My name is Michael Finocchiaro. For years traveling the U.S. and Canada, I would page the phone books looking for "Finocchiaro's", constantly amazed at the number of us..out there.
Inspired in 1990 when my Aunt handed me my GrandFathers 1914 passport, I began an intensive search which had me spending more time with my dead relatives, than my living ones. I was back to the 1700's and search stopped when my child was born. I hope to continue it someday when time allows.
If you have the time(and you'll need lot's of it)here are some suggetions and highlites of my research:
The best place to start is your phone bookor internet for the closest Church of Latter Day Saints Family History Center. Please note, there is no relgion involved here.They have the best collections of surname history Worldwide and for minor charges will get them for you.My grandfather came from Giarre(a small town outside of Catania) and they had Birth, Death, Marriage documents from there going back to the 1700's. You'll need to be able to read Italian but it's all there. That's where the time and research come into play.
If you don't know where you came from(Italy)the US archives is your best bet. They have Census and Petition for Naturalazation and Immigration records to get you back there.
I did all this before the I-net was up to speed. There may be more effective ways to do it now.
SOME THINGS LEARNED:
The book "Our Italian Surnames" by JosephG. Fucilla list Finocchiaro on page 79 in the chapter of Botanical Names saying the following: A pharse like orto,campo,valle del finocchio, fennel garden ,field,valley is reduced to finocchio. Similarly, a pharase like quello del finocchio,the fennel man,that is, the producer or seller offennel becomes finocchio. There are , to be sure,a fewe vegetable surnames that contain the occuational suffix-aro (aio) like FINOCCHIARO.
I start with this to remind us ALL, that although it would be nice if we were all related....Fennel was grownextensivly in Southern Italy in the 1800's. Catania would have seemed a million miles away from Palermo. That's just Sicly.
In Giarre,little tiny Giarre between 1820 and 1860 there were 262 Finocchiaro Births. Facinating? Most died as children from various outbreaks at the time.
There's lot's more but that's just my tribe.
If you have the time, your history is the greatest detective novel you'll ever read but be forwarned......it is addictive.