The amount of people we get passing through the factory on a daily basis in the summer tends to be pretty high. Naturally our visitors come from all corners of the world, though the majority of our clientèle are North Americans or Japanese. I truly believe my everyday interaction with people from my culture really helps me cope with living in Italy. I am good at adapting, but even a full fledged expat needs to be comforted every now and then. Myself more than others I believe, considering I very much love my American cultural background from growing up in the Midwest. So first and foremost I would like to thank our North American visitors who have taken the time to share a joke, a laugh, and converse about the finer attributes of burritos with me. Yes I am burrito deprived, and yes it shows. Secondly the question I get the most from our visitors is how in the world am I working and living in Italy? Now I would love to be able to tell my story to everyone, complete with comedic pauses, detailed accounts, and crucial decision making insights, however I am working and need to be somewhat useful. So for all of you who got my standardized response, I am sorry, and I’m writing out my story on dual citizenship now to make up for my lack of chattiness.
*BEWARE this is a detailed account of my Jure Sanguinis experience from start to finish over two years of research and pain staking bureaucracy. The rendition is a two part series. If you do not like details and drawn out explanations then I suggest you click the back button right about….now*
Part One: Just Because You’ve Eaten Spaghetti and Meatballs at Every Family Reunion Doesn’t Make You Italian
My inspiration for researching whether or not I could apply for Jure Sanguinis (blood right) via my Italian grandfather was sparked by an ambition to live abroad as well as a boy, of course. I had unwittingly gone to Italy on a 3 month tourist visa thinking it was going to be pie in the sky transferring it to a working visa. Alas, my moment of absolute naivety. My only other recourse was to research Jure Sanguinis in hopes that I would pass all the rules and regulations. I spent countless hours on the computer looking up my grandfather’s and great aunt’s life histories via SSNs, which got me all of about nowhere. Next step, go to my ancestral Comune (fortunately I knew this info) and find great grandfather in the moldy stacks. GGF immigrated to America 100 years ago from an extremely small town in the province of Isernia, Molise. This town is 3 hours south of where I was staying. Road trip time with little to no information and a whole lot of hope! Did I get that warm excited feeling upon my arrival? Not so much. I did not understand a word of their dialect, and neither did said boy who is Italian. Right onto the comune office. Now my family has an ongoing myth that we have 7 generations of *insert male heritage namesake*. I assumed this to be correct, and told the comune records officer the names to be on the look out for. Mind you this assumption was false. So not only did I not know the name of my great great grandfather, but I also had no idea when GGF was born, nor who he married and when. All very important details when looking for a birth certificate. After many exasperated sighs, one frantic 6am wake-up call to my Aunt, and 5 hours later, we finally came across GGF’s immigration record. What stroke of genius on the part of the comune worker! The record listed my GGM, GGGF, and the date the record was filed, 1913. Another hop, skip, and jump (4th) back to the old musty building that houses all the old musty tomes of ancient birth and marriage records. The comune officer finally found GGF’s birth and marriage certificate. He also suddenly became surprisingly friendly as well. Come to find out his great aunt was my great grandmother, small world huh? We left middle-of-nowhere Italy in a state of euphoric contentment. I had supporting documents that stated I had Italian blood. Nifty right?
Road Block #1: Now in order for me to be eligible my grandfather needed to be born BEFORE my GGF naturalized as an American Citizen. At the time I hadn’t the foggiest idea when my GGF became American, nor was I confident that he immigrated in 1913. No public access ship records had any mention of him for that date. Now I was under the impression that the few documents I had would allow me to reside in Italy past the 3 month limit. Naivety strikes again! My visit to the Florence citizenship office made it abundantly clear to me that I was no where near ready to apply. Number of documents need to apply: 10, my number at the time: 2..(insert mild expletive).
I returned back to America after my three month stay with a clear focus on what I needed to do. I had started my game plan back in Italy by requesting information regarding my GGF’s immigration records from NARA Chicago. Their response was waiting for me upon my arrival home. GGF became an American citizen in 1925. My grandfather was born in 1914. The green light flickered on in my head, giving me ample motivation for hunting down my remaining 8 documents. Fortunately my father’s family never ventured outside of their city of residence.
Therefore all records I would need were conveniently located in one city building, with one exception. My darling parents thought it would be a good idea to get married in another state. This was easily remedied however by mail correspondence. This was quickly followed up by one day trip with the maternal gran to request, receive, certify, and apostille 7 documents. I was walking on air that day until…
Road Block #2: My GGM’s name was Amelia, however on my grandfather’s birth certificate she was listed as Marietta. Being fairly familiar with the Italian language at that point I was aware of how the discrepancy probably came about. Etta and ina are endings attached to a girl’s name to emphasize her size or cuteness. This is also can be meant as a term of affection. I’m guessing my non-English speaking GGF said Melietta during his moment of joy at having a son, and the hospital staff interpreted it as such. My Grandfather’s birth certificate was one of the most important documents in this whole process, so I was fairly agitated at this unexpected development. I asked the state vital records office if an affidavit could be produced to rectify the error. Answer: NO. I would have had to hire a legal representative for my deceased grandfather, one for myself, and then take the issue to court in order to get the name corrected. This would have required time and money I did not have. I called the Florence comune asking if the discrepancy would effect my application. No, because I inherited citizenship via GGF, grandfather, then father, none of the women listed on the forms would be strictly relevant. Score, moving on!
My parent’s marriage certificate issue was painless. I requested it from the county in which they were married, then mailed it off to the state house for the apostille. Fortunately I had reached majority at this point, because all minor children of divorced parents also have to provide the full packet of divorce papers as well. Finally I was 10 for 10 on the document front, certified, apostilled, and ready for scrutiny. Let the translation of outdated English legal jargon to Italian legal jargon commence! Luckily I was able to translate the documents myself with the help of aforementioned boy, saving me a small fortune in translation fees. Once again, thanks be to the gods that I didn’t have to translate divorce papers!
This concludes Part 1 of my Jure Sanguinis adventure. I chose to apply for citizenship in Italy, which has a whole different set of rules then the Italian consulates in America. Italian bureaucracy is also infamous for disorganization and the ping-pong effect. Not sure what I am referring to? Then stay tuned for Part 2: Return to Italy due out next week!