Recorded in a variety of spellings including de Zambionani, Zambionani, Zambon, Zamboni, Zambonati, Zambonini, Zampini, and others, this is an ancient Italian surname. It is believed to originate from the medieval word 'zampell' meaning a decoy, an interesting speculation, although according to the Dictionary of Italian Surnames, it could also be from 'zampino' which in Tuscany means a spruce tree. The simple truth is that until 1860 Italy was a loose confederation of states, who spoke an equally loose national language where the same word spelling had different meanings in different parts of the country. This was further confused by the the facxt that although Italian surnames are hereditary, and have been like most European names since at least the 15th century, they were not 'locked' in their spelling. Successive generations would add or subtract dimutive or patronymic endings at will, to the point where some surnames only contain two or even one letter from the original spelling! What else can be added to the confusion? The letters 'p' and 'b' are interchangeable as they are in many European languages, but probably the most important is that the original states of the federation were often at war and were poor. As a result only the noble families recorded their births, deaths and marriages at all. However in this case we do have a few early examples. These include Joseph de Zambionani at San Benedetto, Mantova, on October 6th 1696, and Joanna Zambionis who married Anto de Tellinis at the same place, on June 18th 1720.
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