But hands down, the most important thing they taught me was the love of family. I was constantly visiting them—and if I wasn’t visiting, I was calling them to get all the neighborhood gossip—and constantly learning about my heritage. When I look back now upon my formative years I often chuckle… especially because I can’t believe how I didn’t know the English word for “artichoke” until I was 12 (in my house, it was always a caccòcciula)!
It was that love of family that inspired me to dig deeper into my origins. Color me surprised when, during a deep dive into the history of Italy during my freshman year of high school, I discovered I qualified for Italian dual citizenship. “Wait…” I asked myself, “You mean I’m already an Italian dual citizen and I don’t even know it?”
Suddenly my dream of one day moving to Italy didn’t seem so far-fetched at all!
I immediately set out to gather all the information I could. Back in those days there was practically no information online about it. So I decided I’d become an expert. I’d pore over everything I could find in both Italian and English about the subject. Eventually, I figured it out. In order to receive recognition, I had to show an unbroken chain of Italian citizenship leading from my last Italian-born ancestor, my grandfather, back to me.
I could do that.
I gathered birth, marriage, and naturalization records for my grandparents, my parents, and me. Fluent in Italian, I translated them too (though you can hire a pro to do this for you if you can’t). I got the necessary apostilles. Finally, the culmination of 3 years’ worth of work went into a big folder and I showed up for my consular appointment ready to rock.
Placing a manicured finger over my folder, the lady behind the desk grimaced. “Signorina,” she said. “Your application cannot be processed. There is a name discrepancy.”
Apparently, my grandfather’s last name at birth was di Falco and it changed to de Falco in the U.S. A tiny difference of one letter stood between me and my Italian dual citizenship. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. Defeated, I thanked her for my time, took my folder and sauntered down the steps and out the door. I’d never felt so small before.
After consoling myself in a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream at home, I vowed to get my revenge. Two can play the bureaucracy game, I thought as I shoveled a spoonful of ice cream angrily into my mouth. And so I did.
Weeks later, I went back to the Italian consulate to obtain my student visa. By the time I’d readied my application, I was already college-bound and knew I was going to study in Italy no matter what. My student visa application was initially secondary to my citizenship application, but now I was going to use my student visa to get Italian citizenship. Hey—you’ve gotta be resourceful when you can! The woman behind the glass window complimented my Italian, handed me my American passport with the Italian visa, and wished me luck.
Months later when I arrived in Italy I marched right to the ufficio anagrafe, dual citizenship documents in hand. Mr. Bevilacqua ushered me into his office with a smile. He probably spent two minutes looking at everything but to me it felt like an eternity. The tick-tock-tick-tock of the clock on the wall mirrored my heart beating in my chest.
“Okay, everything’s here! I’ll take your application.”
“But what about the name discrepancy?”
“What discrepancy?” he winked. “You wouldn’t believe the doozies we see in this office. A one letter difference is nothing.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather. This was it—I was in! I signed my application form, shook his hand, and practically skipped out of the office and onto the streets. Exactly 2 months and 21 days later, I opened my mailbox to find the confirmation I’d so desperately wanted for 3 and a half years:
You’ve hereby been recognized as an Italian citizen jure sanguinis.
And with that, the first thing I did when I got home was make myself a stuffed artichoke in memory of my grandfather.
About the Author
As owner of Get Italian Citizenship, Inc. Audra has helped more than 200 clients and their families obtain their Italian passports. Her deep love of Italy and some serious trial and error has made her one of the industry’s foremost Italian dual citizenship experts. If you would like to obtain Italian dual citizenship, please visit www.getitaliancitizenship.com today.
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Past #DolceVitaBlogger Link-Ups:
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #17 June 2019
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #16 May 2019
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #14 March 2019
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup – #13 February 2019
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup – #12 January 2019
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup – #11 October 2018 – Hilarious Travel Mishaps
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup – #10 September 2018 – Favourite Italian Recipe
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #9 August 2018 - Culture Shock
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #8 July 2018 - La Dolce Vita
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #7 June 2018 - Hidden Gems in Italy
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #6 May 2018 - Five Italian Words
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #5 April 2018 - The Perfect Day in Italy
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #4 March 2018 - International Women's Day
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #3 February 2018 - A Love Letter to Italy
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #2 January 2018 - Favourite Italian City
#DolceVitaBloggers Linkup - #1 December 2017 - 'The Italian Connection