Sei Sempre Stato Italiano

Sei Sempre Stato Italiano
Posted By Gia Lee @ Dec 14th 2020 12:49pm In: 1998 03 13 SC Real Estate

When the letter announcing that I had received Italian citizenship arrived, I couldn’t believe it was true. We were at the start of a global pandemic, it was February 27, 2020, and the letter was rudimentary enough—an 8x11 piece of paper typed (on a typewriter!) with an off-center rubber stamp at the top stating that, "we wish to inform you that you have been recognized as an Italian citizen by descent." I had spent almost two years gathering family documents, every birth, wedding and death certificate for every generation four generations back, and submitted them in person to the Italian Consulate in Miami. I was told to wait two years and not to call them before that (my first taste of the legendary Italian bureaucracy). So imagine my surprise when just a year and a half later (miracolo!) the letter arrived in my rusty letterbox in West Ashley.

The Latin phase "jure sanguinis" translates to "right of blood". My great-grandfather and great-grandmother Lorenzo Papini and Maria Filoni came to the United States from Italy in 1904. Their child, my grandfather, was born in the US before my great grandparents naturalized—before they renounced their Italian citizenship—so, according to Italian law, he was forevermore Italian. And when my father was born he was, therefore, Italian too... and it just keeps going (unless you were a woman born before 1948, in which case you can’t pass along your citizenship….my first taste of Italian sexism.)

So there is a process to reclaim your inherent citizenship, to have it recognized. If you think you might be eligible for Italian citizenship through bloodline I suggest you start your research by joining this Facebook group - Dual US Italian Citizenship. At first it may seem too daunting to even want to start the process of finding and gathering all the documents, translations, and authentications needed to apply. But I assure you the people you will meet along the way and the connection you will feel to your ancestry and lineage will be well worth your efforts. You might even crave a trip to Italy, which is likely why this pathway exists!

Growing up in the midwest with the name Gia Papini most people I met commented on my name and had their own ideas about what I was because of it. And being Italian was always talked about, even though I had never been to Italy and did not speak Italian (nor did my father; my grandfather spoke Italian as it was his first language).

Now that I am Italian—SONO ITALIANO!!--with a typed letter and a passoporto to prove it, I have mixed feelings. One part of me wants to drop everything and move the entire family to Italy, including our cat, Kitty Witty; the other part of me feels the giant gulf between here and there, every time I feel frustrated in Italian language class (my sister and I are taking private lessons with the wonderful Ornella!), or when I realize how much more bureaucracy I will have to surmount to find a job there for me and for my husband.

At those times, Matt tries to convince me that the achievement itself was worth the effort, and to be patient for the dividends to arrive. We try to imagine the anxiety Lorenzo and Maria felt as they faced that journey across the Atlantic into the unknown, and are thankful we can honor their courage and their success, while we play it relatively safe, with a foot in both the New and Old Worlds.

Share on Social Media:

Follow us on