by Melinda Gallo

Good news, bad news, and possibly even better news

I woke up early this morning thinking about my trip to the Comune di Firenze to ask about obtaining Italian citizenship. All of the possible outcomes ran through my head over and over. I put all the copies I have of my documents together in a folder and left.

It was 11:30AM when I arrived and no one else was there. I was told that the woman was out and that I should wait for her. I took a seat on the comfortable red couch opposite the door. Luckily, I brought a book so I wouldn't have to sit there for the half hour doing nothing. A woman arrived with a shopping bag and told me to follow her into her office. And here I thought she was in a meeting.

The first thing the woman asked me was if I was a resident in Italy. "Sì," I told her and handed the document I received when I went to sign up last June. Then, she asked me if I had a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) and i said "Sì," and pulled that out as well.

I explained that I wanted to just know if I could file in Italy because I had already filed in the US last June, but I was told the wait would be 2 1/2 years.

The woman was nice at times and aggressive with me at other times. When she talked to me about how her daughter calls her all the time (and she admitted that she called her just a many times too), she was quite jovial. Then, the second I told her that my father's name was misspelled on his birth certificate, I thought fire would come out of her mouth.

She told me that it's possible that someone with the exact same name as my dad was born in the same location with parents with the same names. Honestly, I think the odds are quite slim, but anything is possible.

But, after I thought about it, since my father's parents were both Italian immigrants, so possibly when they tried to spell my dad's name, they were misunderstood. The letter "e" in Italian sounds like the letter "a" in English. His name on his birth certificate is "Amilio" and he went by "Emilio."

She told me that I need to talk to the Italian Consulate to get the records modified in the US and get all my translations verified. As she was telling me that we were done, I had to tell her that I needed all my papers that she strewn all over her desk and even placed another file on top of them.

The only good piece of news the woman did give me was that the waiting period is about 1 to 2 months, depending on their workload. However, from what she told me, I have a lot more work to do to get documents modified and verified.

I walked out feeling a bit discouraged. Shorter wait time, but more work to get my documents in order.

I sent an email to the woman who is in charge of the citizenships at the Italian consulate in the US. Initially, she didn't know who I was (and I can understand since I've heard of so many people trying to file for citizenship). I tried to explain what the woman at the Comune di Firenze.

She told me the complete opposite: she said that first name misspellings/discrepancies are easily accepted and don't need to be modified. Then her email began to slowly become bitter. She told me that I wasn't allowed to file in two places and that it will just create a lot of havoc from my doing so. And in one fell swoop, he said that my file should be ready between June and December next year.

What? I had to read my email message twice to make sure the year, she wrote was 2006! The possible date was now only one year away and not two and a half like I was told. I had to email her back to make sure she knew that I wasn't filing in two places and that she has all of my documents. I didn't want her to pull my file out of the pile and stomp on it!

My email back to her was as ingratiating as I could possibly write it to make sure she knew that I didn't file in Italy, but that I did request information (mostly because she told me to do so).

So, now I'm pretty happy...I might get my Italian citizenship next year! I can't wait!

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