I’m Italian! (and still American)
I did it! I’m officially European as I always knew I should be. On Nov. 11, 2010, I became an Italian citizen, thanks to my mother, who helped me gather the documents I needed; Italian friends, who helped me navigate various municipal offices; and, believe it or not — friendly and efficient government workers.
Technically, under Italian law, I’ve always been an Italian citizen because my Sicilian great-grandfather didn’t renounce his citizenship until after my grandfather was born (thus my grandfather and everyone down the line maintained their Italian identity/rights); I just needed to prove this, which I did with birth/marriage/death certificates going back to Sicily.
Italy is famous for it’s bureaucracy, but I received my Italian identity card in Reggio Emilia in two months. The same process would have taken more than a year at the Italian consulate in New York, famous for being mean and arbitrary.
Ironically, the same day I received citizenship, the person who convinced me to move to Reggio Emilia announced on her blog that she was moving back to New York. She was an American living in Reggio and the first person in the city to receive Italian citizenship via jus sanguinis (by the right of blood)—I was the second. I found Audra online and hired her to translate my documents into Italian (a requirement) and she advised that if I moved to Reggio I’d likely have my citizenship in no time, so I packed my bags and moved out of Brooklyn.
Now my translator is returning to New York City because her grandmother is sick, and Audra’s also fed up with Italy. Forget what you’ve seen in the movies—it’s not an easy place to live (I’ll go more into this in a later post). However, I’ve grown tremendously during my most recent experience in this country. I’ve learned so much and know coming here was the right decision, but I, too, plan on returning to America. I love the United States. It’s my home and I never would’ve applied for Italian citizenship if it had meant giving up my U.S. citizenship — this is no longer required (2018 update: I'm not sure I really thought this, or if I felt obligated to say this to the world. Regardless, almost eight years later, I'm still living abroad!!). For now, I’m enjoying the best of both worlds.