Italian documents from the period 1500 to 1800 can be divided into categories based on the handwriting style used:
In reading an old document written in any language the first attitude to develop is one of confidence. This site will emphasize that, with practice, anyone can learn to read any documents written in Italian. Likewise reading parish records from the 1500s or 1600s can be learned and, with patience and practice, longer narrative documents such as wills, can be mastered.
Looking at the sample of Itálica writing in Figure 1 should reassure the reader that reading Italian documents in the Itálica handwriting style, especially those that are of a short format which regularly repeats, such as parish sacramental records, can be mastered by anyone with practice. For those with a little fluency in Italian, the ability to extract data from longer documents in Itálica with a short repetitive format, can be mastered with patience and study.
This study only deals with documents written in Italian. Although many different dialects and languages are spoken in Italy, such as Sicilian and Sardinian, most records are written in Italian with influences of the regional dialects. Furthermore, documents may appear in Latin in different areas of Italy until at least 1950. Learning to read documents in those languages is beyond the scope of this site. For more information regarding the challenge that language diversity may present, please read the Challenges section of this site.