Una Idea Grande

We spent a long time preparing for this morning’s meeting with Gianfranco, and it essentially went just as we had hoped. We popped in at about 11:30, and Tony announced, smiling broadly, that we had come up with an “idea grande.” Then he turned to me so I could explain that we’d gotten email addresses for all the consulates, and thought we could contact them so they would respond to his faxes.

Gianfranco replied that all had responded but two. Manila and (of course) San Francisco. To be fair, San Francisco the most work to do to confirm that nobody renounced citizenship, since Tony and all his ancestors lived in multiple locations within the consular jurisdiction within a space of over 150 years. I only hope San Francisco doesn’t choose to meddle in our case, since by their interpretation of the law, only people born after 1912 can claim citizenship. He gave us copies of his fax, so we’ll be sending off the emails today.

Then we came to the real purpose of our visit. When Gianfranco mentioned the Ministro, I was ready. “Doesn’t the mayor have the authority to do it?” I remarked innocently. He began to talk about the many, many doubts he had because it goes back five generations and it’s so long ago, and Italy wasn’t even a country, etc., etc., etc.

At this point, I began to play my pre-determined role of sympathetic interpreter (although I tripped over my Italian plenty of times), while Tony continued as the demanding, slightly obtuse American. He asked for a piece of paper so he could write down each and every doubt. He began numbering them, starting with “5 generations.”

Gianfranco explained that he was sending everything to the Ministry because it was so many generations back, and all so long ago. Before Italy became a country! He talked about how the Church birth record for Domenico, which was in Latin, was from Lagnasco, and he wasn’t sure if Lagnasco was a part of France or the Savoy Kingdom at the time Domenico was born. Of course we know it is Italy, he remarked, but still, the Ministry must decide.

It emerged a little later that this doubt of his was amplified by Great Uncle Blaine’s erroneous information on Louis’ death certificate (in which he claimed that Henriette was Swiss and Domenico was French). Bleh. He started speculating that maybe the Ministry would ask for additional documentation regarding Domenico’s citizenship. Such as a document from the French government stating he never naturalized in France!

Next, we discussed the marriage certificate for Domenico and birth certificate for Louis, for both of which we are substituting letters from the L.D.S. Church. The reason for that, as I pointed out to Gianfranco, is that the events in question happened in 1868 and 1873 respectively, before Utah even became a state. I pointed out that it was analogous to Italy, where Church documents can be substituted for civil ones if they are from a time period before the civil registry began. He acknowledged that this should be the case, but reaffirmed that it was the Ministry that must make the decision.

He’s doing an excellent job, really. There is nothing to fault in his performance. He even told me about the research he had done into his previous doubt regarding the women in Tony’s line. Because they were both married after 1948, there is no problem on that front. It makes sense that he should send it to the Ministry.

The only problem is that if he sends it to the Ministry, it will be there lying in a pile on the desk of some nameless, faceless minion who hates his job for who knows how long. We begin to understand why Gianfranco thought the process would take “anni e anni” (years and years). I did feel for him when he brought out a three-inch high stack of stapled papers and flipped about halfway through it before he found an email he’d written to the Ministry about what to do in our case. They did say that if he was unsure he should follow the recommendation of the (famous) circolare K.28 of 1991 and send it into the Ministry for their decision.

In the end, we consolidated all his doubts into two: #1 Was Lagnasco part of Italy (or the Savoy duchy) in 1826 when Domenico was born? #2 Are the records from the L.D.S. Church acceptable?

Carla came down to get a package just as we were arriving at home, and we showed her our faxes and chatted a little. We expressed our concern about Gianfranco sending it to the Ministry, and me being illegal, and not being able to travel anywhere for business or grandparents, or anything for years.

When she found out that all that needs to happen is for the Mayor to not have any doubts, she was instantly relieved. “The mayor thinks very highly of you,” she assured us. In fact, she just arrived home from a week-long vacation on the French coast with the Mayor. She said he was confiding his plans for Chiusa Pesio. He wants to move the chocolate shop closer to the city hall. He also thinks it would be grand if we opened a store-front for our business. In Chiusa Pesio!

Carla said she would be happy to go with us to talk to Gianfranco or the Mayor or both, and she was sure the Mayor would quickly dispel Gianfranco’s two doubts.

We can almost not believe that it will all be ending soon. How many times have I written those words? But how very Italian for it all to work out this way.