Italian Tax and Census Records: Catasti

The oldest Catasti date back to the 1300s and at the time they were the first census of the population to be recorded in the Papal States (what is now Lazio, Umbria and Marche). The most valuable are known as Catasti Onciari and were recorded in the South of Italy around the mid-1700s; the great amount of information available in these documents tell us the size of a family, the professions of all family members, their assets (i.e. property, livestock, farming tools, etc.) and finally where they lived.

Today the “Catasto” is the Italian system of land registration. Here you can follow how property ownership has changed throughout the years and Italian property taxes are calculated based on the information available in this register.

It is in the office of the Catasto of Vigolzone a small town located in the province of Piacenza in the region of Emilia Romagna, that we found this beautiful drawing showing the medieval castle and the church of San Pietro. In 1832 the town of Vigolzone amounted to a total of 26 homes and 150 residents. The center of town was the church and the castle; four conglomerates of homes, stables and mills were built around them.