Sunday, April 2, 2017

Chances look slim for Lucy to become an Italian citizen this time around

Thursday, March 30
Remember the slogan: ‟The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat?” We experienced both today, though it’s an exaggeration to say that our competition is as meaningful as the Olympic Games or the NCAA Final Four (go Bulldogs!). Still, our struggle to gain Lucy’s citizenship is the only game on our personal schedule right now, so we’re taking it seriously.

A poliziotta came yesterday to confirm that Lucy indeed lives in our house, and we assumed the policewoman would turn in her paperwork this morning. We already had Lucy’s official photos in hand, so we went off to the Municipio. Everything went smoothly, and within a half hour, Lucy had her much-treasured carta d’identità, confirming her residency. By early afternoon, we were off to Lucca to start step 3: cittadinanza—citizenship.

Not so fast, said the clerk at the Prefettura. Citizenship requires a year of residency, he maintained. His colleague agreed. Che cosa? ‟What?” I said. ‟That’s not what I was told last month. There must be a mistake. The man who was in this office last month said we needed a permesso di soggiorno and then residency. After that, we could apply for citizenship.”

‟That’s a problem for me,” he said, ‟because my understanding is you must be a resident for a year.”

‟Can I talk to someone else? I’m sure the man I spoke to previously said we could go ahead.”

The man gave me the name of colleague, Signora Bertelli, someone with more authority, and said we could go talk to her. We found her office, but the story didn’t change. She even quoted us the law from a thick book. The paragraph she cited said the residency requirement was actually only six months, but then she explained that this law had since been changed to two years, or one year if the person applying had children.

At this point, we had been told by three people that we would have to wait another year, but I was not ready to give up. By now, I’ve had enough experience dealing with Italian bureaucracy to know that ‟no” isn’t always a final answer.

I remember being in the Italian Consulate in San Francisco once when a man had come in wanting a visa on short notice. ‟Absolutely impossible,” the clerk said without hesitation. ‟You should have applied for this months ago.”

The man went on the explain the circumstances, including why he couldn’t have applied for it previously. He went right on as if she had just said, ‟The weather is cold, isn’t it?” instead of ‟Absolutely impossible.” Soon he was filling out his forms and paying for his visa.

So, am I Italian enough to do the same? Probably not. Still, I went back to the first office and let the two men know that even though Signora Bertelli had confirmed their opinion, I still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to know who else worked in their office. Who was the man who had told me we could do this? I recalled then that the mystery man had spoken on the phone to another colleague, and that colleague had told him that a letter had been written recently clarifying the law. I think it may have said that people who had been married prior to a certain year fell under a different set of regulations.

They gave me the name of another colleague, Dottor Pierotti, who sometimes works in their office. They tried to call him but learned that he was out of town and wouldn’t be back until the following Wednesday. And so, clinging to the slight chance that he can help us, we will take another trip to Lucca. We also take some hope in the fact that even though Signora Bertelli showed us the law book that she had read from, she admitted that the law had changed since the book had been printed. Could it not have changed again? We’ll soon find out . . .


  1. Lucy, provare per la cittadinanza svedese, potrebbe essere molto più facile con i capelli biondi! -Rob

  2. Nice idea, Rob. It looks like you'll be speaking fluent Italian when you come next fall.

    1. Yes - will be speaking fluently only with a strong internet connection and google translate up and running on my so called smart phone . . hehehe

  3. Does the law SPECIFY that the year has to be at one specific place? If not, Lucy has lived in Italy for more than a year. Does the law SPECIFY that the year has to be consecutive months? If no, you could reasonably argue that conditions have been met. Anonymous=Sorella

  4. The problem is that she only became an "official" resident that same day. Residing and being a legal resident are not the same thing. But thanks for the suggestion, Sorella.


Comments welcome.