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Map of the Veneto While records exist of Canevas in the Genoa area dating to the 17th century, the Caneva family origins are actually believed to lie in northeastern Italy, in the province of Vicenza in the Veneto region. Currently over a third of our Italian family members live in this area. According to the website La Caneva, "Caneva" is an archaic Venetian word indicating a basement storage room used to store wines, cheeses, salami and anything else that needed to be preserved. While visiting in Vicenza in 1986, this writer was also told by shopkeepers that the name meant "something like wine cellar" (for more information on the Caneva name, click here). In any event, as the lineage we're able to verify today traces to the Vicenza region, we'll focus on that area and the Canevas who have descended from this line.

The Veneto is one of Italy's 20 regions, and consists of seven provinces, as shown on the map at right. It encompasses a vast variety of terrain - from the lagoons of Venice and the waterways of the Po River Delta to the pre-Alps, high mountain plateaus, and the spectacular Dolomites - covering 7095 square miles (18,376 sq km), or about the size of the U.S. state of New Jersey. Its population is approximately 4.5 million, and the products produced here include textiles, chemicals, paper, processed foods, wine, machinery (DeLongonghi), eyeglasses (Luxottica), gold jewelry, shoes, furniture, and apparel (Diesel, Benetton). Even the word "ciao" is a product of the Veneto, originally meaning "your slave" (in the sense of "at your service") in Venetian dialect. The Veneto officially became part of Italy in 1866, after having been ruled by the Romans, the Lombards, the Venetian Republic, Austria, and the Napoleanic kingdom of Italy.

Map of the Province of Vicenza The Province of Vicenza has a surface area of 272,220 square km with a total population of about 770,000, and is administratively divided into 121 Municipalities. The earliest ancestor of whom we currently have record is Giovanni Battista Caneva. Although we do not yet have Gio Batta's birthplace or birthdate, we do know that his son, Antonio Caneva, was born in the town of Recoaro (Recoaro Terme) in 1826. Based on U.S. immigration records from the late 19th and early 20th century, Antonio undoubtedly had siblings or cousins whose descendants emigrated to the United States, but information defining their relationship to our Caneva line is unavailable at this time. This belief is based partly on Italian naming conventions, whereby given names are passed down to subsequent generations, with first-born sons named after their grandfather. Records show Canevas with given names of "Giovanni Batista," "Oreste," "Antonio," "Pietro," etc arriving in the U.S. from various towns in the province of Vicenza, including Recoaro - names that occur in the line of which we have good data.

Sometime in the mid 19th century Antonio Caneva left Recoaro and moved northeast to the town of Asiago, where his son Giovanni Battista was born in 1854. Gio Batta lived in Asiago through the birth of his first child, Antonio, in 1881, but by the birth of his second, Pietro, in 1882, had moved to the town of Fara Vicentino. He returned to Asiago by 1889, and remained there until his death in 1943. It is from Asiago that most of the Canevas in the United States and Australia emigrated in the early years of the 20th century (click here for US emigration information). However, family members are still present today in Asiago, Recoaro, and many other towns in the area.

The current distribution of the Caneva surname in Italy, based on active phone records, is shown on the map below. By going to the Libero website search page, you can enter the Caneva name and get an interactive map identical to the one below. By clicking on the various regions, you can "drill down" to the individual phone numbers and addresses of the Canevas listed.
Map of locations of Caneva phone numbers in Italy

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