Escape Artists

Italian Dual Citizenship: Italian Passport

Once I decided to get an Italian passport there was certainly no turning back.  Plans of obtaining an Italian citizenship were discussed with such passion that I had to move forward.  I realized I had absolutely no idea on how to get an Italian passport, so as a stalling technique, I decided I needed to learn Italian before I could go any further.  My goal was to read Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian before I would even start the process.  That should bide me some time!

My time at the Italian Institute

In 2003, I enrolled at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Los Angeles, CA with my daughter, Blaine.  I thought it would be great fun to practice together, and she was always up for learning a new language.   I was sure I would be able to pick up the language quickly as I was raised with the sounds of Italy.  Without going into great detail, that was another statement that was not necessarily correct.

During my time at the Institute, I happened to take a class with Fr. Greg Apparcel, a priest from my parish church. I was surprised to learn he was moving to Rome to become the rector of the American church Santa Susanna.  He took to learning Italian like a duck to water whereas I pretty much had a hard time keeping afloat.

I attended many events and cooking classes at the Institute during that time, which continued to fuel my desire for citizenship.  I dreamed of buying a home in Calabria and living there several months a year.  I wanted a place where family and friends could come and enjoy a simpler lifestyle.  Again my husband, Jeff wasn’t completely sure about this turn of events, but he learned along ago not to underestimate me.

An American and EU citizen! An American and EU citizen!

In the beginning

In the beginning, my assumption was getting dual citizenship would be nothing more than producing my grandmother’s or grandfather’s birth certificate.  Both my grandparents and my father had passed away by then, and information had been lost.  My aunt Elena knew more about the family and she was the only one that truly applauded my efforts.  So how hard could that be?  I’ll just look online.

There wasn’t a lot of information on dual citizenship going around the web at that time and I wasn’t really very web savvy.  Of course now it is different: many people are looking for their heritage and a way to travel the world more freely.  But if getting an Italian passport were easy, I would have missed out on the ‘adventure!’

Taking baby steps for Italian dual citizenship

The Italian Consulate General has many rules regarding qualifications for obtaining dual citizenship .  I fell under this category: “Your father was born in the United States, your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your father’s birth, neither you nor your father ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship.”

I knew the first part of the statement, my father was born in the United States was true, but making sure the rest of it was true took me 3 years.

continued fromthe answer!

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.

Being willing is not enough; we must do.
~Leonardo da Vinci

Do you qualify for dual citizenship?

Share your story with our readers!


The journey is interesting and I am learning many interesting facts about our Italian/Swiss family tree.  Unfortuneately, I am seeing variations on the spellng of my Swiss grandmother’s names on marriage/birth documents. Do you have any info on how the Consulate handles that? Also, on my father’s birth certificate, the “o” was left off my grandfather’s first name name, and that is who I am claiming my Itallian citizenship through.

Elizabeth says:

I am happy to hear that you are learning about your family and their heritage.  It really is quite a journey. The misspelling of names is a familiar problem.  In my experience, the consulate uses the official birth certificate spelling. Good Luck!

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