Guess what?! For the first time in well over a year, I am not going to write about some aspect of Covid. Not that there isn’t anything for me to write about – getting my EU Digital Covid Certificate, the rise of the delta variant, the on-going indoor dining debate, my upcoming travel – I’m sure I’ll get to all that in future posts, but this week was a celebration for me and I want to, well, celebrate that.
This week was my ten-year anniversary of becoming an Italian citizen. I still remember the exact moment on 13th July 2011. I would usually stop and get my mail from the box on my way up to my apartment after work, but my hands were full that evening so I didn’t. Later that night, I thought I might have a Netflix envelope (DVDs, remember those?!) waiting for me and I was bored and needed something to watch. So, I went down to my mail box and the letter that, quite literally, changed my life was waiting for me.
It had been such a long road to get to get that letter and at so many points along the way I thought it wasn’t going to happen. But I stuck with it because I wanted it so badly. But wow, the process of getting your Italian citizenship is a long haul. I got my citizenship through my maternal great grandfather and the final application was three inches thick. It took more than two years to get together with all sorts of bumps along the way.
The biggest was that my great grandfather’s records were destroyed in the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake. I ended up hiring Peter Farina who had a burgeoning business (Italy Mondo) helping people like me put their applications together. He went to the village in Abruzzi where my family is from, met with cousins of mine I never knew existed, who took him to the parish priest (church records are as legit as civil records in Italy). When that proved a dead end, he made a call – to the Vicar of Rome. He then drove to Rome for an appointment with said Vicar and was able to find what we needed in the Vatican records. Incidentally, the charge for Peter’s “worry-free citizenship” service was $1500 and it was worth every penny. Peter’s business has since taken off and the same service now starts at $8000. It would still be worth every penny but I’m glad I got in there early!
Once the application was done, I thought I was home free. Nothing left but the interview, right? Hah! That interview was one of the most stressful days I can remember. I was living in Los Angeles and my interview was at the Italian consulate in April 2011. For those who know LA, my appointment was at 9:30am – I lived in North Hollywood and the consulate was in Westwood. Yeah. And there was a last minute issue with one of my documents and I had to find a place along the way where I could receive a fax from Peter in Italy. (DVDs?! Faxes?! I swear, this really was only ten years ago!)
During the interview there was an issue. A big issue. A dream-derailing issue. One of my documents was a church document from the US because the civil document couldn’t be located. As I said, church documents are as valid as civil documents so we didn’t think this would be an issue. But Raffaella, my interviewer at the consulate, said that she couldn’t process the application unless she had the equivalent document that would have been filed in Rome. My heart sank. Finding that document in Rome was not going to be possible, I just knew it. So, that was it. My dream was dead. It took all of my self-control to not burst into tears right then and there.
But then Raffaella told me to hang on a minute and she left to talk to a colleague. I’m sure she was gone for about five minutes but it was an eternity to me. When she came back she basically said “never mind” and approved my application to move forward to be processed. I was so relieved and happy it again took all of my self-control to not burst into tears. Raffaella told me that the current wait for an application to be processed was 18 months. I knew that and was prepared to wait. But then, for a reason still bewildering to me, Raffaella decided that I shouldn’t have to wait that long and she marked my application to be expedited. In the span of 30 minutes I’d gone from the lowest low to the highest high. And what should have taken a minimum of 18 months, took me only three months. In the time I should have been waiting to hear about my application, I was already planning my move to Ireland.
And speaking of Ireland, I am now waiting to hear about my Irish citizenship application. This application was much simpler and more straightforward but my wait is definitely going to be longer. My application went in in September 2020. I’ve friends who sent in their applications in November 2019 and February 2020 and they haven’t heard anything yet, so I’ve still got some time to go. The average time for an application to be processed is 12 months, but between Brexit and covid, things are obviously taking longer. I’d be thrilled if I heard before the end of this year, but I’m prepared to wait longer, for as long as it takes.
And when it does (hopefully!) happen, it’ll be my Italian citizenship that made my Irish citizenship possible. I look forward to celebrating both in the future!