A surname just tracks one side of the family, or maybe not even that very accurately. With the advent of easy self-service DNA testing that can be related to geographical regions, I wondered what the typical DNA profile was for a modern descendant of Roman Republicans. I am talking about services like decodeme.com and I refer to the Republic because the Empire probably brought in a wide mix of genes.
They do this seperately for male and female ancestory by looking at only some weird genes that are cloned to the same sex children, and not mixed by the parents. Amazingly they can ID the last unique mutation, guess it's date, and relate it to approximate geographical location. I believe if you are lucky you have a recent mutation (don't worry, just in junk genes that doesn't cause a problem but serves as a flag) that relates to a time and place only about twice as old as Roman era.
In my case there was a false alarm about Sardinian maternal ancestory. But that mitochondrial flag was so extremely old that that it it had spread all around since women emerged from caves. The male y group flag was recent and exactly agreed with the 6+ centuries of marriage records I have, which (sigh) pretty much work against Roman regional heritage on either side.
I may be explaining this poorly, but it is facinating about what can be done in some cases, maybe for Italy or maybe not. BTW females lack their fathers Y-chromosome flags, so may want to get a mouth swab of a brother or father. I believe National Geographic will do the male and female test seperately at half price each. Males needn't do this because they do inherit the female mitochondrials.
P.S. an example of some Italian gene flags is in the middle of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-DNA_haplogr...y_ethnic_groups ...or lost somewhere in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogical_...tDNA.29_testing
Thankyou for the replies. I find all this very interesting, and plan to keep learning more about ancient Rome. What a great site. Thanks again.