by Melinda Gallo

Passaporto italiano

After a great weekend, I was even more excited to go to the questura (police station) in via Zara yesterday morning. After arriving to via Benci and seeing my bus go past me, I walked to Piazza Santa Croce and took a cab. While we rushed through the narrow streets with bicyclists and scooters passing us by at times, I kept thinking about what my new passaporto (passport) will mean for me. Even though I have Italian citizenship, am I as Italian as the other people in the street, my taxi driver, the woman on her bicycle with an empty child seat behind her?

I rushed inside the questura and followed the signs to the Ufficio Passaporti (Passport Office). I was expecting to see a room full of people, but instead there were three sportelli (windows) with one poliziotto (policeman) in uniform sitting behind one of them working on the computer.

I stood in what should have been the line and said, “Buongiorno.” I wanted to make sure that he knew I was there because he seemed quite engrossed with his work. Just a few moments later, he asked me to come up to the sportello.

I handed him the three ricevute (receipts) that I was given at the other questura to pick up my passaporto as well as one for each of my suoceri (in-laws).

Ha spillato lei queste ricevute? (Did you staple these receipts together?)” he said. I was a little surprised since there was a timbro (stamp) on the stapled portion to prove that it was done at the questura. “No, signore,” I said without explaining.

He went to the back of the office and plucked out our passports one by one. He asked me to verify my own while he verified the other two. I was surprised to see that the date my passaporto was issued was only three days after I filed for it.

I held the hard-covered burgundy passaporto whose title was “Unione Europea Repubblica Italiana” in both hands and almost cried. Even though I took the giuramento (oath) a few months ago, got my new carta d’identità, and received a few letters stating that I now have cittadinanza italiana (Italian citizenship), the passaporto feels the most official. It means that not only those around me know that I am Italian, but the entire world does too.

When I travel, I can use my new Italian passaporto. For now, however, when I go to Paris, I only bring my carta d’identità with me and that feels amazing. To freely travel in Europe without being asked about my permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) is like a dream come true. I have been living in Europe for over 17 years (out of the last 22) and I can’t believe that my dream of having cittadinanza italiana through my nonni (grandparents) has finally became a reality.

I, for one, don’t feel any different, and I wouldn’t expect to; however, it is interesting how other people respond to me differently. Instead of being known as the “American,” I’m now known as the “Italian.” It’s funny because I feel as if I am a little bit of both with maybe even a touch of French too. Each place I have lived in has certainly had an influence on me.

When I walked out of the questura, I tightly held my passaporto in my hand and kept looking down at it. I feel as if I have won some sort of prize and keep looking at my passaporto, which I keep behind me when I sit at my desk. My new passaporto sits right next to my American one. One blue and one burgundy passaporto. The world is now officially my oyster.

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