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Re: Name origins

From: Bryan Langley <>
Date: 10/3/00
Time: 12:58:23 PM
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There are two main theories regarding the origins of the name Ottolenghi, and presumably its derivatives like Ottolangui, Ottolengue, Ottolenghe, Ottolingo, etc.,

The first, and most popular, theory is one quoted, I believe, by Cecil Roth in his epic 1946 work "The History of the Jews of Italy" in which he states that the original Ottolenghi's were a Jewish community living in the area now known as Provence in southern France in the 14th century. In the 1390's there were pogroms in this area which was apparently, constantly changing hands between Frankish and Germanic feudal barons, and in 1394 after a particularly violent pogrom, the community left, crossing the Alps by foot and settling in northern Italy in the Piemonte (Piedmont - literally "foot hills")region between Milano and Torino. The name Ottolenghi - Roth suggests - is an "Italianisation" of the name of one of those Germanic barons who was called "Ettlingen".

A sort of sub-theory of this one is that the Ottolenghis took their name from an Austrian town called Ettlingen, after Rabbi Joshua ben Nathan Ottolenghi came from there to settle in Cremona in the 16th century where he established a seat of talmudic learning (see my notes on Some Famous Italian Ottolenghis in the Ottolenghi Archive pages).

The second, a more recent theory, is put forward by the Italian Jewish scholar, Vittore Colorni, who has published a number of papers and dissertations on the subject of ancient Jewish families and communities in Italy. He contends that the most ancient Jewish families in Italy took their names from Roman sources and in respect of the Ottolenghis, points to an ancient Roman city in the Alessandria region, near Acqui and Asti, called Ottalengum - Aqui and Asti, of course, are full of Ottolenghi history and on the site of the ancient city of Ottalengum there today, are two villages which preserve the name. Both are called Odalengo they are Odalengo Piccolo, and Odalengo Grande. Piccolo, as its name suggests is a tiny township with a current population of between 250-300 (according to internet sources), and its claim to fame is an annual truffle festival held each October (could this be from where Arturo Ottolenghi gets his truffles and mushrooms?). Odalengo Grande, on the other hand, true to its name is a much bigger place, its population is about 600, but as far as I know it doesnt have anything special like its smaller relative.

Amongst other things Ive heard: someone once told me that hed met some Ottolenghi from the Venice area, who claimed that their ancestors must have been translators and interpreters basing their theory on the assumption that that Otto = 8 and lenghi obviously means languages or tongues. However this seems to me to be just a little too contrived and is probably just one of those family folk-tales.

My Italian acquaintances tell me that the suffix lenghi is quite a common feature of family names in northern Italy, there being some connection with a geographical region or a river in that part of the country.

I think it was Professor Abramo Ottolenghi who told me that he had heard that the name originated from a region in Portugal and also had riverine connections.

Id be very glad to hear of other theories, or anything in support of any of the above.

If anyone is interested I have a copy of one of Colornis papers, which I was kindly given by Professor Michael Ottolenghi of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Unfortunately the copy I have has been faxed too many times prior to my receipt, and its optical quality is too poor to scan and post on the site.

Re: ottolenghi di fiorenzuola d'arda

Date: 10 Apr 2005
Time: 03:17:59
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Date: 15 Sep 2005
Time: 02:25:24
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Date: 15 Jan 2006
Time: 01:59:39
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Date: 23 Apr 2006
Time: 15:50:44
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