My husband, Tony, is Italian. His family has lived in the United States for five generations, but once Italian, always Italian. In 2007 we found out about a law in Italy that allows descendants of Italian emigrants to come back and claim citizenship. All you need is a genealogical paper trail proving that you have a direct Italian line and nobody in it ever renounced their Italian citizenship (i.e. by being naturalised in a foreign country). So we spent many hours on this helpful website and several months collecting birth, death, and marriage certificates for Tony and all his ancestors. We went all the way back to Great-great-grandfather Domenico Bodrero and his wife, Henriette Chatelain, who joined the Mormon Church in the mid-19th century, sailed to America, and then crossed the plains with the pioneers to settle in a little mountain valley in Utah.
Once we had all the documents, we were ready to make the move. It is possible to apply for recognition of Italian citizenship at a consulate in the United States, but it takes years, and we were impatient to be in Italy. So we bought one-way plane tickets, packed up our two toddlers and all our precious documents, and landed in Italy, speaking virtually no Italian. Seven grueling months later, we had done enough convincing, waiting, begging, and praying for the paperwork to finally be completed, and we could even speak passable Italian.
With Italian citizenship, Tony could legally live and work in any country in the European Union. Unfortunately, a few months later we had a family emergency and had to return to the United States. We really missed the gelato, the beautiful countryside, the laid-back lifestyle, and all our wonderful Italian friends.
We went back to Italy twice more in 2010 (to live in Florence, and then for Tony to take a job in Piedmont). We’re not currently there, but even with all the moving around we’ve done, Italy still keeps a special place in our hearts. I don’t know that we’ll ever end up living there again (although we’re very happy Tony’s citizenship allows us to live and work in Europe), but we love to visit. Because once you’ve been to Italy, nowhere else in the world is really quite the same.
For more about the nitty-gritties of our journey to Italian citizenship (as well as my more recent steps toward Italian citizenship by marriage), click on Citizenship in the tag cloud on the right sidebar.