Recorded as Abisso, Abisogno, Abisetti, Masso, and Abbisinia, this is an Italian surname. It is one of a major group of topographical surnames which according to the Dictionary of Italian Surnames relate to the fact that Italy is a land largely of rugged landscapes. It is uncertain how many such surnames exist, but it certainly runs into dozens, and possibly hundreds, with each of the former twelve state which from 1860 made up the unified country of Italia, often having their own versions. These include Montagna, Colli, Poggi, and Timpone, all meaning a mountain, with Cucchi, Borgna, Spalla, Bricchi meaning a hill or hillock, Costa, Groppi, Cilio meaning a hillside and Abisso, Masso, Sasso, Techi and others that describe a precipice, steep incline or abyss. Topographical surnames were amongst the earliest to be created in medieval times around the 12th century, as one of the easiest ways to identify a person was to call him or sometimes her, by the word for a natural feature near where they lived. The original states of Italy were generally very poor and certainly not given to public record keeping. So whilst national records started in England as early as 1086 with the famous Domesday Book, it was not until the late 19th century that the same applied in Italy.
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