Around seven years ago, I discovered that I may be eligible for dual US-Italian citizenship. After many years of puzzling over how I could possibly find a way to live and work in the EU, I was thrilled at the prospect. I entertained the possibility for a few years, doing some light research into the labyrinth of rules & regulations… and then about a year ago, I got serious and from that point there was no turning back.
Interestingly, it turns out that I am actually an Italian citizen right now. Who knew?!?! Italy grants citizenship through bloodline, and unless one generation naturalizes before the next is born, citizenship passes on as long as the chain is unbroken. However, the process to prove one’s citizenship-by-blood (juris sanguinis) is fraught with bureaucracy and complications. There is an incredible amount of paperwork involved: historical documents and vital records, official stamps, translations, and more. Then, you have to get an appointment at one of the Consulate offices in the US. That process in itself is surprisingly difficult: right now, the first appointments available in a majority of the US offices are scheduled out to 2023. Five years just to get an appointment! And then if you submit perfect paperwork and pay some more money, you get to wait 2 years with absolutely no word of update until eccolo! You’re in. (Or not.)
I’ve spent countless hours poring through records, collection documents, and trying to piece together a case. I’ve hit some major walls (turns out my great-great grandfather snuck over to the US for 5 years to naturalize before going back to bring the rest of the family over), and am working my way around them. Turns out that I’m going to have to work with an attorney to plead a case of discrimination because, until the 1990s, women were not considered to be valid carriers of the bloodline.
I’ve been working with my Uncle Bobby, and as a 2-person team we have done a lot of work. He was actually just in Italy to collect some documents, and I’ve been able to stop by a couple offices to do some research on my own. Yesterday, as I was driving through Calabria, I was able to stop in the comune biblioteca (historical records library) of my great grandfather Angela Romano’s village, to search for his elusive birth certificate. And I found it! And then I had to head comune ufficio (city hall) to have the documents reviewed and get an official form & stamp. It took some arguing, and some coercion, and some time, and some laughter… but I got it!
This winter, I’ll engage an Italian attorney. Apparently, almost everyone who pleads the same anti-discrimination case wins, if they have all their documents in order. I’ll continue to collect everything I need, and will apply next year. It turns out that it is much faster to apply after establishing residency in Italy— and that sounds like a good plan to me! 2019 goals….
Here are some scenes from my visits in Marzano-Appio (Campania) and Acri (Calabria):