Do you want to be an Italian? It might be possible if you have Italian ancestors.
Italy, thanks to the rule of jure salutis ("the right to blood"), is one of few countries that offers citizenship to people who can trace their ancestral roots back to Italy.
Of course, there are fine print. It must be an Italian ancestor, who did not naturalize to another nationality until the next descendant was born.
For example, if your grandfather was born and raised in Italy, but your father was born and raised in the United States, you may be eligible for Italian citizenship.
It's possible to be complicated if it sounds confusing.
This process is not easy. You will need to obtain and translate mountains of paperwork from both your country and from your ancestor in Italy. There are many caveats.
There is a private Facebook group called Dual US Italian Citizenship, with over 36,000 members. Lawyers are available to help navigate the complex legal system of jure sanguinis.
Sometimes, however, everything depends on the discovery of a missing document that is buried in an Italian village.
Francesco Curione, 007 Italian Records, is here to help make dolce Vita dreams come true one record at a.
Airbnb: A chance to meet
Curione, 34 years old, has assisted hundreds of clients, mainly from the United States to locate documents since 2016.
These documents can range from baptismal records that were buried in fire- and earthquake-ravaged churches to a birth cert for a baby who was abandoned for adoption, unbeknownst of his ancestors. How much? The cost is EUR110 (about $115), depending on how complex the search is.
His thriving business was born out of a chance meeting with a Floridian looking for her ancestors in Sicily.
Curione was a fresh graduate of law school in 2016, and couldn't find work due to Sicily’s high unemployment. Curione decided to make a living from tourism and opened the Collesano inland village as an Airbnb.
Curione describes the home, which is located 40 minutes from Cefalu, a charming three-bedroom house. "I liked how old-fashioned it looked. But I wasn't sure if any Americans would." Nearly 190 people have reviewed the property, which also boasts a 1950s-style kitchen and a washer/dryer on its terrace. It has a rating of 4.9 stars on Airbnb.
He was shocked when a visitor from St. Petersburg, Florida was the first one to book the house.
Andrea Fonti was on a trip to Collesano, Italy, in search of a birth certificate for her great-grandmother.
Fonti describes that Fonti used to hear her cry about wanting to return to Sicily when she moved to the USA. "After her death, I wanted to return to Sicily to honor my family. When I searched Airbnbs, the only one that was listed was the one that had just been added a few days before. "Well, this is the only option I have," I thought.
A lawyer who is out of work finds a new job
She booked the property and Curione contacted her to inquire about what was driving her to the small town not often on the tourist radar.
Fonti stated that she was searching for a birth record as well as information about a relative with whom the family lost touch in the 1960s.
Curione sent her a text message within a few days to let her know he had found her family. They were his neighbors next door.
Fonti's trip to Sicily was one of discovery. Curione helped Fonti find the house where her great-grandmother grew, introduced her to the priest to find birth records, and helped her locate military records, she stated.
Fonti, currently applying for Italian citizenship, says that Francesco would have prevented her from tracing my family back to the 1800s. He quickly makes friends with clerks and develops a rapport. It is amazing to see him at work.
She posted in the Facebook group about Curione's help to her when she returned from the US. This spread the word to friends and helped to drum up Curione’s first clients and encouraged him to start his own business.
Fonti said that there weren't many jobs in South Italy. Fonti says, "Between their personality and enthusiasm I was like you're sitting in a gold mine."
Each case is a puzzle that must be solved.
Today Curione has almost 6,000 Facebook followers. It details everything, from the adventures his customers take him on throughout Italy to photos of his Sicilian mother's home cooking.
Curione claims that his search for missing records is never dull in Italy.
Some cases are easy to solve, while others can lead to twisting and turning roads with happy or sad surprises.
He says that sometimes it can be difficult to find the right information. The information that is found can be very sad. There are also happy emotions and happy tears when we find many records.
One of his greatest achievements was finding a book with baptismal records from a relative. It was the only book that could be salvaged from a burned church (and it took every other baptism book over the course of a century).
He also discovered through his search in northern Italy for a baptismal record that his client's grandfather had been a "foundling-wheel" baby. This means that he was allegedly left behind by his mother and placed in a revolving doors called a Ruota Dei Proietti, which protected his mother's identity.
Anissa Pescio was a Napa Valley nurse. She had never met her grandfather Angelo Pescio. He died before she was even born. Angelo's birth date and parents were known to her. She had even visited his birth place in Stella, Italy to search for his birth record. But she'd had no luck.
Curione was hired by her to handle the case. He found the missing record within a week. The birth certificate was not under the same name that Curione had found it. It was the one her grandfather gave her when she found the baby in the findling wheel. There were many details that could be matched to the record of her grandfather.
According to detailed notes in the document he was named Angelo Celeste by his midwife because of his brilliant blue eyes.
Pescio says, "I was very emotional when Francesco informed me the news." She finally understood the source of her beautiful blue-gray eyes. They were the only ones in her family. She says, "I named her Angelina Celentina long before I knew the story of my grandfather."
Deena Cipolla and Cameron Cipolla Guptil, who are both from Arkansas, have been researching their Sicilian relatives for almost a decade. However, a vital piece of information about one of the patriarchs of the family remained undiscovered.
Deena spent hundreds of hours searching Italian record sites for her grandfather's birth records. She came up empty.
Curione was hired. They were disappointed to hear that the commune responded again with a "negativo," she said, informing them that they couldn't locate their relative.
Deena says that Francesco does more than just visit the commune to get an answer. "He digs, looks at other records, and, if needed, he calls on help from other priests.
Curione, she says, was able to get an "reluctant priest", to review the baptism records again. That's when the missing record finally was found.
Cameron just found out that her Italian citizenship application was approved.
"He sent me several voice mails that captured our mutual excitement as he described his search for the record."
Why not become an Italian?
Italian Marco Permunian, Italian Citizenship Assistance, says that his firm handles hundreds of cases every year for Americans looking to obtain Italian citizenship by jure sanguinis.
He says that citizens of any country with Italian ancestors can apply. However, it is possible to be denied depending on the country's laws and regulations.
Permunian states that the majority of applicants are from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Argentina.
It offers full-service and partial assistance for people who are applying for Italian citizenship. The company has offices in California and Italy. It also offers a free family tree evaluation to help potential clients determine if they are eligible for Italian citizenship.
Your quest may be impeded by factors other than missing documents. It is a case in 1948 if a woman from your ancestral line gives birth to another in line. This was before 1948 when women did not have the same rights to transfer citizenship. It would also require a court case in Italy. ICA handles these cases for clients.
Curione is a document retriever who helps many clients get citizenship documents. However, he does not deal with other aspects of citizenship.
Permunian states that ICA saw a significant spike in applications from clients "both sides" of the political spectrum since April 2020. This has continued throughout the pandemic.
He says that Italian citizenship is the easiest to obtain in the European Union if you are of Italian descent. It's easier than it is for France and Ireland. You can also live and work anywhere within the EU without requiring a visa.
Permunian adds that another perk is the Italian health care system, which is free and is considered one of the best in the country.
Peter Farina, a fourth-generation Italian-American, started Italian citizenship assistance firm ItalyMONDO! After obtaining his Italian citizenship, Farina founded ItalyMONDO! in 2006. For many of his clients, the benefits of citizenship are more than the obvious.
Farina says that many baby boomers were raised by Italian immigrants. They still remember Sunday dinners at Nonna’s and the multi-generational family home. "Life is very different today, and Italian citizenship allows you to be authentic and say "I'm Italian" and to honor your roots, while also giving the opportunity to pass on a legacy to future generations.
Sometimes, a living nonna can be the key to unlocking a piece missing from history
Curione is persistent in his search for that legacy for clients. Curione is persistent in his search for the right legacy. He will go to the place where Italians gather to talk, the piazza.
He says, "When you ask questions there, everyone begins to give you information." "They begin to answer, 'Yes! "Go into this bar or down that street.
The village's older women are especially like an "archive alive" because they have the town's memories.
He says that finding a lost record can be like solving a puzzle. "People will tell you that their ancestors came from Palermo. But it turns out that they were actually from the middle island."
Clients often weep when he takes them to their ancestral village.
He says, "They see their ancestors living there, playing there." "They see the church in which they were baptized."
Curione says, "I also admire American citizens who have not forgotten their land of roots, their veins still running with Italian blood that acts like a reminder of their ancestral history."
Curione's mother is his biggest admirer, despite all the people he has helped to connect with their past.
"My mom is very proud of me. "My mom is super proud of me.
He says, "Americans find really sweet and thoughtful ways to say thank you." It's better than receiving money. They not only found their family, but also a friend.