"The more notary, the less judge"
With these words the famous jurist Carnelutti defined the essence of the notary's role (and therefore his most important activity before the law).
The meaning is that the better the notary does his job - of verifying and interpreting the wishes of parties (i.e. persons) in the drafting of a contract and the drawing up of the relevant clauses in a legal manner - the less likelihood of having recourse to the judge (and in other words the less risk of the notarial document being cause for lawsuits). This is why a notary may not receive deeds expressly forbidden by the law (article 28 of notarial law) and has an obligation to be certain of the identity of the parties (article 49 of notarial law) and to ascertain in person their wishes (article 47 of notarial law).
The figure of the Latin Notary, which includes the Italian one, differs considerably from the apparent counterpart of Anglo-Saxon law. The first is an active part of a juridical system that bases its legitimacy on written law and in which the written proof is the Queen of the procedural system.
For this reason, the law establishes that some legal acts (donations, real estate sales, marriage agreements, mortgage loans and so on) must be stipulated by adopting particular forms (depending on the case, public deed or authenticated private deed), which guarantee, thanks to the intervention of the Notary, the maximum degree of protection of all the subjects involved.
A notary is a public official authorized to draw up deeds both between living persons (i.e. sales, exchanges, divisions of property, loans etc) and last will and testaments, witness them publicly, keep and issue copies, certificates (i.e. summaries) and extracts (i.e. partial copies) (article 1 of the notarial law).
A deed drawn up by a notary is a public document, because the notary is authorized to bear witness to it (hence he is a public official) and as such carries particular legal force: statements made in a notarial deed (e.g. that the document has been read to the parties, or that a person has made or signed a declaration in his presence) provides full evidence (in other words must be considered as true, even by a judge), unless falsification has been proved.