Sunday, March 21, 2010

Path to Italian Dual Citizenship

John Galleano - Great GrandfatherGiuseppe Bruno - Great Grandfather
These are photos of our great grandfathers through whom we obtained Italian citizenship with jure sanguinis. Both were fathers of the fathers of our mothers. They immigrated to the USA from Italy in the early 20th century.


We both applied for Italian citizenship through jure sanguinis. We're close, but not quite there. Last month, we sent in a few missing pieces of information. At this time, our applications are being processed. That’s all we know. 


Our initial appointments to review our applications and associated paperwork for Italian citizenship took place two months ago. We had each requested our consulate appointments via email. Submitted within minutes of another, the earliest dates they had available were over a year and a half later and exactly a week apart. Does the consulate process only one application per week? Not all consulates have the same lead time or appointment scheduling. Here’s a list of Italian consulates in the U.S. You must work with the one that serves the area you live in. We opted for “mail-in review” since we don’t live near the consulate office in San Francisco which serves the Northwest.

The idea of dual Italian citizenship came to us in 2007 as we were planning our sabbatical to Italy. Part of the sabbatical then became a quest to gather the necessary paperwork – and there is no shortage of that. For our 2007 trip we decided that Visas were the best strategy and so we got them for that trip.

If your family members live in the same consular jurisdiction as you, and are interested in citizenship, then seriously consider combining efforts and doing the citizenship interview together. For example, if your sister or brother wants to apply for citizenship, the only difference between your paperwork and theirs may be an additional birth certificate. Again, check with the consulate that serves your area.

Jure Sanguinis

We engaged the Italian Consulate in San Francisco under whose jurisdiction Seattle comes. If you look at the forms section of the site, you’ll see a form called Application for Italian citizenship “Jure Sanguinis” (link as of today). What’s jure sanguinis? I’ll quote from a story of someone who did gain dual-citizenship:

Jure sanguinis - the Latin phrase meaning “continuity of blood” or “by the right of blood” - is the right of citizenship under Italian Nationality Law by virtue of one’s ancestry. As with many aspects of Italian and Italian-American life and culture, the rules surrounding Italian citizenship jure sanguinis are complex and, in some cases, counterintuitive. [source: article by Michael Votto]

Now back to the Jure Sanguinis form. To find it, go to the San Francisco Consulate web site; go to the part of the web site dealing with citizenship. There is a form called Jure Sanguinis. There are a number of ways to claim Jure Sanguinis. To illustrate by way of example, we’ll focus on what was relevant for us. For Travelmarx (both of us) option #5 applies which is:
Your paternal or maternal grandfather was born in the United States, your paternal or maternal great grandfather was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen at the time of your paternal or maternal grandfather’s birth, neither you nor your father/mother nor your grandfather/grandmother ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship.
In each of our cases, our Italian bloodlines are most easily proven via our paternal great grandfathers (pictured above). So one reads down to the section applying to option 5 and finds this list of required documents:

  5. Your paternal/maternal GRANDFATHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
  6. Your paternal/maternal GRANDMOTHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
  8. Your father’s BIRTH CERTIFICATE
  9. Your mother’s BIRTH CERTIFICATE
  10. Your parents’ MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
Documents 1 -3 were obtained directly from Italian sources. We actually got these documents in person (for example in Palermo and Piemonte). (It goes without saying, but you should get multiple copies of these documents.) Documents 4 – 13 are all U.S. documents. Some documents such as your birth certificate will need to have an apostille attached. An apostille is a legalization provided by the Office of the Secretary of State of the state in which the document is issued. The path to getting an apostille for any given document will depend on the state in which the document was issued. For example, to get a New York birth certificate apostilled you first have to get a letter of exemplification before the apostille. (See this informative post.) The place you apply to get your records will be different than the place you have them apostilled so there’s lots of researching of government agencies on the Internet, calling, mailing and otherwise running around. It’s part of the experience.


Document #4 in the required documents list, the certificate of naturalization, proved to be a bit tricky. In our original applications, we sent copies of our great-grandfather's naturalization certificates. (One of our great grandfather’s certificate copy came from family records the other came from Homeland Security records, a C-File.) However, these copies turned out to not be sufficient even though we thought we were following the instructions closely. Here’s the email response we received back from the consulate indicating specifically what they required:
Either the original of your ancestor’s naturalization certificate or a certified copy of what the National Archives has on file concerning his acquiring US citizenship. They will not certify the certificate, but they will certify all the rest, including the oath, which is what we need. It will have a red ribbon on it. If you send the original, you will need to enclose a pre-paid self-addressed USPS envelope for the return of the document to you. We do not accept any other form of pre-paid mail.

So we both went to the National Archives site and ordered up red ribbon copies. One of our great grandfathers was naturalized in a federal court (in New York) so the National Archives had all the supporting documentation including his oath of allegiance. The other great grandfather was eventually naturalized in Riverside County Superior court (California) and so the National Archives red ribbon copies provided some supporting documentation (his first applications via federal courts which were denied). And Riverside County Superior court archives delivered the essential documents attesting to his naturalization there. Confusing? Kind of. You just have to go with the process and find out what works.

Be prepared

The short ½ of Travelmarx had to provide, in addition to the items above, a copy of a US passport and a statement (in email) that he was never married. It’s odd because the taller ½ of Travelmarx did not have to provide that information. The other items that the shorter ½ of Travelmarx had to provide were copies of the marriage certificate and divorce decree for a first marriage of his mother. Point of the this: be prepared.


The article by Michael Votto [link] enumerates a few pros and cons of dual (Italian) citizenship. The pros: a passport from a country that is a member of the European Union (E.U.) means you live, travel, and work more freely in any E.U. country. Other possible benefits include healthcare, the ability to purchase property, and the right to pass on citizenship to heirs. The cons: tax liabilities (generally equitable, but filing will be more complex if you have foreign income), possible military responsibilities, and more trouble getting a U.S. security clearance. To tell you the truth, we don’t know which of these pros or cons will be a joy or pain because it’s still early in the process.
The United States government’s position on dual citizenship: they recognize it but don’t encourage it stating that:
The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has a stronger claim to that person's allegiance. [U.S. Department of State Web site]
Finally, a great resource for Italian info and citizenship is Expat Talk, and this guy has a nice and recent story about his successful dual citizenship quest.

A Word About Services That Claim to Assist You

Be careful! If you search for “Italian citizenship” on the Internet you’ll find lots of services offering to gather the documents for you and perhaps shepherd them through the process. We initially tried one and it was a waste of time and money. We recommend that you don’t use them. It’s better to manage the paperwork yourself. It may be challenging at times but can be made easier by getting support from the forums or folks that have already done it.

Update January 2011

We now both have our citizenship confirmed with a letter from the consulate. Hooray! One notice came months ago and the other came recently. We are attaching the redacted notice (2 pages) below to show what it looks like. Here's post on getting passports.

Italian Citizenship Notification Page Redacted
Italian Citizenship Notification Page Redacted

Update 2021

It's 2021 and it's hard to believe it's been 10 years since this post was written. Since then, we moved to Italy, established residency, and obtained our national identity cards and health cards. All of this comes with expected and unexpected consequences that we discovered along the way. For example, how taxes work. (We pay taxes in both countries and it's complicated. In the future, we'll write more on this subject.) 

Despite the times we were ready to throw in the towel and call it quits, we persevered and now live in Italy. We like to think our great grandfathers pictured at the beginning of this post would be proud. But then again, they left Italy for a reason and maybe they would find it bizarre that we returned?

Friends joke with us and say we are living a "postcard-life" and that we are "living the dream". That makes us chuckle. Whose dream? What dream? We just followed our instincts and curiosity, and that led us here. 

Update 2022

The Blue Octavo Notebooks

The Blue Octavo Notebooks - Franz Kafka
The Blue Octavo Notebooks are two years of Franz Kafka’s notes from 1917 to 1918. Franz Kafka (1883-1924) is the author of the classic fiction The Trial (1925) and The Metamorphosis (1912) among others. The title of the notebooks was devised by Max Brod, Kafka’s literary executor and close friend, to differentiate them from the regular quarto-sized notebooks Kafka used as diaries. The Octavo Notebooks contain literary ideas, fragments and aphorisms.

What drew me to Kafka’s notebooks is Max Richter’s wonderful release The Blue Notebooks which includes some spoken bits (read by Tilda Swinton) from the Octavo Notebooks combined with Richter’s haunting arrangements. I listened to Richter’s release for several months before deciding to check out the notebooks. The opening musical track has Swinton reading the first entry in the notebook:

"Everyone carries a room about inside him. This fact can even be proved by means of the sense of hearing. If someone walks fast and one pricks up one’s ears and listens, say in the night, when everything round about is quiet, one hears, for instance, the rattling of a mirror not quite firmly fastened to the wall."

My favorite entry in the notebook and also used in the Richter’s work (track 7 “Arboretum”) comes in the third notebook:

“November 6. Like a path in autumn: scarcely has it been swept clear when it is once more covered with dry leaves.”
I’m not sure why that line speaks to me but it does. Maybe it has to do with my fall yard chores and the futility of picking up leaves (or doing many things?) too early. A couple other aphorisms from the notebooks:

“The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual. That is why the revolutionary spiritual movements that declare all former things worthless are in the right, for nothing has happened yet.”

“The decisively characteristic thing about this world is its transience. In this sense centuries have no advantage over the present moment.”

“Art flies around truth, but with the definite intention of not getting burnt. Its capacity lies in finding in the dark void a place where the beam of light can be intensely caught, without this having been perceptible before.”

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The London Book of the Dead

The London Book of the Dead - Real Tuesday Weld
If I hear that song about the iPod stuck on replay (Iyaz?) I’m gonna shove that iPod where the sun don’t shine. Ok, calm down. I’m not going to change listening habits appreciably or even one iota, but I would like to submit anyways that *any* song on The Real Tuesday Weld album The London Book of the Dead beats that song hands down.

This is the same artist that I raved about in a previous post. I’m still obsessed with that album but decided to broaden my horizons a bit and try another release. First, is that not a great title? From the reviews I read, the title references the Tibetan Book of the Dead in that the music is a passage from one existence to another. Second, Weld’s sonic palette of clarinet, guitar, violins, oboe, spoken word, electronic rhythms, and simple but clever lyrics is perfect. Their style has been dubbed "antique beat". Throw in some great collaborators (like the Puppini Sisters) and what’s not to like. Here are a few videos: the toe-tapping Cloud Cuckooland, Apart, and Last Words, and the Cole Porter-ish Kix.

Let's Evolve: Change We Can Believe In

Mike Rosulek Darwin Poster
Every politician promises change but it never seems to arrive. Well, there is change you can believe in: the change brought about by the process of natural selection, the key mechanism of evolution. The image is courtesy of Mike Rosulek. His take on the iconographic Obama poster has several versions all around the theme of evolution. Profits from use of the images benefit the National Center for Science Education (NSCE) - a great organization whose mission is to keep evolution a part of science education.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - Richard Feynman
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman is a collection of essays, interviews, and transcribed speeches from the well-known scientist, popularizer of physics, and polymath Richard Feynman (1918-1988). Feynman won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 (jointly with two other scientists) for his work in quantum physics, but his list of accomplishments doesn’t stop there. He also worked on the development of the atomic bomb. He helped usher in the field of nanotechnology with a seminal 1959 lecture There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom (included in this collection). He was also an accomplished juggler, safecracker, and bongo player to just list a few of his diverse interests.

The name of the collection of works takes its name from the first essay which is a transcription of a 1981 BBC/Horizon (Nova in the U.S.) television program. The collection revolves around the themes of curiosity and the drive to find things out, how Feynman’s father was instrumental in cultivating that drive in him, and the essentialness of doubt in science. The last theme resonated the strongest for me many times throughout the collection. For example, in Chapter 4, The Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society (a talk given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy in 1964), Feynman says:

“We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and there is no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified – how can you live and not know?”

Later in Chapter 6, The Value of Science, Feynman says similarly:

“It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress and the great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress that is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom, to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed, and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.”

Sadly, this point of view finds so little traction these days. To doubt is to be weak. To be certain – even with provably wrong ideas – is strength.

The part of the collection that dragged the most for me was the Minority Report to the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry. An important piece of work in the history of science and spaceflight for sure, I just couldn’t grasp it that easily. One could easy skip this piece and not miss the spirit of the collection in my opinion. The rest of the collection reads fairly easily and enjoyably. I hadn’t read much before from or about Feynman. I had watched a couple of lectures (the Messenger Series courtesy of Microsoft Research and Project Tuva) and had Feynman’s voice and mannerisms in my mind as I read which I think helped.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Please, Easter Bunny: Theo Toasted Coconut For Me

Theo Toasted Cocunut Bar
I just tasted the “easter” bar from Theo: Toasted Coconut. It's excellent. If, like me, before you were chocolate-enlightened, you did enjoy Mounds, then this new Theo bar is for you. It’s less cloying because the percentage of chocolate is greater, 70%, and it’s toasted coconut. I haven’t put an easter basket out for 25 or so years, but this year, I’m going to get a basket with some of that fake, plastic grass inside and hope for the best.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Smith Tower: The Chinese Room

Gothic Cap of Smith Tower
We never had been up to the Chinese Room on the 35th floor of the Smith Tower, so it was time. It’s a nice view I’ll give it that, especially on a clear day when you can see the Olympics and Rainier. But, be prepared, once up there you realize how many hard expanses of cement and buildings are all around. What did I expect, it is a city after all? To the east is I-5, to the west Route 99 and the water. To the north, the rest of the city, and to the south Seattle's industrial section.

The Smith Tower was built by the Smith family that made their name in the manufacture of small arms (much like Remington & Sons) and went on to produce the Smith Corona typewriter. In 1909, Lyman Cornelius (L.C.) Smith, a New York tycoon, for some reason (expansion of his company?) planned for 14-story building to be built in Seattle. Eventually, with the urging of his son, the plans morphed into the present day structure. When the Smith Tower opened on July 4, 1914 it was the fourth tallest building in the world at 522 feet and remained in this position for 50 years. Of particular interest is the Chinese Room located on the 35th floor. The interior of the room was a gift to L.C. Smith from Empress Cixi, the last Empress of China. The gift was in response to a gift of L.C. Smith rifles and Smith-Corona typewriters that Smith brought with him on a trade mission to China. The Chinese Room can be rented for your special occasion.
View From Smith Tower Looking Northwest
View from Smith Tower looking Northwest toward the Harbor.

View of Smith Tower from the Ground (from the South)
View of Smith Tower from the South, on the Ground.

Chinese Roome Ceiling Detail
Chinese Room Ceiling Detail.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians

Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief - Movie Poster 

What possessed us to see this movie? We are still scratching our heads on that question. I’m sure there are those who will like the movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, which is based on the book of the same name by Rick Riordan. The usual suspects in movie plotline were present: the road trip / quest, unfairly framed-person-as-a-fugitive-on-the-nightly-news, dysfunctional family dynamics, Las Vegas, the end of the world, and a diabolical plan that doesn’t make sense. 

Apparently the plot for the movie was quite different from the book; maybe they should have stuck to the book. The one, minor plotline we will call out is the one where Percy’s protector, a satyr named Grover, gets his horns – that is, sort of graduates from junior protector. In the movie, he spent a sumptuous night in hell with Persephone and then came back with horns. What did we tell you about the over-used plotlines?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Got Nordic Heritage?

Got Nordic Heritage?
On a sunny Seattle Sunday morning jog from the Locks to Golden Gardens we came upon the Leif Erikson statue at Shilshole. The statue is an impressive 17 feet tall in an equally impressive setting of runes. The statue is a tribute to the Scandinavian (Danes, Finns, Icelanders, Norwegians, and Swedes) immigrants to this area, particular Ballard, unveiled originally in 1962 for the World’s Fair. The recent refurb was the brainchild of the Leif Erikson International Foundation (LEIF). For more of the story (saga is appropriate here) see the LEIF website. Leif Erikson (c. 970 – c. 1020) was a Norse explorer considered the first European to set foot in North America. Who first set foot in North America seems to be an open question. However, LEIF’s promotion of Leif has got legs, much as the statue does.
Plaque Description
Leif Erikson Has Got Legs
Leif Erikson Front