Travel is part of me. I was born in Venezuela and within two years was living in Naples. I stayed in Naples, at two different places until, when I was 6, my family moved to the Bronx where my father was living. Four years later my mother divorced my father and move to a different place in the Bronx. We stayed in the Bronx for 5 more years at two different locations, then Yonkers for one year and then to Cornwall until I finished high school four years later. From there back to the Bronx to stay with my brother while I was attending college in Brooklyn [what a terrible commute] which lasted two semesters until I went to Middletown to attend Orange County Community. A year of that led to my meeting Alice in Albany and my moving up there with her. When she graduated and went back to work on Long Island I returned to Orange County to hang out with the few friends I had. For a couple of years.
Alice and I married in 1976 and rented an apartment in Merrick, NY while she worked as a teacher and I attended Hofstra. After I graduated I went to work for an oil and gas exploration company in Zapata Texas [that truly sucked] until I returned to Long Island to start working at the USGS. After a few months working for the Feds I was hired by a geological consulting firm. Three years later I was hired by an engineering firm in New Jersey and we moved back to Cornwall where we built a house and stayed in one place for 28 years.
During our domestic stint in Cornwall we raised two boys and numerous large and extra large dogs. When the boys set out on their own and Alice and I were approaching retirement, we decided to go early and to go far. I was accustomed to feeling like a stranger, like an outsider. I always felt that way in Cornwall even though it was the single place that I lived the longest. So why not feel like outsiders in a nicer place. Many nicer places. Go explore how people live and think. Find out what they thought is important, fun or stupid.
Thoughts of pulling roots first started to infect me when I was in my mid-forties. By that time I had taken my family on several overseas vacations, mostly ski trips but summer trips as well. The wanderlust started getting stronger as I got older. I started looking at european real-estate sites and saw that derelict farm houses could be bought with pocket change. About this time an Italian war comedy came out in the US which had an effect on me. The movie, Mediteraneo, was set on a Greek island during WWII. One of the scenes involved the Lieutenant sending two of his soldiers, brothers, to a high pasture overlooking the sea. The idea of buying a shepherds hut overlooking the Mediterranean struck me. It gave me a concussion. Such places just don’t exist for little people like me. Those properties tend to stay within families or are bought up by rich people. But nevermind that, that’s what I wanted to do. But there was a complication. I did not actually have proof that I was an Italian citizen.
Although I was born to Italian parents in Venezuela, making me an Italian citizen, when my parents naturalized in the USA, according to the Italian consulate I lost my Italian citizenship. Fuck. But it was worth trying so I went to the consulate where they wouldn’t hear about it. I had no case. But the word NO is only relative. So I went back a few other times with the same results. Crazy? Maybe, but I don’t give up that easy. So I started researching everything I could, including the actual laws that controlled my situation. My impression was that the people at the Italian consulate were not really experts but knew what they needed to know and just what they needed to know. There is nothing more important than smoking cigarettes and having espressos and talking about the relative merits of different cuisines. Learning the intricacies of migration law would serve only to get in the way of what is really important.
So I dove into becoming an amateur immigration expert. It didn’t take too long for me to find something that to me proved I was an Italian citizen. Paragraph 7 of the Italian law 555, June 13, 1912. (June 13 is my birthday so I saw this as a good omen) specifically states: for those born of Italian parents in a country that imparts citizenship at birth, that person has both Italian citizenship and the citizenship of his birth country and that person can not lose his Italian citizenship. No exceptions, no exclusions, no buts. Venezuela is, as is the US and all New World nations, one of those countries that imparts citizenship to everybody born on its territory.
So I brought this new found legal position to the Italian consulate. They could care less. They deal with the offspring of people who were born in Italy and came to the US to naturalize. Article 13 in the same law points out that dual citizenship was not allowed so naturalizing in any other country leads to the loss of Italian citizenship. These counselors could not get their heads around my situation. They put me in the same basket as everybody else. Fifteen years of fighting with them proved futile.
Now I could have gotten my citizenship by simply moving to italy and establishing residence. Once there my citizenship would have been returned to me. But there is a problem with this. I would have existed for a period of time without that citizenship. The time that my kids were born. So if I had followed that route, my kids would not be Italian citizens. So instead, when we did move to Sicily and established residence, I approached the authorities with article 7 in hand, expecting more arguments and fights. There was no fight. They accepted my premise immediately and a few months later I had my existing citizenship recognized and an Italian passport in hand. And my kids are also Italian.
So why is that so important? With Italian citizenship I am also an EU citizen. That gives me the right that I would not have otherwise. The right of movement and residence anywhere in the EU. Without it the most time I could spend anywhere in europe is 90 out of 180 days. Without citizenship I would have to apply for a very difficult to get long stay visa. I would be a second class person with restrictions that citizens do not have to deal with.
to be continued……..