Here it is--- I received my dual Italian citizenship official documents.!! Now it's time for that happy dance!!
Finally, after many many long months and a very arduous journey, I have my brand new Italian Carta d'Identita in my hot little hands! It's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.. the Holy Grail!!! To all of you who have been reading my blog and sending emails , many thanks for all the support. And to Mary, my dear dear friend in San Francisco, you have been a beacon of light along the way. We've been able to laugh together through the darkest moments. I cannot wait until your journey is also completed- we'll be lighting up the skies with fireworks for both of us!
It took about 5 months to receive the fax back from the Italian consulate in the U.S. indicating that they had no record of my ever having renounced Italian citizenship. I have no idea why it took so long for this little one line of faxed information, but , it was a major hold up. Being past that hurdle, I thought it would only be a matter of a week or two to complete the rest of the process. Ha, ha! The fax from the U.S. was received in the Comune on September 1. It's taken 2 more months to register my documents in Italy. Luigi, my immigration lawyer here in Italy would email me every few days saying "Any day now!".
And- finally, "Any day" arrived. I received a letter from the Comune indicating they had completed everything and it was time for me to come in person to sign papers and pick up my Carta d'Identita. Luigi confirmed everything was in order, and we made plans for me to take the train to Castel San Pietro Terme on Thurday, October 29. The big day!
I should have known from the way the day started out that it was going to be one of those days. At 3am that morning, we were woken up by incredible rain storms. We ran around to batten down the hatches and put down old towels, as rain was spilling in under the two back doors of the apartment. All I could think of was how miserable the walk to the train station was going to be at 6am in this kind of rainstorm. Fortunately for me, by 5:30 am the rain stopped.
The train from Venice to Bologna went off with out a hitch, but the connection to Castel San Pietro was delayed 20 minutes. That wasn't too bad. I was able to call Luigi's assistant Daniella, who was waiting for me there and let her know. When the train arrived in Castel San Pietro though, I discovered there was no way to get into town. There was no bus running at least for another hour, and no taxi cabs in sight. Fortunately, Daniella offered to come pick me up. She found me easily--- it's a very small waiting room at the train station and I must have looked like the only American! Danielle has been tasked with helping me obtain all the documents I need today, and submit my passport application.
Things are looking up- but only momentarily. First stop is the Anagrafe office, where we discover the city is without electricity, they will not be able to print out any documents. We must wait. Daniella and I go to the Tabacchi shop to buy the marco bollo I will need later for my passport application, however they too are with out power and cannot sell anything. They tell us to try the Post Office. We go to the post office-- same thing. No power, they cannot work. Just as we are leaving the Post Office, the power returns, so we can do part of the necessary paper work we need to do there. This step of the Passport process costs 47 Euros. We return to the Tabacchi, they have power also, we hand over 46 Euros and change for the marcobollo. Ok.. so we're making progress.
Back at the Anagrafe office, power has also been restored. The girl there is beginning to print out the papers that I need to sign for the Carta d'Identita and Certificate of Citizenship. It is then that I discover all my documents have been done in my maiden name! Ey Caramba!!!!! I was completely taken by surprise, I expected my married name would be used. The women in the Anagrafe office tell me this is the Italian law, and if I want to be Italian, it has to be this way. By the looks on their faces, I could tell that they meant business. Daniella makes a quick call to Luigi, who apologizes for not telling me this would be the case, and says I have to have it this way. I wanted to put my foot down and insist on my married name, but it was quickly becoming obvious that would never happen. I needed this done now, I decided to go with whatever the Italians wanted to do.
I signed a few copies of the Certificate of Citizenship, and in a minutes time my brand new Carta d'Identita was in my hand. I wanted to jump up and down and shout with joy right there in that office. The girl in charge there gave me another document which includes my Certificate of Residency and we are off to the next office- Status Civilie, to collect an official copy of my new Italian birth and marriage certificates. Just as we open the door to leave the Anagrafe office, the power goes out again!!!! This just cannot be happening today of all days!
The Status Civile office is just around the corner, and fortunately the power was only down a second. Getting the birth certificate was easy, but the marriage certificate threw a monkey wrench into everything. The girl in this office could find my marriage certificate data in her computer system, but was getting an error message every time she attempted to print it. She called out the Direttore, the woman I had met 8 months earlier, on my first trip to the Comune. She looked in this huge book, found something, and had a look over the shoulder of the girl at the screen on her computer workstation. Ah... that must be it.. we want the certificate of the second marriage., and voila, the certificate is printed out! Mission accomplished. As we are gathering up our belongings, this girl looks at me and asks " Why do you want to be Italian??? We all want to be American!". Oh, the answer is easy-- I'm living my dream !!!
By now, the Questura is closed, so Daniella and I take a cab into Bologna to the Questura there to submit my passport application. The traffic jam in Bologna is unbelievable, but aside from that, the passport submission went very smoothly. I should have my passport in about 10 days. I was able to catch a train back to Venice and be home by dinner time.
Finally, finally, finally, I have been recognized as an Italian citizen. Every bit of this has been absolutely worth it. Yes, we are doing the happy dance!