Monday, November 15, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: San Nicola, Isole Tremiti

San Nicola
Isole Tremiti, Foggia, Italy

The past of the island of San Nicola is rich in history, but also shrouded in legend and mystery. In my previous post, Off the Beaten Trail: Tremiti Islands, the ancient Romans dubbed them Insulae Diomedeae. The legends do not end there, however. The island was later named San Nicola. San Nicola is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, laborers, scholars, students, and many others in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian religions. Legend has it that San Nicola was buried on the island, or at least his relics were. It continues to say that each time someone tried to remove the remains from the island, a ferocious storm brewed, preventing the voyage.

With all legends aside, San Nicola was first inhabited by the ancient Romans in the 2nd millennium BC, which was the transitional period between the Middle and Late Bronze Age. During Roman times, the island was used as a place for confinement for Emperor Augustus' niece, Giulia Minore, who lived there in exile on charges of adultery. She remained there for twenty years until her death. In the 11th century AD, the islands prospered under the leadership of abbot Albericus. By 1045, the abbey church of S. Maria di Tremiti was constructed. Around the early 1050s, Benedictine monks of Montecassino took over the abbey, which was later passed onto the Cistercian monks in 1237.

During the 11th and 12 centuries, S. Maria di Tremiti became one of the most important monasteries of its time in its location. It was recognized as an artistic and cultural center, and thereby contributed to the formation of Romanesque architecture. Not only was it known for contributing to the history of architectural design, but it was also seen as a means for trade. For over two hundred years, privateers and traders flocked to the port of San Nicola, allowing the monks to accumulate vast amounts of wealth. With the Cistercian monks in control, construction had once again begun with the building of a new cloister, the remodeling of the church of S. Maria, and elaborate fortification walls. Along with the fortifications, a man-made rift was made in the rock between the fortified walls and the remaining unused land of the island. This was done to provide further protection should there be an attack.

By the 14th century, the island was sustaining relentless attacks by Slavic pirates. In 1334, a group of privateers tricked and slaughtered the monks. Defeated, those who survived the attack resorted to abandoning the island. San Nicola remained deserted until Pope Gregory XII ordered a revitalization of the island in 1412. This revitalization led to an extensive rebuilding of the fortified walls. With the new ability to defend itself, little San Nicola was able to ward off attacks by Turkish fleets in the 15th and 16th century. Its history continued with more struggles in regards to political power, causing San Nicola to be under the rule of King Charles II of Napes. Finally, in 1782, all monastic life ceased on the island.

San Nicola's struggle to remain important in the eyes of more current political leaders did not rest. During WWII, the fortifications were used to imprison political prisoners. It is also said, though denied by  Mussolini, that homosexuals were sent there to isolate them from the rest of Italy. In modern-day Italy, the island possesses the bulk of the tiny community's population. It is also the administrative center of the Tremiti Islands. Tourists can be seen roaming the grounds of what must have been a beautiful tiny town, full of riches, so long ago.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: Isole Tremiti, Puglia

View of San Nicola, abbey and castle
The Isole Tremiti, or Tremiti Islands in English, have a past rich in history. During ancient Roman times, they were known as Insulae Diomedeae. According to legend, Diomedes, a Greek hero and Trojan War veteran, landed on the islands and was buried there. The name was later changed to Trimitensis Insulae, derived directly from how they were formed - through tremolanti, tremors, from seismic activity. With the change from Latin to Italian as the official language, they are now known as Le Isole Tremiti.

The islands are an archipelago located of southern Italy's Eastern coast in the Adriatic Sea. In the Middle Ages, they were conveniently located, serving as a link for Northern, Central and Southern Italy coastal lanes. This enabled Italy to easily conduct trading business with Istria, Dalmatia, Greece, and other Eastern Mediterranean countries. Influences on trading, warfare, architecture, culture, and politics continually changed based on who ruled Southern Italy - the Byzantines, the Lombards, the Holy Roman Empire, the Normans, Saracens, and even the Greeks.

San Nicola's port
Today the Tremiti Islands fall under the region of Puglia, and are considered to be in the province of Foggia. To reach the islands, one must take a traghetto, ferry, from Manfredonia, Pescara, Peschici, Rodi Garganico, Tremoli, Vasto, or Vieste.

Have you been to the Isole Tremiti?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: Puglia Kickoff

 Today's post is the kickoff of a month's worth of Off the Beaten Trail articles about Puglia. To get an overall view of what to expect, view the video below.

Puglia is... everything.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Tartufi a Manhattan

Lo so, lo so. Procrastino. Ho detto nel passato che volevo scrivere una parte del blog in italiano, e non l'ho fatto... Pero' vi scrivo di un tema molto interessante che ho visto al telegiornale questa settimana.


Vice president of Urbani Truffles, Vittorio Giordano
Photo from

 Avete sentito del nuovo negozio a Manhattan? Il negozio, Urbani Truffles, vende i tartufi preziosi. Pero' la notizia sul telegiornale non e' stata positiva, nemmeno un po'. Il negozio si e' aperto a Upper West Side, ed e' situato vicino a un edificio degli appartamenti. Le persone che abitano li' compiagnono della "puzza" che origine da Urbani Truffles. In piu', un agente immobiliare ha detto che sara' troppo difficile di vendere un appartamento se l'edificio odora. La confutazione vice presidente di Urbani Truffles - i New Yorkers manca la sofisticazione. Questo e' la prima volta che ha mai avuto un problema cosi'. Urbani Truffles possiede altri negozi pure a Roma, Milano, Parigi, e Sao Paolo.


Have you heard of the new store in Manhattan? The store, Urbani Truffles, sells precious truffles. However, the news on TV wasn't positive, not even a little. The store opened on the Upper West Side, and is located near an apartment building. The residents that live there are complaining of a "stench" that originates from Urbani Truffles. What's more, a real estate agent said it will be too difficult to sell an apartment if the building smells. The rebuttal of the vice president of Urbani Truffles - New Yorkers lack sophistication. This is the first time ever having such a problem. Urbani Truffles also has other stores in Rome, Milan, Paris, and Sao Paolo.

To read the entire article, click here.
Di leggere l'articolo, clicca qua.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Citizenship Saturday: Women Earn Equal Rights

As previously discussed in past posts, women did not always have the ability to pass down citizenship to their children. However, after the conclusion of World War II and the end of the Italian kingdom, and the rise of the Italian Republic, amendments were made to the Italian costituzione (constitution). Starting on January 1, 1948, women and men were given equal rights. Whether the citizenship is passed down depends not on when the mother was born, but upon when the child was born. This is important to understand as when my ex asked someone about it at the Immigrations office in Italy, the woman there gave him incorrect information.

In the Circolare 9 del 04.07.2001 you can find the exact phrase in which it states such:

1. Sono cittadini italiani per nascita e dalla nascita i figli nati a decorrere dal 1 gennaio 1948 da madre in possesso della cittadinanza italiana al momento della loro nascita.

In seguito alla sentenza della Corte Costituzionale n. 30 del 1983, che ha dichiarato incostituzionale l’art. 1 della legge 555/1912 nella parte in cui non prevedeva l’acquisto della cittadinanza italiana jure sanguinis anche per discendenza materna, l’attribuzione della cittadinanza ai figli di madre italiana, nati dal 1° gennaio 1948 avviene secondo quanto disposto per i figli di padre italiano.


All children born from January 1, 1948 to a mother who was in possession of Italian citizenship at the moment of the child's birth are themselves Italian citizens by birth.

As a result of Ruling No. 30 of 1983 of the Constitutional Court, which declared unconstitutional Article 1 of law 555/1912 (the Italian Citizenship Law) insofar as it prevented the acquisition of Italian citizenship jure sanguinis by maternal decent, the granting of citizenship to the child of an Italian mother, which child was born from January 1, 1948, occurs according to the same rules as for children born to an Italian father.

What does this mean for those who wish to apply through a female relative?

Let's look at my case for example. I am applying through my great-great grandfather, who never naturalized, or formally denounced his Italian citizenship. He was born in Italy in 1868. Around 1893 (not sure of the exact year), he emigrated from Italy with his wife, parents, and wife's brother. My great grandfather was born here in the United States in 1894. He and my great grandmother later had my grandmother, who was born in 1927. My grandmother had my father in 1954, well after the 1948 revision was imposed, thereby allowing her to pass the citizenship down to my father.

Applying through my great-great grandmother would not at all be possible, as my great grandfather was born in 1894. If my father had been born before January 1, 1948, the ability to recognize Italian citizenship would not have been possible.

As they say, everything happens for a reason!

If you have any questions concerning this post,
feel free to ask me in the comments section
or e-mail me at:

I will try my best to answer any and all questions.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Feature Friday: Interview with KC of ‘The Shock of Old’

Being an avid reader of the blog, 'The Shock of Old', I found it to be a great idea to hold an interview with its writer, KC. She is an American art historian, who discusses anything from Italian bureaucracy, to ancient artifacts found throughout the small town in which she lives, to days spent with her husband N and her beautiful daughter, Pata.

1. For those readers who have not yet read your blog, please tell why you chose to move to Italy?

I moved here to marry my husband, who is Italian. (We had met a few years before in Rome while I was on a research trip there.)

2. Since PassagetoItaly is about making the transition to Italy, how did you make the move from the United States to Italy, and when did you move?

I moved here a little over four years ago. Italy doesn't have a fiancée visa, so I came as a tourist and we married within the ninety days allowed to visitors from visa-waver countries.

3. Do you have tips/suggestions for those who are exploring the idea of making the move?

I moved because of a particular set of circumstances that made coming here relatively easy for me. I didn't have to worry about qualifying for a visa or obtaining citizenship from Italy or another EU country, so I can't really comment on the process of moving as it applies to most people who want to come to Italy. In general, I think it helps to be at least proficient in Italian before moving because it will make dealing with the bureaucracy involved in getting established here much easier.

4. What were the most difficult parts of the move?

For me, it was the finality of it: driving around the city where I lived the last days before I moved and knowing that I would probably never see it again, and knowing that in moving I was ending my career and would never work in my field again. I have a hard time with closure. I like to think that anything is possible. Moving here was really the first time in my adult life that I had to confront the reality that there are choices that we make that irrevocably close off opportunities to do other things.

5. Without being biased to the town in which you live, which town/city is your favorite in Italy?

Well, there's no chance of my being biased towards Sessa Aurunca (where I live) because I don't like it very much at all. Rome is my favorite city. As a graduate student, I spent a few months there that were very important to my intellectual development, and I look back on that time very fondly.

6. Rome was my favorite as well with its combining of the old and new. If you could make a recommendation to visit an off-the-beaten trail location in Italy, where would it be?

I'm not sure how off-the-beaten track it is, but Mantova is one of my favorite cities, and I don't think it's very much visited by tourists. There are a couple of fine churches by Leon Battista Alberti there. (Sant' Andrea is breathtaking.) The Palazzo Ducale has Mantegna's frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi and in the Palazzo del Te, which is interesting enough architecturally, there is Giulio Romano's Sala dei Giganti. There is also Andrea's Mantegna's house, with a circular courtyard.

I also like Modena, which has one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Italy. Brescia is another of my favorites.

7. What are some of the traditional dishes of your adopted town?

To be honest, I don't really know. They do have a strange 'pastiera' made with rice here, which I cannot recommend. (I put pastiera in quotes there out of respect to any Neapolitans offended by the idea that you can make one with rice!)

8. What are some of the traditional celebrations specific to your town?

We have an extensive celebration of Holy Week, involving several processions and the display of a statue of St. Leo and the town's venerated image of the Madonna. There's also a procession honoring the Madonna del Carmine in July. There are 'giochi di quartiere,' in September, I believe, with archers and flag throwers in costume. I think there may be a few other events, but I find that these things have a way of fading into daily life when you live here for a while.

Thank you KC for sharing us! And to the few who follow my blog, don't forget to check out 'The Shock of Old'.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Love Thursday: Joke alla Milanese

While browsing my former Italian teacher's profile on Facebook, I came across this joke that I've dubbed 'joke alla milanese'. It is in milanese dialect, which has been translated into Italian, and I have thus translated it into English, for those who may not have completely understood it.

Milanese: Quando torna a casa, per prima cosa va al bar a trovare i suoi compagni di "bianchino" e quelli, si rivolgono al lui dicendo:"Ue, Giuan, alura? Me l'è 'ndada in Inghiltera? L'è bela?" Lui, piuttosto mesto risponde:"E, varda, per ess bela l'è propri bela!" "Ma l'è mpu' strana:I pulman, quei alt, ia ciamen bas, i stradun quei laarch ia ciamen strit,i cavai i ciamen ors, el frech el ciamen cold, i don ia ciamen uomen...Poi, giri l'angul, vedi na biunduna e la ma fa "LAV MI"."E ti ste fe'?" E e mi gu fa: "MA LAVES IN DE PER TI, VUNCIUNA D'UN' INGLESA!"

Italiano: "Ehi Giovanni,allora? Come è andata in Inghilterra? E' bella?" Lui risponde"Guarda,per essere bella è proprio bella! Ma è un po strana: i pulman,quelli alti, li chiamano bas(bus),le strade,quelle larghe le strit(street), i cavalli li chiamano ors(horse),il freddo lo chiamano cold, le donne le chiamano uomen(woman)...poi giro l'angolo e vedo una biondona che mi fa:"lav mi!(love me)""e cosa hai fatto?""gli faccio:"ma lavati per te, zozzona di un'inglesa!"

English: (You must realize this is all said with an accent in order to get the joke, which explains Giovanni's confusion.)

"Hey Giovanni, so? How was it in England? Is it beautiful? He responds, "look, to say it's beautiful, it's really beautiful! But it's a little strange: the buses, those really high ones, they call them 'bas' (bus), the streets, those large ones, they call them 'strit' (street), the horses, they call them ors (horse), the cold they call it 'cold', the women are called uomen (woman).. then you go around a corner, see a big blonde that says to me "lav mi (love me)." "And what did you do??" He responds, "Wash yourself, you dirty English woman!"

Glossary -
Milanese -- Italian -- English

bas = basso = low, short
strit = stretto = tight, narrow
ors = orso = bear
uomen = uomini = men
lav mi = lavami = wash me

Did anyone get it without reading the English translation?
I just LOVE a good joke.

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chasing Down Consulate Officers

Walking into the pizzeria, happily being able to wear my suede boots that I bought in Italy last summer, donned with my Max Mara sunglasses (yes, a friend of mine and I splurged in Firenze in '07), I spotted her. She's my acquaintance hailing from the island of Sardegna. We'll call her A* for anonymity purposes. When I told my former Italian teacher where my acquaintance is from, she was rather surprised. My guess is that it's not common for sardi to leave their native land?

Upon seeing me, her face lit up, and she quickly came from behind the counter. She and her husband (named G* in my post) have been running the pizzeria for quite some time. Their story is very interesting. She is sarda, and he is Italian-American. Her entire family lives in Sardegna, and he has four brothers who currently live in Italy. While he was on a trip to Italy, they met, fell in love and were married. Before they married, they were in a long distance relationship though. At the time, it was quite difficult for them to be in touch. Her family home had no telephone, and she had to use a public phone down the street. A* said they spoke at least once a month, as calls were expensive at that time. No folks, Skype did not exist. What makes their story even more interesting came after their children were born and grown up. When her daughter went on vacation to Italy, she met her husband as well, in Puglia.

A* currently holds dual citizenship, and come February, she and G* will be applying for dual citizenship through marriage for him. We discussed affidavits (a process used to amend a record), the difficulties of making appointments with the consulate, and the drama that encircles the Italian bureaucratic system. When it came down to contacting them, she said the only thing you could do was send a barrage of e-mails. From both of our experiences, e-mailing was the best line of communication, as they now definitely do not answer phone calls. As of August, the consulate removed all extension numbers to each department. It was just too bad that I had misplaced the extension number I had before they took them down.

As requirements are different between here and Italy, I wanted to see if she knew or knew of anyone who knew about the process. I have yet to be haunted by nightmares of an "incomplete application" or some such thing, but it is certainly one of my greatest fears. What about the affidavits? Nope, she did not know anything about that either. G* did face a problem as his last name is spelled incorrectly. His brothers' last name is different from his in this way. She would not know until they had their appointment in February.

My only option was to e-mail the consulate (again) to see if I could have an appointment with someone just to go over the papers. Grrr! On numerous occasions, I had sent countless e-mails asking the same thing before I was to leave for Italy, and of course, received no reply. Perhaps the barrage effect will come handy this time. We'll see what the consulate says..... if they reply.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Italy v. America: The Difference in Taste of Wine

Ever since my first trip to Italy, wine has slowly become one of my passions. No, Italy did not make me an alcoholic. Learning about the different wines from each region is very interesting to me. They define the regions just as the regional cuisine does. With that aside though, I have noticed a considerable difference in the taste of Italian wine imported here, as opposed to what it tastes like there. To my surprise, several individuals conducted an experiment of the effects of shipping conditions on wines. Eleven trained panelists then taste tested the end results. Post below is the actual article from the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture:

Effect of Simulated Shipping Conditions on Sensory Attributes and Volatile Composition of Commercial White and Red Wines

Anthony L. Robinson1, Martha Mueller2, Hildegarde Heymann2,*, Susan E. Ebeler2, Paul K. Boss3, Peter S. Solomon4 and Robert D. Trengove1 1 Separation Science Laboratory, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia; 2 Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616; 3 CSIRO Plant Industry & Food Futures Flagship, PO Box 350, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia; and 4 Plant Cell Biology, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
Acknowledgments: This research project was conducted while A.L. Robinson was an Australian-American Fulbright Scholar and was a collaboration between the University of California, Davis and Murdoch University, Australia.
M. Mueller acknowledges the following: Harry Baccigaluppi Scholarship, Louis R. Gomberg, Adolf L. and Richie C. Heck Research Fellowship, Horace O. Lanza Scholarship, and the Brad Webb Memorial Scholarship. This research was partially funded by Australia’s grapegrowers and winemakers through their investment body the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation with matching funding from the Australian Federal Government.
* Corresponding author (email:; tel: 530 754 4816 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              530 754 4816      end_of_the_skype_highlighting; fax: 530 752 0382)

A major concern when shipping wine is whether the condition in which it is received at its destination is the same as when it left the winery. This study explored the effects of shipping conditions on six varietal wines. Four white wines and four red wines were exposed to four different storage conditions to create 32 treatments. Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon blanc, and Chardonnay wines were from one producer and of the same vintage. One Merlot and three Cabernet Sauvignon wines were from different labels by the same producer. Storage conditions included 20°C, 40°C, 20/40°C (reflecting diurnal cycle in temperatures), and a sample that traveled in the trunk of a car for three weeks. The 32 wines were evaluated using sensory descriptive analysis. Trained panelists, 11 for white wine and 13 for red wine, rated the wines on 14 and 23 attributes, respectively. Volatiles were analyzed using a HS-SPME-GC-MS analysis. Both sensory and analytical results showed significant differences among the wines stored at the higher temperatures. Differences were noted for a number of compounds, including higher concentrations of vitispirane 1 and 2, TDN, and p-cymene and reductions in several esters and acetates, which are characteristic of aged wines. This is the first study that has assessed sensory changes in wines under conditions that would potentially be experienced by wine in transit.

Key words:
wine aroma, sensory descriptive analysis, HS-SPME, GC-MS, storage temperature, PLS

In conclusion, Italian wines DO taste better in Italy as opposed to here, in my opinion. To me, some wines have tasted watered down, and even more acidic than normal. The same Chianti wine the I drank in Italy was full and tasty, but here it was very watery, and the glass could not even be finished. Well, the experiment explains why. This is not to say that this has always happened, but on several occasions, it was noticeable.

Have you noticed a difference in taste of your wine?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: Puglia

Puglia is known as the heel of the Italian stivale, boot, bordered by Campania, Basilicata, and Molise. It is perhaps one of the richest parts of Italy in terms of archaeological sites. In 1999, just outside of the town of Altamura, in the De Lucia Quarry, discoveries of Europe's, and perhaps the world's, largest finding of dinosaur footprints were uncovered. The footprints were exposed by rainfall, uncovering a 12,000 square meter area comprised of at least 4,000 footprints. After examining the finds, scientists revealed that there were 200 dinosaurs responsible for the prints, and were of 5 different species. They were so perfectly preserved that the folds in the animals' skin can be seen! They were dated back to about 70 million years ago.

In 1993, a complete skeleton of a man dating back 130,000 years ago was found in the Lamalunga cave. At some point, the man had been trapped inside the cave, and met his demise. Also found in the are were different species of animals and fauna.

Fast forwarding to the 1st millenium BC, the region was settled by the Illyric and Italic peoples. For thousands of years, there was a constant struggle over the lands of Southern Italy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Down South: The Woes of Public Transportation

On our way south to the town of Agropoli, our small group had already faced the inconveniences of Italian public transportation... but it would not be the last time. The gods of transportation were having too much fun and games to let up just yet.

We were scheduled to leave in the early evening, and so we did. When we arrived at the next station to transfer, however, no connecting train arrived. I do not remember the exact reason, but it possibly had something to do with it being Sunday. Our teachers had warned us about the possible problems with travel on the weekends before everyone set out on their adventures. After crossing the tracks (yes, this may seem a shock, but there was no under passage) we further discovered the station's office was not open. Great! Thankfully one of my friends had a usable phone to call the uncles, as my 'credito' (the credit on the Sims card) was spent. We backtracked our way to Agropoli. Our friend's uncles were able to find out information for the next train departure, and at around midnight, we were Pesaro bound.

Us stuck at the station

On the overnight train, we did not have to worry about any connecting trains. We settled in for the long ride and fell fast asleep after a long day in the heat. Our adventures would not end there though. There was no air conditioning on the train, but with the window open, there was a nice cool breeze. Having the window open was not ideal with the loud clacking of the wheels on the track. Sleepily, I closed the window, which cut out some of the noise. It soon grew hot and stuffy in our compartment. The train had little rooms with doors and seats that folded out for sleeping. We were crammed in like sausages in a plastic package.

At one point during our trip, my friend left the cabin to go into the next one in order to get fresh air. The cooler air was refreshing. Upon returning to our cabin, she was approached by a man. I am pretty certain we were the only passengers in that car due to the fact that it was an overnight train. He asked her if he could join us in our compartment, peering in the window as we slept. "No," she said, "there's clearly no room, and my friends are sleeping." He thankfully walked away. It was bizarre knowing that a lone stranger would have asked such a thing. It's scary even thinking about her being alone in the corridor, and we knew nothing about it. Anything could have happened.

Our train into Pesaro did not arrive until 5 or 6 AM. Class was at 8AM every morning of the week, except on weekends, which were of course free time. We had already called and spoken to one of our teachers that we would be late and/or possibly miss class. From Pesaro to Urbino, it was still another hour or so by bus, in addition to being driven to class. With luck, after briefly stopping at our dorms, we made it back in time for class. During that class, I had to do a presentation. Everyone had already presented, and I arrived just in time to do mine. What luck! Shortly after, class ended.

Had similar experiences with Italian public transportation?
Leave your story in the comment section or e-mail it to
and be featured on my blog.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Feature Friday: The Professional Student

A former classmate of mine at Rutgers University has opened up her own blog. We met in an Italian conversation class the semester before I left for Urbino. Her writings have nothing to do with anything Italian, but she raises really pressing issues, such as sexuality and the ignorance towards an individual's religion. Her post titled Ignorance is Bliss... and Ignorance is based on the current issue encircling the debate of the Muslim mosque being built near Ground Zero.

Although her (so far) two posts are very interesting, they do not express my own views. So head on over and check out her blog, The Professional Student. Future postings include a book review; the recent headlines of Rutgers student, Tyler Clementi; and the University of Michigan's Chris Armstong.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Love Thursday: L'espresso

Dear Espresso,

Thank you for always standing by me and giving me my well needed kick in the rear whenever I feel tired. Without you, functioning in this world would not be possible. If it was possible, I would probably inject you directly into my veins.

Your faithful drinker,


PS On second thought, I probably would not inject myself. I am a wimp and could not bare the thought of sticking a needle in my body.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's Cooking Wednesday: Chipotle-Cherry BBQ Sauce

A couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday, it was one of the few days during which one could spend the entire day outdoors. The day began with me being woken up by my mom, albeit it was late. It was not until the early morning that I finally had been able to sleep soundly after hacking my brains out during the night. I had been suffering from a cold/allergies for two days.

We decided to spend part of our day at the beach. It seemed like a good idea - fresh air and lots of sunshine, instead of staying cooped up inside with the diseased air in my room. After stopping for to-go coffee, we brought out our love-seat styled beach chair and basked in the warm sun, breathing in the salt water. Since it was low tide, seashells were fair game! Look at the treasure we found:

Did you notice the tiny shells on and within the large shell in the first picture? What's so special about these shells? Well, usually these are not found here on the shores of New Jersey. These are usually found in warmer water. My guess is that with Hurricane Earl that just passed by,  it dropped them off here to be discovered.

Fast-forwarding through the day, we come to dinner time. My mom and I decided to experiment by making an awesome barbecue sauce, chipotle-cherry sauce on baby back ribs. We found the recipe in the magazine, bon appetit.  The recipe has some sweetness but the chipotle chiles give it a twist and a kick.

Chipotle-Cherry Barbeque Sauce

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cherry preserves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I put in 1/4 of a cup)
2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
2 tablespoons golden brown sugar (we used dark brown since it was all we had)
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce (we did not use this since many soy sauces have wheat, which I can't eat)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel (since we used more lemon juice we didn't use the peel)
1-2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced, plus 1 tbsp adobo sauce from can
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa power


Bring ketchup, cherry preserves, lemon juice, molasses, brown sugar, Worchestershire sauce, (soy sauce), (lemon peel), chiles, adobo sauce, liquid smoke, onion powder, and cocoa powder to simmer in medium saucepan, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper..

The sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead. Cover tightly and refigerate.

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Italy v. America: Etiquette within the Restaurant

Italy v. America

Etiquette within the Restaurant

I have yet to experience what I am about to discuss in Italy, so forgive me if this discussion seems at all one-sided. Perhaps some of my readers can contribute with their own horror stories?

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, are enjoying your meal with family and/or friends, only to be interrupted by the roar of a vacuum or broom being frantically swept right next to you?

A few weeks ago, while my mom and I were having dinner spending quality time together, this is just what happened. We were escorted to our table, ordered our drinks, and were then interrupted by a vacuum directly next to our table. After eying the waiter several times, he finally got the hint of the annoyance he was creating. However, what he and a fellow waitress began to do right after, was just as bad, if not worse. The waiter crawled underneath the table at the booth across the aisle, and began frantically sweeping debris from under the table, causing it to fly into the middle of the aisle. Behind us, the waitress was doing exactly the same. Appalled by what they were doing, and upon the delivery of our food, we asked our waitress kindly if they could stop cleaning while we ate. Annoyed by our request, the waiter stomped away.

The poor service continued with our waitress passing by literally every five minutes, obnoxiously asking if everything was alright. Halfway through our dinner, we were approached by the manager. Contrary to what we thought was about to happen (scolding), he apologized for the waiter, and offered a complimentary dessert. Apparently, someone had complained about not being able to finish his duties.

Although it is perfectly understandable that everyone has tasks that need to be completed before they leave or other customers arrive, I cannot fathom how poorly the current customers are treated. Cleaning in such a manner is really unsanitary. It is always about rushing the customers to finish eating so that more can sit at the table next. This is not the first time this has happened. It has happened on numerous occasions at numerous locations. Why is it so hard to adopt a relaxing ambiance so as to enjoy the meal? Won't that ensure the return of customers if they are worried about profit?

In Italy, it is quite the opposite. Waiters do not come to your table unless called upon. They see it as being rude if the diner is interrupted from his/her meal. Furthermore, I have never seen cleaning being done while people eat. This is not to say everything is better in Italy. On the contrary, they make up for it with the infamous Posta Italiana and transit strikes. But is it really hard to ask for common courtesy here?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Consulate Appointment

Thank you for everyone who offered their kind words after hearing about my plans being canceled. It was truly devastating for me, as a lot of time and preparation had been put into making the eventual move. As they say, "everything happens for a reason."

Anyway, as I am not one to easily give up once I have my mind set on something, I am continuing my citizenship process state-side. After giving myself a couple of days to recuperate, a new mission has already begun - making an appointment with the Italian consulate. Before I was scheduled to leave, I had been trying for weeks to get in touch with someone, anyone, at the consulate. It should have been obvious that speaking to someone in the weeks before ferragosto, the time in August in which Italians have summer vacation, that this was an impossible feat. E-mailing them resulted in responses such as,

"Signora, siamo sommersi in richieste,"

Ma'am we are inundated with requests,

and was then directed to a phone number. In case you did not know, the consulate has taken down all department extension numbers, so now you must call the general switchboard, which no one answers. You must then leave a message, but they will not get back to you for a week or so. Fortunately after ferragosto, they have been a bit more responsive. Plus, a fellow applicant gave me the name of someone I could direct an e-mail to. In addition to that, I've also found that the consulate will answer your e-mail much quicker if you write in Italian.

After calling several times, and sending e-mails, I finally got a response. They asked for my information and said they would get back to me with a date. A couple of days after that e-mail, I received a phone call about the message I had left. The woman had asked about the message I left, which had been a week or so prior, and I said it was in regards to making an appointment. She said, "I sent you the appointment information to your e-mail this morning." Since I was out and about with my mom searching for closet organizing systems (a project I've taken up), I had not checked my e-mail.

So the conclusion of this long, winded story is that I have an appointment for August 2011! Since Italy had not required death certificates, I did not worry about gathering them, also because they were a hassle. However, since the Newark consulate requires them ( why?! why?! why?!), I will now have to go through court orders. Thank you, thank you again to my ex, who has not only caused me to throw money out the window for my plane ticket, but now I must spend even more money to get all this done. Grrr!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bad News.....

As most of my faithful readers know, which are about like 5 people, I have been in the works of preparing for my move to Italy. Sadly, however, that will not be happening. My flight was to leave next Wednesday, and arrive in Bologna, Italy on Thursday. My ex decided rather suddenly that it was best that I not come. So with my bags half packed and my ticket already purchased a month ago, you can imagine just how upset and mad I am.

In spite of the negativity ensuing from this unfortunate event, there is something positive about it. It is better that the heartless pig told me now before I left, rather than arrive and then be told. I would have been stuck in hell for three months, which was when my round trip was scheduled for, just in case something happened with my papers... or in something like this.

Even though I no longer have the opportunity to apply in Italy for citizenship, I will however be applying in the US at the Newark consulate. Let's hope the experience with them is not as traumatic. haha

I promise tomorrow's post will be less depressing than this one.....

Friday, September 3, 2010

Down South, Part III

Click here and here for parts I and II, if you are just joining my travels.

The next day we prepared for the Festa di San Nazario. San Nazario is the patron saint of the small town of Perdifumo. The day began with us arriving in town from our hostel. My friend's family and our little group made our way down to the town's church early in the morning. The church had recently been renovated, we were told, and it was amazing to see the inside of the church. The church was too small to fit the entire town inside, however, so we were only able to stand at the entrance to the church, which was filled with people. More people had filled in behind us. At 9am, the sun was already beating down strongly upon our heads, but to our relief, there was a slight breeze as we stood there in the entrance.

The mass, of course, was held in Italian. At the time, my Italian was not as good as it is now. In fact, it was nowhere near as good, and I would love to sit in on a mass now just to see how much I would be able to understand. The mass followed the order to which I am accustomed to here at home. The only difference however with churches in Italy is that usually you must have your shoulders covered, and your legs relatively covered. There are some churches that will not even allow you to enter unless you have the appropriate attire.

Upon the end of the mass, we made way for the procession to begin. San Nazario was hoisted up onto the shoulders of the town's men, and carried out of the church. Priests in candy apple red, yellow and white garments exited before the statue. Large, heavy red banners lightly fluttered in the now nearly non-existent breeze. The band waited on the side, socializing with friends, until everyone was prepared for the ascend up the first hill from the church. It was a mixture of the informal and the formal; tradition and the modernity of the townspeople.

Since this was our very first festa (well at least for me), we all happily followed the procession making our way slowly up the hill. We soon gave up as the walk would be long, and it was just too hot. Along the road, there is a passageway that is the entrance to the town. Here many of the townspeople gather as this is also the local watering hole. Further up in the mountain is a fresh spring, and the water is clean enough to drink right out of the faucet. We were then taken to my friend's family's home where the feast began. Pasta, eggplant, tomatoes, cakes - all sorts of foods that were, "grown on their land", they
explained happily. I had the pleasure of sitting next to my friend's eldest uncle, who only spoke dialect. Many attempts were made by him to speak to me, but I could not understand him sadly. He excitedly thought through his memories about the time he had visited the United States. He never learned English, but remembered learning the word, whorehouse.

Our meal came to an immediate halt when a baby bat flew through the open windows. However, it was day time! It flew around, scared to death probably, until it hung itself upside down under the table. One of my friend's uncles picked it up and threw it back out the window. The eldest of the uncles explained that it had probably fallen out of a tree while sleeping, and was merely startled. It seemed like a reasonable explanation, but it was sure odd that a little bat was flying around during the day. (No, it was not foaming at the mouth, and no, no one was bitten.)

After having our fill and bidding everyone farewell, we piled into two cars, and two of the uncles (he has a very big family and many uncles!), drove us to a nearby castello with amazing views of the sea.

To be continued....

Caked in Fango

Flipping through the pages of the latest Vogue edition, I came across an interesting advertisement for Borghese fango (mud) products. They must be the Italian version of AHAVA.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feature Friday: Tips for Learning Italian

Yes indeed! Italian can be quite a struggle and tiresome to the brain when first learning this beautiful language. When I first began learning Italian, I was confusing it quite a bit with French, seeing as French was my first foreign language pursued.  After eight years of learning French, the different tenses were still mind-boggling. In my honest opinion, from my experience, if you are not taught it correctly or have not had it explained well to you the first time, you will be utterly lost.

My first French teacher (who was not even French) was a complete idiot, and never really bothered to explain anything. If a student is struggling with understanding the material, I feel it is the teacher's obligation to spend extra time on certain areas of question, either with everyone in class, or on a one-on-one basis. Apparently this was not how my first French teacher operated. Upon entering high school, with my mother's request, I repeated the first level. It all began to eventually sink in, as my teacher's were much more proficient at explaining things.

It was not until I got to the university, from which I gained my BA, did I begin to work backwards again. My first professor for French was horrible and rude. He loved to belittle all of his students for their mistakes. Being a shy person, and for fear of making mistake, I rarely ever spoke. I continued taking French the following semester, and began yet again to grasp the grammar of French, as I had an intensive grammar class. That was my last French class I took, and began learning Italian.

Let me just say that I absolutely loved my Italian classes. There was no one to belittle me, and all the teachers encouraged students to speak, even if they made mistakes. Just to know you were trying was good enough for them. From having learned French, I quickly picked up Italian, but it was not until I began taking conversation courses that my Italian skyrocketed. Though I did have to work very hard to achieve the level that I am at now. Even in the conversation classes, we were required to do readings and debate about the different topics that arose. With the readings we had to do, our teacher would say, "read the readings without a dictionary. Try to at least understand the basic concept behind the article/story."

Well this did not work for me. Instead, I read the entire article, stopping at each word I did not know.... which was usually every other word. With my dictionary in hand, a highlighter and pen, I highlighted the word I did not know, and wrote the translation above it. It was quite helpful when the word was used more than once! Other times I wrote the translations in the margins. You can imagine how colorful my copies were! After reading through it once, and not having absorbed anything because of how long it took me to get through what I was reading, I re-read it with the translations.

It was during my first conversation class that I decided to make the leap to study in Italy when everyone in class jumped at the opportunity. And I have not looked back since.

So what have I learned about learning a new language from all this? Here are some tips:

1. Make sure you have a teacher who actually likes to teach the language. If possible, change your class for a new teacher. Learning a new language should be fun, not the cause of your nervous breakdown.

2. Do not be afraid to speak. It is important that you practice. Find a classmate who enjoys learning the language, and is not just taking the class for an 'easy A' (so they think). In fact, surround yourself with those who are equally passionate, and practice with them.

3. Study abroad! I cannot stress how important this part is... if you have the opportunity of course. Immersion does indeed help, though if you have a basic knowledge of the language. If you go to an area with non-English speakers, it will force you to use the language and not revert to your native tongue. If a study abroad option is not available to you, find a conversation group, such as the Dorothea House in Princeton, New Jersey.

4. Listen to music. This is probably the most simple way to pick up new words and begin to hear the distinction between each word, and not just hearing sounds. The sounds become words the more you listen to them. (If you understand what I mean.)

5. Read. Even if you have to sit there with a dictionary in your hand, reading is a great way to learn. It helps you learn the sentence structures of the language and of course teaches you new vocab. If it is too tedious, read a little bit at a time. Set a goal for yourself, like say, 5 pages in one sitting, depending on the complexity of the material.

What was/is your experience like learning Italian? Share with us your story!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Final Days

There are only three more weeks left until my departure. My room is a complete disaster, and looks much like a hurricane has passed through. Clothes are piled all throughout the room, while small collections of bags of things to be thrown out are in my room... Must remove those bags as it would probably create more room for me to work in.

How exactly does one decide what to bring with them when they are making a move that is possibly forever? I know I will be back as frequent as possible, and will be able to bring more things with me with each trip. However, the thought of having to pack my entire life into two to three small suitcases (small to me as I have lots of clothes) is saddening. My mother continually antagonizes me about all the things I will miss her. It has become a ritual of our evening tea/chamomile before we wander of to bed. She asks, "how on earth will you continue to do that without me?"

I have to admit that there are many things that I will indeed miss, but most of all it's my family I'll miss the most. Is it possible to miss something/someone even when you're still in his/her/their/its presence? The thought of missing out on my father's birthday, my relatives' birthdays, Christmas with my family

Friday, August 20, 2010

Feature Friday: Mach's Grun

That's German for 'Make it Green'! Mach's Grun is a program which was started in Germany to reduce the carbon footprint caused by blogs. The Arbor Day Foundation plants trees for those who participate, and will be doing so until late summer. The plan is to offset the carbon dioxide emissions for up to 50 years.

For now, the trees are being planted to help the reforestation of the Plumas National Forest, which is located in the Sierra Nevada, United States. Once reforestation has been completed in this area, the program hopes to continue with the planting of more trees in another national forest.

According to the Mach's Grun site, Harvard University physicist, Alexander Wissner-Gross, calculated how much carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere per visit to a blog. He estimated that approximately  .02g of carbon dioxide for each visit is emitted, and if there are an average of 15,000 visits per month, that would calculate to 3.6kg, or 8lb, of CO2. How could a blog create so much pollution? Well, think about the amount of electricity that is used to run your computer and the mainframes, especially if you sit for hours. It was further estimated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that the yearly absorption of CO2 by a tree is between 10 to 30 kilos, or 20 to 70 pounds.

How can you participate in this movement? Visit the Mach's Grun website to find out more details! There is no reason not to do it because it's free!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Recap of Cortona

No post for today, but I wanted to share some photos that I took on my trip to Cortona two years ago. For some reason, I found this antique store to be absolutely fascinating, and probably could have stayed in there for hours pouring over its treasures. If you are ever in Cortona, be sure to stop by here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Seeing Stars

One of my favorite pastimes during the summer is seeing the meteor showers during the month of August. Every year, the Earth passes through debris of a comet. This year was the Perseids meteor shower. Perseids has been observed in the night skies for over 2,000 years, and orbits the sun every 133 years. The debris is made up of ice and dust from the comet, which burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. It is certainly a sight to see.

The height of the meteor shower was August 11-12, or 12-13. The past two nights have been really cloudy here in New Jersey, so once again my mother and I were a bit saddened that we were not able to see it at its best. However, throughout the month of August, one is able to see a few stragglers.

According to NASA, and their live feed video, meteors actually create sounds - pings, whistles, and blips. Hearing these sounds from ancient objects that have flown through the depths of space is eerie, yet beautiful at the same time. Who would have thought they could make music?! Visit the NASA website in order to hear the sounds.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What's Cooking Wednesday - Brindiamo: Capesante

The other day I was flipping through the channels and found one of my favorite shows, Brindiamo, after having seen it only once. The host Ornella Fado showcases many of the finest Italian restaurants in the United States, and gives insight to Italian culture and trends. In each show she visits a restaurant and the demonstrates cooking of some of their best dishes. View the video below to get an idea of the show.

It has only been recent that I have fallen in love with seafood, whereas before it faceva l'impressione, roughly translated as scared me. It is all thanks to my boyfriend's mother's fabulous cooking that I have come to enjoy foods such as mussels, scallops, and the like.

I'd like to share the recipe featured. Hope you enjoy!

This episode is from the restaurant, Marcello's, which I believe is located in New York City.

Capesante (Scallops)


cherry tomatoes
extra-virgin olive oil
shitake mushrooms

Before beginning with the directions, the scallops can be marinated for as long as you prefer up to 24 hours, or they can be cooked right away. First halve the cherry tomatoes. With the scallops on dish, pour the olive oil on them. Next, add oil to your pan on the stove and heat the oil. Add the scallops to the pan. Do not overcook the scallops as they will become too hard. Instead sear them.

In a separate pan, add olive oil. Cut the onions and leeks julienne- style. Place them into the pan. Next, add the mushrooms and then the arugula.
It's a very simple recipe. Buon appetito!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fear of the Sea

I have a need to apologize to any faithful readers out there. My blog has been so boring - for those of you who are not interested, nor pursuing dual citizenship. So I will continue where I've left off with the adventures in southern Italy. We had last left off with the creepy waiter who was continually calling my phone, not even to speak to me, but to my friend! Let's backtrack though to the part where we were swimming in the warm waters of Capri.

Not many people know this about me, except for perhaps my parents, my brother, and a friend or two, but I have a fear of the sea. Yes indeed. It has not always been like that however. When I was little, you see, I was a fish... or at least like one. As a child, I spent every summer at the local pool, swimming until my lips were blue, teeth were chattering, and fingers pruned. On rare occasions, my family made the trip to the beach. At the time, it was a forty-five minute drive in the car, which is now only a fifteen minute drive since we moved some years ago. I absolutely loved the ocean, and loved body surfing. The bigger the waves, the better. It was depressing with 'little baby waves', and not as fun.

This all changed five years ago when I went to the beach with my brother, Rhythmic Gymnastics coach, her two children, and two girls, my age, who were visiting from Germany. One day, we decided to go to the beach. As always, this was exciting to me. A day at the beach! What could be better?! The water that day was pretty cold, and I am not one who likes cold water. So I waded up to my shins, and watched as everyone else cringed, torturing themselves with the icy waters. (The waters around here do not heat up until August, which is also when the jellyfish hatch. How exciting...... if you like little snots-like creatures in your hair.) There was an extremely strong undertow (and later learned a riptide), which I did not pay much attention to but should have. As each wave pulled back from the beach, it pulled me as well, my brother and my coach's two children.

Keep in mind that one of my coach's children has a learning disability and was only six years old at the time. His older brother was eight or nine years at the time. At some point, the younger child began going underwater. He did not know how to swim, inspite of his mother's efforts to have him taught during swimming lessons. His older brother also had swimming lessons, but obviously was too young to be a strong swimmer. Since the younger of the two children could no longer stand, as the water was getting deeper since we were going further into the water, I decide to help him, and hold him up. By now the water was up to my chest, and the older of the two could no longer hold his head above water. My brother decided to help him. We decided it was time to head back. But it was too late. We were slowly being sucked out to sea, and any efforts we made to head back to shore made no progress. The current was just too strong.

My brother and I then realized we were in trouble when we could no longer keep our own heads above water, due to the current and trying to keep the two little kids above water. It is very difficult to try to swim or tread water, while holding someone. Finally we saw some relief, as four lifeguards came to our rescue. They gave us little buoys  to hold onto, and helped  us out of the water. It was great to be back on shore.

Luckily, a half hour after we were rescued, all swimmers had to get out of the water because there was a shark siting. There must have been someone looking over us that day because we either could have drown, or been eaten by a shark. We slowly made our way back over to my coach and the two other girls who did not come into the water. I told my coach what happened, and she said, "we just got here and already you have to be saved?" All I could think of was, "wow! We just tried saving your kids because you don't seem to bother to watch them, and you say that?!"

 A couple of days later, she called and said, " I talked to my son (the younger one), and he said he wasn't going under the water, that nothing happened." I said, "really? Apparently he didn't know what was going on, and I was holding him up out of the water so he wouldn't drown." Perhaps I should've just taken care of myself then.

From that day, both my brother and myself are afraid to go into the water at the beach. My time at Capri was probably the only time I went in the ocean since that day, and have only been in the water in Pesaro where they have huge rock walls in circle formations so as to prevent tides and waves. Otherwise I don't go in the water.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happenings in Cortona

A fellow reader asked me to post any information I had on events occurring in Cortona. Remember my Off-the- Beaten Trail of Cortona? Well, if you are a new reader, or would simply like to re-read these posts, click here, here, and here. As promised, here is what will be happening in Cortona this summer.

The Festival del Sole, or the Sun Festival, which occurs every summer since it began in the 1990s thanks to Barrett Wissman and cellist Nina Kotova, who discussed their idea with writer Frances Mayes. You can find out more about the festival by visiting their 'About the Festival' page.

This year's festival will be held from July 30 until August 5, and aims to explore the five senses by including musical performances, art exhibitions, and of course food. Artists this year include:

Nina Kotova
Trudie Styler
Joshua Bell
Gabriele Lavia
Irina Dvorovenko

Is anyone going this year? 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grandma's BC Arrives, and Other Great News

Yesterday, another important piece of mail arrived - my grandmother's birth certificate. Unfortunately the form that my aunt had and mailed to me was in short form. This is not accepted for international use. It must be in international/long form in order for it to be able to receive an Apostille. In order to receive such a document, you must request it, otherwise you will receive a short form version of the document.

The only two documents that I need are two more 'no records found' for my great-great grandfather's naturalization. Before leaving, I plan to make yet another trip to the consulate to have them review my papers and to have the last remaining translations notarized.

In other news, a date has been set for my arrival in Italy. I would have like to have been able to go sooner, but the prices of the flights were ridiculous in the beginning of September. Why would I pay exorbitant prices when I know a much cheaper flight can be found? So, it has been decided by the plane gods that I will be leaving September 15, and arrive the 16 since it is an overnight flight. I am so excited!!!!

Soon I will be blogging to you from Italy! In turn this will start yet another chapter here on Passage to Italy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Last Thursday, I went into New York City to obtain my grandmother's birth and marriage certificate. Before I went I had called the Department of Health to make sure I would be able to receive the document. It was simply getting a long/international/extended (all of these terms are used to describe the type of form) form, as I have a copy of the short form. The woman I spoke to said I would need to bring in her birth certificate that I had plus the death certificate and my ID. My father came with me because, well, it's better to have company, and also as a precaution... just in case when I got there, they stated only the next-of-kin could receive it or something. I was really worried that they just wouldn't give it to us and that the woman on the phone made a mistake. Plus I brought my dad's and my birth certificates just in case.

Be prepared to wait at Vital Records. The wait was 2 hours long, and you are basically herded like cattle while waiting, as they form groups to go into the office at a time. The earlier you get there, the better. My dad and I got there at 10:45, which was actually a little late.

About receiving the birth certificate - all you actually need is the death certificate and your ID. The woman was confused though, don't know why, as she stated, "she passed away in 2007." I said yes, I have the short form but need the long form for international use...and thought well I wouldn't be here, waiting all this time, if I really didn't need it.

To receive the international form, you will not get it the day you hand in everything. It is mailed out 2 to 3 weeks later.

The next stop was to the County Clerk, which is across the street from Vital Records. This was very simple because it has been 60 years since my grandparents were married, and I would've only had trouble if it had been less than 50. If you can narrow down the year of the marriage, you will be able to receive the document the day you request it. Otherwise, you will have to do a mail-in order to do a search. I only had to wait about 20-30 minutes for the marriage certificate. Not bad!

I also learned today that getting the apostille for marriage certificates is a little different - less paper work. :) ... which I like a lot! The less hassle the better.

If you have any questions feel free to either leave a message in the comment section or e-mail me at,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Si Parte?

That's Italian for 'Leaving?', or literally 'One is leaving?'. Currently, I am in the works of planning for my arrival in Italy, and have been contacting the comune via e-mail, just to make sure I have everything. I am so excited that I am almost done with collecting all of my documents! Thankfully, my birth certificate and my father's arrived today in the mail, AND also my parents' marriage certificate. It took over a month for the birth certificate to finally come through. Most of the translations are done, as well. The only things left to translate are: a page of my great grandparents' marriage certificate, my parents' marriage certificate, my grandmother's birth and marriage certificate.

If I've understood the e-mail correctly that I received from the Stato Civile (civil state office), there are less requirements than there are here in the United States. If I had decided to apply in Italy much sooner, it would have taken me half the time to gather all the documents. In the comune, they will only be requesting the Italian side of my family, meaning, my great-great grandfather's birth and marriage certificate, my great grandfather's birth and marriage certificate, my grandmother's birth and marriage certificate, my father's birth and marriage certificate, and my birth certificate. Nothing was mentioned about the death certificates, and nothing was mentioned about the non-Italian side, which is good because it would be difficult to get my grandfather's birth certificate.

Make sure that if you are applying in Italy that you contact the Stato Civile to be sure of what documents are required of you.

Is it worth it? Yes, I think so. Without having done this whole process researching my family and gathering documents, my family and I would not know as much. Sure, there were some things we knew about our family members, but with these papers we know even more, and that is priceless.

If you are making the move to Italy, or have made to move, share your story with us! I will gladly do a feature on your story in 'Feature Friday'. You can reach me by e-mail at:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Crisis Averted

Today, after trying to get in touch with the Department of State, which is the office you must send your documents to for an apostille, for an hour, my father's birth certificate and mine have been found! Last week, I called the office inquiring on their status, as I had sent them in on June 10. The lady that I spoke to stated that the documents had been processed. My reply was, "oh ok! So I'll just have to wait for them to come in the mail." This was still kind of strange as I had sent a prepaid priority mail envelope. Since nothing had arrived in the mail, I became more worried about the possibility of them being lost in the mail. Many of us have had our woes with the Italian postal service, but with the United States Postal service? Nothing never usually happens except that some things arrive a little later than you thought they would.

So, I decided to call the office once again. For those of you also dealing with NYC, use this number to skip calling whoever it is that does the transfers of calls. I was provided this number when I received a notarized document: 212-417-5801. However, here is another number so you do not have to continually pester the person who perhaps is at some front desk at the office. haha! The kind lady, who recognized my voice supplied me with this number: 212-417-5747. This number allows you to just jump into the list of extensions for services done by the Department of State. In the first menu, press 5 for Apostille and traffic violations (or something like that. Then press 1 for Apostilles. Again press 1 in the third menu for a representative at the Apostille Office.

Be sure to photocopy documents AND write down dates as to when they were sent to be notarized, apostilled, or ordered. This will help in the process so those helping you in the office can better assist you.
After speaking to yet another employee, I gave my address (I'm so stupid!), and was informed that they were being sent out right away.

Crisis averted!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Appointment at the Consulate

As usual, I did not take any photos of my whereabouts, but I have more insight about the whole process of applying for dual citizenship. My father and I hopped on a train to get to the consulate in Newark. Taking the train was a breeze, and we did not have to worry about traffic or parking. For those traveling to the consulate in Newark, the best way to get there is by train. Newark Penn Station, not to be confused with NEW YORK Penn Station (which is two stops after on that line), is right across the street from the consulate. The address is: 1 Gateway Center.

Upon arriving, my father and I checked in at the lobby to receive visitor passes. The Italian consulate is not the only office in the building. Take the elevator to the first floor, and you've arrived! When I arrived at the consulate, I stated to the woman at the front desk that I had an appointment at 10am, but since the gentleman I was supposed to talk to was busy with another person prior to my appointment, we were told to wait. After a little over a half hour, more people began to arrive. Another individual had arrived to see the same gentleman I was meeting with. Somehow, I was forgotten about, and the person who arrived after me, went in ahead of me. I told my father, "I think we were forgotten about. That guy went in before me. So I got up and started pacing. Finally the lady I had spoken to at the front desk saw me, and she apologized profusely, and that I would be next. Ok, so I kept my cool. It was better for me to do that instead of complaining. After all, they were handling my papers and could very well give me a hard time, if they so chose.

Finally it was my turn. We went into the office and I presented my documents. When submitting translations to the consulate, your translator should have provided a sheet that states that, however many documents, were translated from English into Italian by the translator. The paper is then signed and notarized by a notary. This notary is not to be confused with the notaries made on my translations. The person I met with was a notary of the consulate. He must look over each translation carefully, compare it to the originals to make sure everything is correct and translated properly. After reading through the translation, it is stamped and says,

" (nome del consulato) si dichiara che la presente composta di n.___(quanti fogli per la traduzione del documento) fogli, e' traduzione conforme all'originale redatto in lingua inglese"

Roughly translated, "(name of consulate) declares that said form composted of (number of pages, how many pages of translation for 1 document) pages, is a translation of the original document in the English language."

A date is then stamped on it. It is then given another stamp that say "il console", name of the official signing the document, and then the signature of the official. A sticker that states my full name plus the cost is then included.

For each document this was done. The notary was very helpful, but he did not know what needed to be notarized and neither did I since the comune had never responded to my e-mail. Thus, I decided just to have the Italian side of the family notarized as the papers cost me, yet again, more money. What keeps me from complaining about costs is that it still does not amount to the cost of American citizenship, which I've heard costs around $10,000. This helps me feel a little better, but I can't help the cha-ching that echoes in my head. The prices per document vary at the consulate in Newark. Some documents cost $8 to be notarized, others $10, and others like, notices to funeral directors, cost $16. Now that I think about it, I wonder if that even needed to be stamped. But that's what NYC sent me, along with the death certificate, when I requested the document.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tomorrow is the Big Day!

Tomorrow is the big day! It has finally arrived. I have been going over all my documents today, and of course, stumbled across yet another one that has not been translated yet. That is my fault as for some reason it was not scanned and sent over to the translator. Hopefully, in mid-July I'll be able to schedule another appointment to have the rest of the documents stamped by the consulate. I am also hoping that the two documents that were mailed back to me from the Department of State arrive today in time for my appointment tomorrow. Oh! Actually the mail just arrived, so I'll go check it now!

Wish me luck! And good luck to anyone else who is applying soon!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Just wanted to update all of my fellow readers, but my appointment at the consulate is quickly approaching. Only two more days! Hopefully, being the loyal blogger that I am, I will remember to bring my camera to photograph the outside of the consulate to show evidence of me being there. It has been a little over a year in the collection of all of these documents.

Oh! Plus my grandmother's birth certificate was finally sent by my aunt. It, unfortunately, is not the correct format that is needed. All consulates require a long format of the certificate. When my grandmother requested hers in 1993, according to the date on the document, she was given the short format, or more of an abbreviated version. Tomorrow, I plan on calling the NYC Department of Health to see if it would be possible for me to acquire the version that I need. Hopefully, with the birth certificate and death certificate in hand, I will be able to get it if I go in-person. (Post will follow to let all of you know what the outcome was.)

So as to get an idea of the cost of everything, I will break it down for you:

Total translation costs thus far: $855
Costs of documents: about $195, but I think I spent more since newer documents through Vital Check cost nearly $40, as opposed to all the other documents costing about $25.
Cost of documents to be notarized: about $32
Cost of Apostille: $70

Total: $1,152

These are rough estimations, and in some areas I think I may have spent more. This estimate does not include the $10 per page that I must pay in order to have each translation stamped in order to use them over in Italy.

I also e-mailed the consulate to see if my father could accompany me during my appointment. Someone responded today and said he could come. I've heard that it is important that you first ask, otherwise they get annoyed when more than one person shows up for the appointment. This will be somewhat of a relief as I will not have to do this by myself.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Down South Part II

The next day my friends and I woke up early. We were heading to Capri! We began our little adventure by walking to the ticket booth. After purchasing our tickets, we then needed to find out where exactly our boat departed from. Fortunately, yet again, there was another nice local man who happened to know where the boat was located. Unfortunately it was a half hour walk from where we had bought our tickets. The town of Agropoli looked less frightening during the day then it had the night before. There were palm trees that lined an enormous boulevard (it was not a sidewalk) where people could cycle or walk. It was quite beautiful.

After the half hour walk, we finally arrived and immediately boarded the ferry. The ride on the ferry would be yet another two hours before we arrived on Capri. Speeding up the coastline is also a great way to see Italy, especially since one is able to see all the little towns built into the sides of the mountains. After quite a bit of viewing the coastline, the lull of the boat rocked me to sleep. It seemed like I had slept quite a bit, but it was probably only just fifteen minutes because after those fifteen minutes, we had already arrived. The boat docked and we all stepped back onto land, but we would soon be on another boat. Once we had arrived, we planned on circling the entire island, which was a five-hour ride. Before leaving, we got some food from one of the cafes and met our captain. (Pictured on the right-hand side) Unfortunately, I do not remember his name. Sorry, I'm awful with names! But, I will tell you that he was a very nice man. 

As soon as we departed from the shores, we began devouring our lunch, along with the gorgeous, tasty figs that the captain had brought on board for us. Along our way we saw enormous yachts - ones that had a parking garage with yet another boat parked inside of it. Smaller boats nuzzled up next to the large vessel. Apparently when out on your yacht you can never travel with too many boats. Speed boats whizzed by, and other tourist boats with lots of people enjoyed the sights as well.

At one point, after being given the OK, we jumped off the boat and swam. The water was so warm, but relaxing, and it was not difficult to swim due to the amount of salt in the water. This was a big step for me, as for the past few years I no longer ventured into the sea. (That's a story for another time.) Right by the rock in the picture below is near where we jumped off.

We swam through one of the arches, like the one at the top of the page, and the water changed to a dark blue. However, you could still see the bottom; the sand undulating like hills underneath the waves. Once back on board, we went through another arch, and were told to make a wish. Yes, I know very touristy! If you go back to Capri, the wish is said to come true... Sorry, but I can't tell you my wish, otherwise it won't come true.

After circling the whole island, we lazily walked back onto shore. Now, it was time to do some shopping. There would not have been enough time for us to go see more sights on the island. That would have to be for another time, but it certainly would not have been during that year. Hopefully, I'll be able to go back sometime in the near future. 

During our stay on the island, two of my other friends and I stopped at a cafe for drinks and gelato. Everywhere we went, we HAD to stop for a gelato.

We even took pictures with our drinks and with our gelato. Could people tell we were tourists? Yes, definitely, as we made the most out of trip. Plus, my blond hair gives me away. That's from the Irish part of my family. We also could not get rid of one of the waiters (pictured below), who claimed he was going to move to America with my friend G, and marry her. During those kinds of moments, I was fortunate enough not to know enough Italian to understand what was going on. Hence I escaped from being hit on by as much as G did. (One time G was nearly kidnapped in Florence, but that's another story).

The creepy Italian even called my phone. G had used his SIM card in my phone to make a call, and somehow my numbers were transferred to his phone. Why she did not just use his phone, I have no idea. Unless she told him my number! Every day he would call my phone, until finally my boyfriend picked up and told him to buzzer off!

To be continued