Saturday, February 08, 2014
Italy, like Ireland, allows "heritage" dual citizenship for Americans who can prove genealogical descent (and who are willing to assemble a ton of documents and jump through a lot of hoops), and after years of talking about it, my dad finally submitted all the paperwork through the Italian consulate in Los Angeles; eleven months later, the members of my immediate family have dual citizenship (Cosimo will be eligible in October, after we've been married for three years). If I can convince the New York consulate to update my address, I could have an Italian passport as early as next month.
It's a weird thing. I can't decide if it's more James Bond--a lock-box full of passports!--or more suburban-Subaru with a rear-window full of college and country decals. Since I have no plans to move to the EU, in the short-term this basically buys me shorter lines at European customs & immigration and means I wouldn't need a visa if wanted to spend more than 90 days in an EU country (e.g., while on a sabbatical or leading a study abroad program). Given that Italy does not offer birthright citizenship and in fact makes citizenship very hard to obtain for the children of immigrants, I admit I'm a little uncomfortable with the politics of the program; by all means, take whatever advantage you can of Italian-American pride, nostalgia, and tourism dollars--but my Italian "blood" does not make me as Italian as a kid of North African descent whose first language is Italian and who has lived there his entire life.
Still. My discomfort doesn't mean I won't be flashing my passport and speaking with the approximate fluency of a six-year-old at every future opportunity.