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Italian Passports: Why Pursue Italian Citizenship?

Why should an American pursue Italian citizenship?  That’s a question I am often asked.  In the beginning, I thought having an Italian passport would be very cosmopolitan.  Everyone has their own reasons but mine was ‘I could’ and I was sure the process would be a simple formality.

Since childhood, I was aware that my life would lead me to Italy.  I had no idea how, but I knew that I was as much of an Italian as I was an American.  Fascinated by all things Italian, whether it was fashion, film, food, festivals, or famous people, my mantra was  ‘if it’s Italian, I have to have it!’  I guess that makes me a true Italophile!

My family assumed I was crazy. They couldn’t imagine that I would even qualify for dual citizenship.  I was sure since my grandparents were born in Italy, I was in!  Although the process is much more complicated, I discovered that my basic assumption was true.  This started an eight year journey towards Italian citizenship.  Knowing what I know now, I can educate most qualifying Italian Americans on how to accomplish the same goal in one year.

One of our favorite parts of being Italian! One of our favorite parts of being Italian!

Traveling Italy became my passion

My husband and I took our first trip to Italy in 1991, and this only fueled my passion for Italy.  Returning to the United States, I had one objective: to return to Italy again…and again.

My first focus was on food and I decided to educate myself on the regional flavor of Italian cooking.  Always preparing recipes of my childhood, my home was constantly filled with the aromas and flavors of southern Italy.   Collecting recipes became my obsession and learning the subtleties of different regions made me an expert on the foods of Italy.  Olive oils and wines began to define the flavors of each regions.  Each trip to Italy broadened my understanding and knowledge on how and why Italian food is really ‘Italian regional cooking.’

Pellegrino Artusi, my new best friend

Pellegrino Artusi was another major influence on my quest for becoming an Italian citizen.

I had no idea who he was until my friend gave me the book, The Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.  That did it!  I wanted to make every recipe in the book.  Each trip to Italy became a treasure hunt for home cooked recipes.  I started cooking for the masses so in 1999 when I opened Pranzo, a catering company in Los Angeles.

My family was always in the food business and I was quite happy spending my days in the kitchen preparing traditional regional cooking while listening to opera and teaching my daughters what my grandmother, mother, and aunts had taught me.

The cookbook of Pelligrino Artusi! The cookbook of Pelligrino Artusi!

An Italian passport was another Italian possession I had to have.

During this time I came across an article that claimed if you were an American citizen and obtained dual citizenship, the Italian government would double your social security benefits.  According to the principle of jure sanguinis (“by the right of blood”), I had been an Italian citizen since my birth.  My husband became my biggest advocate and supported every effort.  Along the way, we discovered the statement was not completely accurate.  But by that time we were too far down the rabbit hole and there was no turning back.

To be continued…


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