Recorded in several forms including Santore, Santori, Santorini, Santarelli, Santarone, and others, this is a medieval Italian surname. However spelt, it derives ultimately from the ancient Roman (Latin) word "sanctus", meaning a saint. In ancient times the word was applied as a nickname to people considered by their friends and neighbours to be of "saintly" character (or perhaps the complete reverse). In this case though it is usually accepted that the surname is occupational, and to have formerly described a merchant who held a concession, often at a holy place such as a church or shrine, to sell holy icons and saintly images associated with the particular saint commemorated. It has to be said though, that Italian surnames are the most difficult of all European surnames to research with complete accuracy. The reasons are complex, but one of the main problems is that same name spelling often had a different meaning, dependant on which area or former state, of Italy, it originated from. In addition the Italian people, although early medieval users of hereditary surnames, confused the issue by not adopting the "fixed" spellings as in most of the rest of Europe. In some cases fixed spelling did not apply until the late 19th or even 20th century. In developing their surname the Italians would change at will the spelling between generations usually by adding the famous diminutives such as "-ini" or "-elli" meaning "child of".
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