Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Francesca

Francesca is the Italian feminine form of Francis. The masculine given name Francis comes from the Late Latinate Franciscus, a vocabulary word denoting ‘French’ or ‘Frenchman.’ This was a nickname given to St. Francis of Assisi (whose baptismal name was actually Giovanni) because of his wealthy father’s business connections in France and his general admiration of the French people. St. Francis had a pleasant, happy childhood, but as a young man, a couple of bad experiences caused him to turn away from the material world and devote himself to the poor and sick. After he was joined by a few disciples, these so-called Franciscans dedicated themselves to humility, poverty and the love for all living creatures. St. Francis (or San Francisco to the Spanish) is often depicted surrounded by animals, particularly birds. It’s no surprise that St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment, but he is also the patron saint of Italy. Thanks to the cult that grew up around St. Francis, the name spread in the 14th century and became even more popular during the Italian Renaissance of the 16th century. This old classic name has given way to several forms in various languages including Francis and Frank (English), François (French), Franz (German), Francisco (Spanish), and Francesco or Franco (Italian). The feminine versions of this name are Frances, Francesca or Françoise and the many pet forms include Franny, Frank, Fran, Fanny, Frankie, Frannie, and Sissy. Francesca is currently a Top 10 most popular female name in Italy.

All About the Baby Name – Francesca



The number Seven personality is deeply mystical and highly in tune with their spirituality. They operate on a different wavelength than the average joe. Spending time alone comes easily to Sevens, as it gives them time to contemplate philosophical, religious and spiritual ideas in an effort to find "real truth".  Sevens are wise, but often exude mystery as if they are tapped into something the rest of us don't understand. They love the outdoors and are fed by nature. Sevens are constantly seeking to understand human nature, our place in the universe, and the mystery of life in general. This makes them quite artistic and poetic, but they are also keen observers with high intellect - so they are equally scientific-minded. Sevens are charitable and care deeply about the human condition.



The lovely Francesca did not appear on the U.S. popularity graphs until 1953 and for the first 20 years she just sort of languished at low levels of usage. The name’s popularity climbed modestly during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Her peak popularity came in 1996 at position #353 on the charts. This was likely influenced by one of the bestselling books of the 20th century (50 million copies!) “The Bridges of Madison County” published in 1992 wherein the main character is named Francesca (a movie was made in 1995 starring Meryl Streep as the lovely but lonely Italian Francesca). Since the turn of the 21st century, however, Francesca has been on the decline. This is a head-scratcher. Other Italian beauties have shown improvements on the charts as American parents are gravitating to these flowery, romantic and Latinate elaborations of names. Adrianna, Gianna, Giuliana and Luciana are some Italian female names that come to mind. But Francesca is particularly gorgeous and a wonderful alternative to Frances for Italian-American parents or those who appreciate more ethnic sounding names. It’s also a name to consider for the Francophile parents out there since its root origin means “French”. The Franks (French people) derived their name from Old Germanic meaning “free” – so the name Francesca also denotes a certain free-spiritedness. Francesca is one of our most favorite Italian names – it’s elegant, classy and has a lovely connection to Italian history and Italy’s patron Saint Francis (lover of animals and nature). And although we hate to see such a lovely name truncated or shortened, it’s hard not to like the nicknames Chesca or Frankie for a little girl.

Quick Facts













Frenchwoman, free










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Francesca

Literary Characters


Francesca Johnson is the heroine of Robert James Waller’s hugely popular 1993 romantic novel, The Bridges of Madison County, which was made into an equally successful movie of the same name in 1995, starring Meryl Streep. Francesca is a transplanted Italian war bride living a prosaic life as wife and mother on an Iowa farm in 1965, when National Geographic assignment photographer Robert Kincaid enters her life. He is doing a piece on the covered bridges in the county and can use a guide, her husband and children are at the state fair for four days – what do you guess happens? The dutiful Francesca finds herself strongly drawn to the traveler, and Robert is tempted to put down roots for the first time. They suffer through the angst of their conflicting emotions, and Francesca is forced to make a decision that is both heartbreaking and life affirming. While many scorned the novel as mawkish and contrived, its popularity put such criticism on the back burner. When it was translated to film, the luminous Streep made one care deeply about the uplifting power of this unexpected love and its potential power to ruin many lives while saving one.

In Dante Alighieri’s epic early 14th century masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, Francesca da Rimini is consigned to the second circle of hell along with her lover, Paolo Malatesta, for their adultery. Francesca is modeled upon a real-life person, the beautiful daughter of an Italian nobleman, who was said to have been tricked by her father into marrying Gianciotto Malatesta for political reasons, when it was his brother, Paolo, whom she loved. She became Paolo’s mistress and her husband, discovering the deceit, killed them both. In his journey through the Inferno, Dante asks his guide if he may speak to the doomed lovers. Francesca tells him her tale, how they were inspired by reading of the love between Lancelot and Guinievere, and in all innocence, began their affair. As Dante himself remarks: “Such tender thoughts and dear longing led them into this agony! ... While the one spirit spoke all this the other wept, and I fainted with pity as if I were dying.” It is early in Dante’s journey through the Inferno, so we may excuse him for his faint heartedness; after all, he is writing his poem about Divine Love and yet he finds himself overwhelmed with sympathy for an all too exemplary display of human love. How exalted a plane it lies upon, then, in spite of the striver’s endeavors to reach a loftier attainment! In all probability, later generations of so-inclined couples were in turn inspired by reading of the love of Francesca and her Paolo. Certainly countless painters, sculptors, writers and musicians were.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Francesca

Popular Songs


We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Francesca

Famous People


Francesca Annis (British actress)
Francesca Battistelli (American musician)
Francesca Beard (poet)
Francesca da Rimini (medieval figure)
Francesca Gagnon (performer for Cirque du Soleil)
Francesca Le (American porn star)
Francesca Lubiani (Italian tennis player)
Francesca Martinez (British comedienne)
Francesca Martinez (Italian model)
Francesca Simon (children’s book author)
Francesca Woodman (American photographer)
Piero della Francesca (Italian painter)
Francheska Yarbusova (Russian artist)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Francesca

Historic Figures


We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Francesca