Wednesday, May 4, 2011

La Vita e Bella

It's funny how life can surprise you. There are times when you're trying to work out a plan in your head and all of a sudden, it so clearly unfolds right in front of you. You start thinking, there must be a catch. But there isn't.

Last weekend, my husband and I went out for a late afternoon hike with our dogs. We love to do this together--I find its when we connect best. We're out there huffing and puffing, taking in the fresh air, smiling at our dogs as they sniff and run and play, and, mainly, talking about life and dreaming about what we want for our future. We're big dreamers, if you couldn't tell.

Last weekend's topic? Italy. Who doesn't dream about Italy? I studied abroad there in college and became fluent in the language. My husband and I went back a few years ago (where we got engaged!) and he became fluent in the art. We hiked pilgrimage roads to medieval towns, drank wine at countryside stands for two euro, and traveled everywhere by train--even getting stuck in one tiny village because it was a holiday, and trains don't run normally on holidays. We've been on several vacations and this one glistens for me. There's something about the evenings in Italy, when everyone in whatever town you're in goes out for a passeggiatta (a walk), that just holds me.

When I got home, I started Googling around for expat communities in Italy. For, you know, later in life. I came across La Vita e Bella, a blog run by an American couple in their 20s who recently moved to Florence. I also came across the term jure sanguinis. Huh?

I read on. Jure sanguinis is a social policy that determines citizenship not by where you are born, but by your lineage. And, Italy is one of the only countries in which this policy is multi-generational.

Okay, I was thinking, my husband's great-grandfather was Italian. What does that mean?!

Essentially, it means that if a family member in your lineage was born in Italy, you too have Italian citizenship by birth right. Um, for reals?

After more research, I found the rules.

1) Say it was your great-grandfather who was Italian (like my husband's). If he came to the U.S., he had to have your grandfather or grandmother before gaining U.S. citizenship, otherwise your grandparent is a U.S. citizen, and not an Italian one, therefore unable to pass it along to you.

2) Prior to 1948, women couldn't pass along citizenship. So, if your grandmother was the last born in Italy, she had to have your mom or dad after 1948, otherwise your parent did not receive citizenship.

Those are the biggest deal breakers. So far, I can cross #2 off our list--my husband's line is all male. And, I haven't found reason to believe his great-grandfather ever naturalized into the U.S., meaning the citizenship should be traveling freely right on down the line.

As amazing as it sounds--with Italian citizenship you get EU citizenship--it's going to take a lot of grunt work to see it through. In order to get your Italian citizenship recognized, you have to compile more than a handful of birth, death, and marriage certificates and proof of naturalization (or not). The best way to find the list of what you need is at But, remember, what you need also depends on where you apply (either in Italy or at your local consulate), so it's best to check with them.

After reading all of this, I wondered how it affected me. As a spouse, if you live in Italy, you can apply for citizenship after just six months. If you live abroad (like, in the U.S.), you have to be married for three years to be able to apply. Not three years from the citizenship approval, but three years total.

Why would we want dual citizenship? For the freedom it brings. Say we want to pick up and move to Italy for an unforeseen amount of time. We can. If a job pops up in an EU country, we can apply without having to convince the company to sponsor a work visa. We can pass it along to our children, once we have them.

Plus, it brings dreams just a 'lil bit closer.

Do you have Italian ancestors?


  1. I'm so jealous! We're looking into moving to Paris for a year, and I was really hoping that I would be able to get dual citizenship from my Irish roots, but there was a snag with the whole great grandparent thing (can't remember the specifics) and it's a no-go. Too bad neither of us have any Italian!

  2. yes become Italian alicia! Come here and let's plan weddings together :)

  3. That is so cool! I'd love to move to Italy, but no Italian relatives here!

  4. Ali, that's such amazing news! I hope you two find the opportunity to live abroad in Italy - being an expat is a truly unique experience. I hope the best for you two! :)

  5. Alicia -- So glad you found our blog and discovered dual citizenship. Isn't it amazing?!