Don’t get too excited, it’s not what you think! Yet….
Anyway, Wow!! I can finally say that I am an officially an Italian Citizen!!! Don’t worry, I have dual citizenship so I’m still American! 😉
So where do I begin this love story of Italy and me. The first time I came to Italy was to study in Rome in 2003 with my friend Victoria. I had the most amazing time meeting wonderful people and sharing incredible experiences. I will totally admit that I didn’t even know what the coliseum looked like! I know right, what kind of Italian-American was I? Or student for that matter! I honestly was terrible at the Italian language at UAlbany but I still loved it! Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Four years later, in 2007, I would find myself back in Italy on my Contiki tour. This was another great decision I made. None of my friends could travel (money, time, interest). So I booked an 18-day trip around Europe. We hit major cities in Italy and I loved every minute!
The following year I spent the summer backpacking with two friends, Elisa and Kim, along with a plethora of friends who came for visits along the way. Unknowingly, this summer would change my life forever.
Ok rewind a bit back to 2003 when I was about the study abroad. Long story short, my mom found a letter to my grandfather from a distant cousin from many years ago. She wrote them a letter telling them about us and explained that I would be studying abroad and maybe we could meet. Somehow we never really started communicating until 2006. The letter was sent to my grandfather’s uncle. He passed away so it went to his wife, who lived with one of her sons and it sat for a while. The letter passed hands to the other son’s family (my grandfather’s first cousin) who had a daughter that spoke some English. Her name is Rossella. So, Rossella ended up writing an email to my brother but I never saw it until years after we met! She did however send him a “forward” that he then forwarded to me asking what the hell it said! From there Rossella and I developed an email relationship.
Ok back to 2008. I was backpacking in the north of Italy and since my “new” family (uncle, aunt, and 3 cousins) lived outside of Milan we decided to finally meet. They invited me into their house as one of their own and I have visited them several times over the last five years. I can’t really remember a life before them.
Elisa obtained her Italian citizenship because both of her parents were born in Italy. I found out that I could also get citizenship. Though while it was pretty straightforward for her, it wasn’t so much for me.
I began researching online to make sure first that I qualified, which I did. I followed all the instructions on what I needed to do and what documents I needed to get. It took several years for various reasons (including trying to get the right documents, time to research, finding people to help, etc.) but I finally had an appointment on November 8, 2011 at the Italian Consulate in NYC. I made sure I had all of the right documents, validated by the town, city, county, and state. Everything was organized by person including birth, marriage, naturalization, and death certificates (AND translations and authentication of every document) of everyone from my maternal great-grandparents to me. Oh did I mention my dad doesn’t have a birth certificate because he was born in the middle of a rice paddy on the island of Java? Yeah, so that was interesting to prove.
I was so proud of myself for getting to this point and knew for sure that the consulate would be so impressed with my work, would award me citizenship, and I’d have a passport soon enough!
Boy was I WRONG! About 3 minutes into my 2-hour appointment I was biting my lip and digging my fingernails into my hand into order to not shed one tear. I was told that some of the documents were not “long form” though I had been told from offices that they were. The woman still went through my entire file to note what was fine and what was not. I walked out of the room, out the main door, and began sobbing (I’m even getting emotional now). The first call I made was to the service that makes citizenship appointments for the consulate. My next appointment would be on October 29, 2012, just shy of a year away. The next call was to my mom and I couldn’t even speak.
At first I began trying again to obtain the correct documents but my heart was heavy and I just couldn’t bear to put in the time or the energy.
In April of 2012 my roommate Jackie asked me to travel with her. We had talked about it for years, together and separately, and we both decided to do it. So we quit our jobs, grabbed our backpacks and began our journey.
I started and ended in Italy. I knew for a while that you could apply for citizenship in Italy (as opposed to the consulate) and I decided it was what I would do. In the Spring of 2013 I contacted Peter Farina from ItalyMondo to help me with citizenship. I heard from a few people that they helped them with theirs and I decided that it was time to spend the money. I couldn’t do it myself, and if you know anything about Italy you will understand.
From there they took over and set out to get all the necessary documents needed for applying in Italy. They had everything translated and authenticated for me.
When I finished there I headed to a tiny town called Petacciato that is one of the places in ItalyMondo’s network where I would stay for a short period of time. I found myself at home in this cute town perched up on the hill overlooking the Adriatic ocean. The teacher that I am, I found myself volunteering at the local elementary school with the English teacher. I helped teach classes and even started an after-school painting program! Both the kids and teachers were great – very welcoming. I was even invited to take a Zumba class with the kids! And thank goodness for a friend I met on Couchsurfing, Marco, who took me under his wing and took me salsa dancing, to meet his new kittens and to the only bar in town – just about everyday!
I can’t explain the entire process of what Peter and his team did or how they did it but it was pretty much magica. On my last day I presented my application for the clerk with all of my documents needed in order. Peter said he would let me know as soon as he heard something.
I left Petacciato for Rome to leave back for New York. That’s a crazy story too because I tried to get home for my friend Charissa’s birthday the next day but the fights were all over booked out of Rome for days so I ended up taking a train up to Milano and stayed with my family once again for a few days. I was able to get a flight a few days later. I was happy to see my family again so it was all good!
I was home for about 6 weeks when I woke to an email from Peter – he was welcoming me to “The Club,” I was officially an Italian citizen! I started freaking out. I happen to be at my brother’s house and he already knew. So did my sister-in-law and my parents. I think my cat knew before I did. But I didn’t care because I was so excited!!!
Peter helped me get the rest of the stuff in order so I could actually get my passport. The soonest appointment I could get was after my scheduled departure back to Italy! I pleaded for a sooner appointment and got one on the morning I moved to Italy. I couldn’t decide which passport to use to get in but I figured I’d start my Italian one with my first stamp to Italy. When I went through border control he didn’t stamp it. I asked him to stamp it and he waved me off. It was a little sad but oh well!!
So, I went back to Milan to visit family for a few days before heading to Rome to start my new Au Pair job with a new family. I’ll be working with these two cuties, Gabriele (15months) and Tommaso (2.5 years)!
Hopefully I can continue to write my new adventures in Rome!!
Thank you so much to Peter and his team without whom I would probably be crying in a corner somewhere wishing I was in Italy. I can’t stress enough how he helped make my dream come true. If anyone is even remotely interested in getting dual citizenship, you HAVE to contact him! Let him know I sent you!
Also special thanks to Lori from Montgomery county who helped me out so much over the years trying to get the correct documents and actually recommended Peter and ItalyMondo! to me. And especially to my mom who had to bear through the entire process with me. I know it wasn’t easy!!
Thanks for reading and leave me some love! 🙂