Asking for help at the American Consulate

Friday, September 30, 2005

It was a beautiful morning when I left the house. I walked along the Arno river to go to the American consulate, which sits on the corner surrounded by policemen. There are no cars that can drive past the consulate and it's all gated so that you have to walk around to get inside.

I spoke to the first Italian policeman and he asked me what I wanted. I told him that I needed to talk to someone about some papers I have that need to get certified. He asked me for my passport and let me through. The next man told me to give him my phone and scanned my purse in a x-ray machine. To get inside, I had to walk through the metal detector.

The policeman handed me a number, but there was only one other person inside waiting. I had to tell the girl what I was there for and I just summarized, by saying that I had to "legalizzare qualche documento americano" (legalize a few American documents).

The woman behind the bullet-proof glass asked me again and I had to explain everything. I told her that I have my father's birth certificate, his death certificate, his parent's marriage certificate, and my birth certificate. What I need from them is a certificate stating that the person on my father's birth certificate is the same. Because by looking at all the other dates and names, it's obvious. The same parents on both birth and death certificates and same dates. I figured "Amilio" and "Emilio" is a simple mistake. The letter "E" in Italian is pronounced "A".

She didn't know, but asked another man to come up. He came up and the minute I said, "Italian citizenship," he said, "We don't help anyone get Italian citizenship. And if your father was born in Italy we can't change any document." I tried to explain that my father was born in the US and that the Italians state in an official document that all discrepancies must be certified by the consulate (American, in my case). But, he wouldn't have it. He said, "We don't do any such thing. You'll have to correct the birth certificate yourself." But, I explained again what the Italians are requesting and he responded, "We don't write anything in Italian." "Yes, I understand that. I'm asking for a document stating that after looking at all of my father's documentation that they are all the same person."

After saying no each time to everything I asked, he said he'd ask the consulate general. I was grateful even though I know he didn't really want to ask him.

As I sat there, I was thinking to myself that maybe I could send some good vibes and they'll do this for me.

As he walked back, I could see it wasn't going to be great news. He told me that all they can do is have me write a letter in English stating that they're the same person and they'll put a big stamp on it. "Remember, we don't do anything in Italian."

As I left, I thought about what he said and how maybe I should get my dad's birth certificate changed. When I got home, I called the NY office of vital records and they told me that no changes to a birth certificate to a person who has passed away can be made.

So, now back to square one with what to do. I called the lawyer and she's going to talk to the Italian government again and we'll see what happens next.

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

September 2005


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