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I'm still hopeful...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I try to be hopeful before going to any administrative office anywhere in the world (US, France, and Italy). There is something scary about having to deal with people who will decide your fate and you not having any recourse available to you. I went to the Prefettura (Prefecture) this afternoon to get information about obtaining Italian citizenship.

The laws were passed over 10 years ago now that allow people with Italian ascendants to obtain Italian citizenship. In my case, my father's father was born in Italy and didn't become an American citizen until well after my father was born. So, according to the law, I'm Italian. Of course, to get recognized by the Italian government is a formality one must endure.

I spent almost five years accumulating papers on my grandfather and father. My dad's birth certificate from New York, my grandfather's birth certificate from Italy, my grandfather's naturalization papers, and much more. The simplest documents for me to obtain were my grandfather's and grandmother's birth certificates from Italy. The most difficult (as far as sending over 10 letters to different offices) documents to receive were my grandparent's marriage certificate from New York and my grandfather's US citizenship papers. The INS sent me the wrong papers twice and the time I waited was about two years the first time and only a few months to get the right documents.

I filed all of my papers at the Italian consulate in the States, but they haven't moved at all and supposedly the wait is now 2 1/2 years. I called the woman who is in charge of the citizenship papers, after she got back to the office after a 9-month break, and she told me that if I'm in Italy I should do it there instead.

I called the cittadinanza (citizenship) office at the Prefettura to get information and the woman told me to get married to an Italian and it'd take only 6 months. I told her that I was already married and not to an Italian and she responded, "Peccato" (That's too bad). She told me that it'd take at least two years to get it through my ascendants.

I've been planning to go to the office for a long time to get some information about filing here in Italy, but I just kept putting it off. But, today was the day. I decided to finally go. I asked Ellen if she wanted to come with me. I also figured that if someone else comes, then I won't not go.

We met at the Duomo and walked at least 10 blocks to the office. We walked inside and I asked the man at the desk where the office was. He didn't look at me, but responded "Piano terra, sala sei" (Ground floor, room 6). There weren't any rooms, so we went outside to another building. Nope, they told us it's on the first floor, room 6. So, we go back to the main building and walk up the stairs. I was expecting to see a long line of people (as I do when I go to the Questura), but there was only one girl sitting down.

We sat down and waited our turn. When I went in to ask information, the woman asked me for my birthday because I might be in the system already. I told her that that's probably impossible since the consulate hasn't touched my file yet. She asked me if I was married to an Italian. I responded that I didn't. "Ah, dal sangue allora...devi andare al comune per chiedere" (Oh, by blood then...you have to go to the city office to ask).

I asked if they have any information they can give me, but they didn't. We decided to catch the bus back to town and then walk to Palazzo Vecchio where the office is located. We walked into the office and the woman said it was closed and that I had to come back tomorrow between 8:30 and 1PM, but not to come at 1PM.

We left the building and I felt a bit defeated. Palazzo Vecchio is only about 5 minutes from my house while the other place is at least 1/2 hour. I was surprised that no one told me sooner to go to the Comune at Palazzo Vecchio. Even the man who filled out our residency papers (and whose office is only one floor below the citizenship office) told me to go to the Prefettura.

So, tomorrow I'll be going back. Who knows what they'll tell me...or if I'll even be in the right office.

If you have any comments, please share them on the Living in Florence's FaceBook page. Grazie!

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