Thursday, April 29, 2010

Love Thursday: Rest in Peace, Grandpa

"You've left me alone," my grandmother mournfully cried to my grandfather, while stroking his arm. He had passed away only moments before while we laid in bed, waiting for the nurse to give us any news. "You're not alone, grandma," I cried, "you still have all of us here for you." Saying that seemed to make her feel better. It was 2 to 3 years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, and only six months, after being diagnosed with colon cancer. The doctor he had originally seen had stated that his colonoscopy was clear, but it was not until a second doctor viewed the reports that a large massive tumor was discovered. His death was a shock to the whole family; inspite of his condition, he was doing fairly well. My mother and I had just left only two days prior, having been helping to take care of him for four days. My aunt, who is an RN, had been taking care of him all week, and was sleep deprived. Every two hours he woke to call us to help him out of bed. He was no longer able to walk, only being able to take a few steps until he needed his wheelchair.

During those four days we spent with him, he was conscious, responding well, and even debating with my father about streets in the Bronx. In fact, he remember much better than my father did, which was exceptional considering his age, 85. On Sunday evening (4/18), we left their apartment in Connecticut with my aunt, and went home, content that all was going well... So we thought. It was only a month that he had started complaining of pain, and the pain had finally been managed with pain medication. Monday, he had eaten all of his meals, which was a little strange to me. While we were there, he always had a big breakfast and either a small lunch and a small dinner, or no dinner at all. He sat in his chair, watching TV with my grandmother, aunt, and uncle, and began discussing old TV programs, and could recall all the characters, and even the actual names of the actors. However, that night, everything changed. He became agitated, and nervous at night, but this time it was different.

As my grandmother was saying good night to him, holding his hand as always, he told her, "I'm trying." Her reply was, "if you have to go, it's ok to go." No one wanted to see him suffer. It would not have been fair if he did. We all called him 'the saint'. He never raised his voice, or was ever unkind, and was a faithful husband to my grandmother for the sixty years they had been married.

That night, he slipped into a coma, and had difficulty breathing. His breathing was comparable to a percolating coffee pot. In the morning on Tuesday, my mother received an urgent from my aunt telling her he had "made a turn for the worst". My mother rushed home, and we all hopped into the car. Aunts, uncles, and cousins arrived at his side in my grandparents' Connecticut home. He had been under Hospice care for the past two months, a decision which had been made once it was learned that the cancer would be inoperable. A priest, who has slowly become more of a friend to the family, gave my grandfather his last rights, and at one time, asked my grandfather for penance of any sins he may have made. Until that time, my grandfather had not spoken since the night before, but managed to utter 'yes'. They say that hearing is the last thing to be lost when upon death's doorstep, and he had heard our prayers for him.

Later, everyone went home, all except for my mother and myself. We stayed with my grandmother and the nurse. On Wednesday, April 21, at 4:30am., my grandfather gave up his struggle. He had fought hard throughout the day, due to his "strong heart", my grandmother explained. Although most are no longer used to death at home, I feel it was the best way to go - surrounded by loved ones, in your own home, instead of connected to tubes and IVs in a hospital or in a nursing home.

Francis was born in the Bronx to a lively house of five boys, himself being the youngest. Family myths state there was also a sister, but she had did of pneumonia when she was only 3 to 4 months old. At an early age, he started his small arsenal, having faked his mom into buying a Beebe gun that he supposedly needed for a school play. As life would have it, there was a war to which Francis was called to fight, in Iwo Jima, to which he answered. My grandfather was never the king of a worldly country, but the king of my mother's family. He had pursued her, according to my grandmother's version of the story, at the New York Telephone Company when she was just a mere 18. Within no time, Francis had won her over and they were soon married. They moved to Georgia for him to serve state-side during the Korean War. After serving his time he and my grandmother moved back to New York to begin their little kingdom of four children. And so the kingdom continued for 60 years with all the trials and tribulations of a king and his kingdom. Francis was always well-tempered, quiet, and simple in his needs because he always had my grandmother to liven things up, as well as the 'cherubs'/ There were the trips to Emily's bakery in Westbrook, Connecticut or Flemington, New Jersey on the New Jersey Turnpike, which he truly loved! (My grandfather never liked New Jersey.) As my aunts and uncles grew older, and pursued their own kingdoms, there were always the meetings at Silvio's Restaurant on Friday nights in Parkchester for good food and good laughs.

The kingdom was then moved to Lord's Valley, Pennsylvania. There were fun times, and sleigh rides, hot chocolate at the Steer Barn, Halloween parades, the beach, the boat, the fireworks, the "Bambi's", and the bears. (Every deer to my brother, when he was little, was called a Bambi.) Marie (my grandmother) and Frank enjoyed 25 years of country kingdom bliss with good neighbors.

Unfortunately the king was called away from his kingdom and now we all saw plainly the "goodness the observations about the middle station of life, how easy, how comfortably, he had lived all his days."

Grandpa, we all love you dearly, and miss you so much already. 
We pray that your pain has been eased, and there is no longer any struggle. We hope you have finally been reunited with your parents, brothers, and sister after having waited all these years to join them.

Rest in peace.

(The last portion written about his life was taken from the eulogy my mother wrote, with a quote from Robinson Crusoe.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Poetry: La Vita del Villaggio

The title translates as, "The Life of the Village". In one of my advanced Italian classes, we were required to write a poem. Being the Italophile that I am, mine was written about Italy. The translation is provided under the poem, which is originally written in Italian.


La luce inizia ad illuminare
la sommità della montagna,
scendendo piano, piano sulle pianure.
I girasoli si svegliano,
creando un mare d'oro.

Gli insetti si rimpinzano

sul nettare delizioso,


Si può sentire le voci,

i venditori gridano per strada,

e si ricorda che un altro giorno

ha iniziato 

e il silenzio della mattina

ha sparito.


The light begins to illuminate,

the summit of the mountain,

descending slowly, slowly onto the plains.

The sunflowers wake up,

creating a sea of gold.

The insects fill themselves

on the nectar,

delicious, creamy.

One can hear voices,

the sellers yell in the streets,

and one remembers that another day

has begun,

and the silence of the morning

has vanished.

Have you written any poetry about Italy? Care to share? If so, either leave a message in the comment section of this post, or e-mail me at:

Buona giornata!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Citizenship Saturday: Do I Qualify, Part II

Last week, our discussion lead you to learning about qualifying through a parent or grandparent. Do not allow this to deter you from pursuing dual citizenship. It is said that there are no generational limitations in applying... as long as certain aspects do not interrupt the bloodline, such as naturalization.

How to Obtain Citizenship Through a Great Grandparent

Applying through a great grandmother

With this generation included, it may become increasingly more difficult to obtain citizenship through a woman within your family. If you are applying through your great grandmother, and your grandmother was born before January 1, 1948, you do not qualify. However, if your grandmother was born after the aforementioned date, continue reading. (To learn about the January 1, 1948 law, click here.)

To apply through a great grandparent, you must obtain the following documents:

great grandmother's birth certificate
great grandfather's birth certificate
*great grandparents' marriage certificate
*great grandparents' death certificate

* whether the documents originate from Italy or from the United States will determine whether they will need an apostille.

(1) grandparents' birth certificates
grandparents' marriage certificate
* grandparents' death certificate

* If this applies, you must acquire these documents.

(2) your parents' birth certificates
parents' marriage certificate
* parents' divorce certificate
* parents' death certificates

* If this applies, you must acquire these documents.

(3) Your birth certificate

If you wish to include your children in your application, they must be minors, and you must include your marriage certificate, as well as your child/children's birth certificate(s). If your child is no longer longer a minor, he/she must apply on his/her own.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Feature Friday: L'Universita' di Urbino

Fellow Italy blogger, BaroqueSicily, asked me a great question about l'Universita' di Urbino. I figured I would address the question once again and elaborate for those of you who did not read it.

Her question was:

jann said...

Urbino has been on my must-see list for quite a few years. Thanks for reminding me that I've got to get there! Can foreigners older than university-age study there? Is is sort of like l'Universita per Stranieri in Perugia in that sense? Or would you say it's mainly young people?
Well, for one thing, I am not sure if the Universita' di Urbino can be compared to the Universita' per Stranieri in Perugia. I have not frequented at said school in Perugia, but might imagine it is more geared towards foreigners. The Universita' di Urbino includes both Italian students for university studies, as well as foreign students who wish to study at the university. In truth, my classes in Urbino were still directed by my university's professors, as in comparison to Urbino's professors. Therefore, I cannot recount my experiences in their classes. However, this is not to say that Urbino does not hold language courses for foreigners.

Each summer, in August, the Universita' di Urbino conducts language and culture courses, which last for four weeks. You can fin out more information on what is offered - fees, courses, and lodging, here. (Actually, there is some contradiction between two of their pages. One states the classes are conducted throughout August, but on the Summer Course page, it lists the dates as July 26 - August 20, 2010.)

The site, however, does not discuss the requirements for the application process, as to whether you need a visa, and what educational documents from the US you will need. My guess would be that you would not need  a study visa for those of you living outside of Italy, as it is only for a month. As for papers showing proof of education, I am not sure about this program. I suggest directly contacting the university.

You can contact the university at:

0722/305 250 (dial +011, if calling outside of Italy)

It states they can speak to you in either English or in Italian over the phone.

You can also e-mail them: -- information available at this e-mail address in English and Italian -- who speaks Italian, English, Spanish, and Greek.

I found Ms. Renga to be very helpful when I was planning to directly apply to the University. You should also contact the closest Italian consulate to your current residency in order to obtain information about any visa requirements.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Love Thursday: Flowers Galore

Hope you are all enjoying the weather and the beautiful flowers that are finally springing up all over the place. They grow so quickly with the first hint of warm weather. I'm practicing photographing things in nature, which to me, is quite difficult to do. What do you think of the above photograph?

Unfortunately, I will not be able to post as often. Remember my post about my grandfather being diagnosed with cancer? Well, I'll be gone from Thursday until Sunday to take care of him with my mom. However, I've set up a few post for you for this week; yesterday's What's Cooking Wednesday, tomorrow's post, and of course the Citizenship Saturday post I promised to continue.

Happy Love Thursday!

And if you are too far away from your loved ones to see them,
be sure to call them to let them know you're thinking of them.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's Cooking Wednesday: La Pasta col Tonno

Or in English, Pasta with tuna. My boyfriend taught me this southern Italian recipe, and it has since become my favorite. Since I did not learn the recipe with any precise calculations, such a certain amount of olives or onion, I am leaving it up to you to decide just how much you may like with this dish. My boyfriend only likes to cook this with a little bit of onion, since he does not like onion; perhaps just to give it a little flavor. However, I cook this dish with half of an onion.


chopped Green olives
about a tablespoon of Extra-virgin olive oil
Rigatoni pasta
chopped onion; either tiny slivers or up to half an onion (however, much onion you'd prefer)
pureed red tomato sauce (enough that will lightly coat the pasta, not douse it)
canned tuna fish, either canned with olive oil or with water (preferably olive oil)


Fill a pot of water, and wait for it to come to a boil. Once boiling, add salt and then add your pasta. Cook your pasta according to the recommended amount of time for 'al dente'. Salting should be to taste. While waiting for the water to boil, add a tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil to a separate sauce pain. Slightly warm the oil. Add onions, and cook until they become transparent. Next, add the tuna fish, olives, and tomato sauce. Salt your sauce to how salty you prefer it. Heat the mixture until warmed. Once your pasta has cooked, strain the pasta, and place it back into the pot you cooked it in. Finally, add your sauce to your pasta, and mix it together.

Very quick dish to cook up!

Buon appetito!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: Palazzo ducale

Il Palazzo ducale

"Non siete mai stati a Urbino? Se continuerete a rispondere di no, dovrete sentirvi in colpa, perché vi mancherà una dimensione della civiltà italiana. E questo lo si dice non soltanto per quello che è il suo patrimonio artistico, no, lo si dice per quella che è la fisionomia stessa della città, per la sua aria, per la straordinaria bellezza della sua terra.

Urbino è un paessaggio incantato." ~ Carlo Bo

 Translation: You haven't been to Urbino? If you continue to say no, you should feel guilty because you are missing a dimension of Italian civilization. And this is not only said of its artistic heritage, no, it is said for that of the same physiognomy of the town, for its ambiance, for the extraordinary beauty of its terrain.

Urbino is an enchanting landscape."


Il Palazzo ducale has been mentioned very often throughout my blog. But what is so special about this unique building? For one, it housed one of the Renaissance's most influential people, Federico da Montefeltro, the duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482, who was a patron of the arts and of Humanism. He was also the owner of one of the greatest libraries in the 15th century, owning well over 1,000 manuscripts and a wide range of books that contained studies in astrology, geography, history, poetry, theology, and even writings in various languages. You just may be familiar with this guy. His profile is very well-known, and can be seen all over, especially throughout Urbino, from posters adorning shops in town, to postcards you can purchase in the tabbacheria, the tobacco shop.

The Palazzo, or palace, was built in the fifteenth century, and has since become the National Museum of Le Marche. It is said that it contains three hundred sixty-five room, and for each night of the year, the duke stayed in a different room. (This story seems to be quite familiar throughout history.) Unfortunately, I won't be able to provide you with any photographic evidence of the inside of the palazzo. It is prohibited to photograph inside. I have seen photographs online of the inside of the palace, but I must tell you that the woman who was our guide, made sure we did not bring out cameras. I was, however, able to buy postcards of what I found to be the highlights of the palazzo. Oh, and there are pictures of the courtyard, which I was able to take.

There was no grand entrance, coming down an enormous staircase, but instead out group entered in through a side door near the Duomo. Upon entering through the door, we came into a courtyard. The courtyard must truly be beautiful after a good rain, as the center of it captures any rainfall, creating a pool. After crossing the courtyard, we came to a fairly large room within the palazzo, where they now have a locker room. We were required to keep our belongings here.

The most fascinating parts of our guided tour were the Alcova del duca, and the Studiolo del Duca Federico. These two rooms were part of what was known as the appartamento del Duca, the Duke's apartment. The Alcova del duca looks like a small wooden room constructed within the camera da letto, bedroom, and it is within this wooden structure that the Duke slept in. I must say that the Studiolo was my favorite room in the entire palace. It was a room intended for all sorts of activities, like receiving visitors or examining papers. The tiny room creates an illusion, or a trompe l'oeil, (in French meaning 'the trick of the eye') of mutliple cabinets and benches made by wooden inlays. These cabinets showed 3-D pictures of musical and scientific instruments, as well as books which the Duke was well-known to have loved. The technique is known as intarsia. You can see a more in-depth look at the intarsia of the room below in a video from YouTube, which was reconstructed virtually.

The views from the balcony, (which can be seen in the first picture of this post, if you can see the two balcones between the two turrets at the front of the palace), are incredible. They allow one to see the valley stretching out below the little town, and the tops of the quaint buildings down below.

If you ever visit Urbino, it is highly recommended that you take a tour of this spectacular gem. Here is also a great video of Urbino, which has views within the palace walls.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Citizenship Saturday: Do I Qualify?

Anyone who wishes to apply for dual citizenship asks themselves this question in the beginning - do I qualify? Here I will provide the most simple ways to help you learn whether you qualify to apply or not.

Unlike many other countries, Italian citizenship is not passed down based on where you are born, but by blood, through your lineage. There are countless amounts of immigrants who have come to Italy, birthing their children on Italian soil. However, their children are not granted citizenship upon their births. Upon first hearing, I thought it was quite odd, and after telling others of how its acquired, they too think it is odd, but it's the Italian way.

You must meet the following requirements:

1.  A child is born to an Italian citizen parent, or a parent with the right to Italian citizenship, known as "jure sanguinis". Therefore, this parent will be known as an Italian parent.

2. If the child was born before August 16, 1992, the parent must not have taken another citizenship by naturalization at the time of the child's birth.

3. Ancestors naturalized before June 14, 1912 cannot transmit citizenship, even if the child was born before the naturalization occurred. However, this is not enforced by all consulates.

4. Your ancestor must have passed away after March 17, 1861 either in Italy or abroad, due to Italy's unification. Anyone who passed away before this date was not considered an Italian citizen. This is inspite of the 'no generational limitations'.

The best route to go for applying is through a male relative. Why? Up until January 1, 1948, women were not able to pass down Italian citizenship, therefore it could only be passed down through men. Don't feel defeated just yet if your relative is/was a female. I will explain this later.

The easiest way to apply is through a parent:

1. Your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, and you have never renounced your citizenship.

You will find that your relative being a citizen at the time of your birth is the key element in all cases. If your relative naturalized before your birth, the citizenship line ceased upon his/her naturalization to you and all other generations there after. So, qualification does not pertain to you. However, if the naturalization occurred after your birth, you do qualify. Another obstacle, is when the naturalization occurred. If the naturalization occurred before July 1, 1912, your relative caused the children to lose their Italian citizenship. If the naturalization occurred after the aforementioned date, and it occurred after the birth of the child you are applying through, then you qualify.

If you are applying through your father, you will need the following documents:

(1.) your father's birth certificate
(2.) your mother's birth certificate
(3.) your parents' marriage certificate
(4.) your birth certificate
(5.) your father's naturalization records or Italian passport and green card
*(6). a parent's divorce certificate
*(7.) a parent's death certificate
(8.) your US passport and driver's license

* Those will asterisk are optional depending on whether a divorce or death occurred.

According to the Newark Italian Consulate, any Italian birth certificate (those acquired through Italy from births in Italy) must be in either formato internazionale, international format, or in estratto per riassunto, basically a summarization of the act, and must show both the father's and mother's names. The marriage certificate must be a certified copy of both the license and certificate, if acquired in the United States, and must have an apostille.

Your birth certificate must be presented in long form, and must be a certified copy with an apostille.

2. Your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, and you were born after January 1, 1948.

As mentioned before, mothers could not pass down citizenship until January 1, 1948. This does not depend on the birth of the mother, but on the birth of her child. If you were born before the above date, you do not qualify, even if your mother was still a citizen at the time of your birth.

To apply, you must produce the above-mentioned documents but in regards to your mother.

With the addition of more and more generations, there are more obstacles, and everything must fall in place just so.

Paternal (maternal) grandfather/ grandmother

1. Your father was born in your native country, your paternal grandfather was a citizen at the time of his birth, and neither you nor your father have renounced your rights to Italian citizenship.

When applying, you must provide the following documents:

(1) your paternal grandfather's birth certificate
(2) your paternal grandmother's birth certificate
(3) your paternal grandparents' marriage certificate
(4) your paternal grandparents' death certificates (if this applies)
(5) your grandfather's naturalization records or  Italian passport and green card
(6) your father's birth certificate
(7) your mother's birth certificate
(8) your parents' marriage certificate
(9) your parents' death certificates (if applicable)
(10) your birth certificate

2. Your mother was born in your native country, your maternal grandfather was an Italian citizen upon her birth, you were born after January 1, 1948, and neither you nor your mother ever renounced your right to citizenship.

You must obtain the above listed documents, but in regards to your mother.

Please stay tuned for more information on 'Do I Qualify'? If you have any questions about this post, please feel free to comment below or e-mail me at I will answer all questions to the best of my ability.

For more information on appointments, documents, and other requirements on applying, please consult your nearest consulate's website or call during their scheduled times to receive calls. For information on scheduled times to receive calls from the public, contact their answering service, or consult the website. The best way to receive this information, however, is to consult the website. The consult may not answer your message left on their answering system. Welcome to dealing with the Italian consulate!

Sources of acquired information: Newark Italian Consulate, Italian Dual Citizenship

Friday, April 9, 2010

Feature Friday: G-Bar

 Have your pastry in the morning, and music at night!

One morning, after my boyfriend and I had been to the Saturday morning market, which deserves a post unto itself, we decided to stop at G-Bar. The previous year, renovations were in progress, and so we couldn't stop to visit. I was curious as to how good the food would be there. Last year, however, they finally opened. It was like an oasis in Urbino, with little tropical plants adorning its walkway to the front door, and posh exotic-like furniture.

We stopped to have a cappuccino, inspite of the heat already being at its peak in the day at noon, and a pastry. Most of the pastries had already been eaten by those who had come much earlier.

As we entered the bar, I noticed the decor greatly differed from that of the exterior. If I remember correctly, it was more of a circa 1950s look. We both selected two brioche filled with apricot, (Just thinking about it is making my mouth water!) to accompany our cappuccino. We settled outside on one of the divans, enjoying the nice weather, and the peaceful ambiance of the Saturday afternoon. After happily munching away at my brioche, and sipping my frothy cappuccino, I noticed the advertisement on our table.

(Click the picture to enlarge)
It advertised an "aperitivo and live music". Judging by the picture, it features jazz music. Unfortunately we never took the opportunity to go to one of their music nights. Here, you can see it lists all the evenings that they'll be holding their music nights, which will probably differ this year.

If you happen to be in the area, you should definitely stop by G-Bar.

Via virgili, 19
Urbino, PU
Tel: 0722.328151

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What's Cooking Wednesday: The Easter Feast

As promised, I'm sharing evidence of the Easter Feast. I was really pining for l'agnello. Did you figure out what it means? If not, it's lamb. In my opinion, lamb seems to be the most commonly eaten food during Easter. However, instead of lamb, we had a nice pork roast. My sister was the cook, as she has been for most of our holidays recently, and was probably cooking since yesterday. So what else did the menu entail?

There was pomegranate juice reduction to drench the meat in, accompanied by roasted potatoes and asparagus. No, that wasn't all we had to eat. As an appetizer, she had also made marinated mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant. It also included prosciutto, mozzarella with red peppers, basil and olive oil, and deviled eggs. If that wasn't enough, we had a type of limoncello tartufo for dessert, which was very delicious, fresh, and cleaned the palate.

The recipe for the pomegranate juice reduction is actually quite simple, and seems more complicated than it really is. Since pomegranates are not yet in season, my sister made due with pomegranate juice. Originally she wanted to have pieces of the pomegranate in the sauce.The bottle she bought was a liter, and six cups of the juice makes one - one and a half cups of reduction.

Sorry, I would have taken more pictures, but the blogger within me was a little delayed at taking out the camera. In the first picture, you can see the bowl of reduction on the left-hand side of the pork roast.


6 cups of pomegranate juice
lemon (to taste)
sugar (to taste)


Mix all the ingredients into a pot. Remember, 6 cups of the juice only makes 1 - 1 1/2 cups of the reduction. If you need more of the reduction, you will of course need more of the juice itself. Heat the mixture until it becomes thick.

The pups were even willing to pose, for their Easter best! Rox-E is pictured in the first photo, followed by Smok-E, then Soph-E, with Coop-R munching away in the background. See how Rox-E's smiling? She was so excited to have her picture taken, and was very cooperative.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Italy v. America: Do you 'ration'?

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Italy v. America: The Differences Observed

Hot Water Heaters

What an odd discussion, I know. But I like to point out the smallest of differences between these two great countries. Here in the US, we, at least I don't, don't think much about using our hot water heaters. Are we taking it for granted? I'm not really sure. Here, I take boiling hot showers, many times lasting at max. twenty minutes long. It's a nice way to relax after a hard day at work, and relieve the muscle pains endured for standing for long hours. I work in a pharmacy, and we're required to stand the entire shift, except when we have our half an hour breaks.

In the summer of 2008, I once again had flown to Italy to visit my boyfriend. Even though it's summer, I still like to take my hot showers. Call me crazy, but for some reason, I just can't bare the cold water. Perhaps it's because the house manages to stay cool throughout the summer. Its concrete walls protecting us from the blistering heat at all times of day. It's not unusual for us to still use a comforter during the night. Although during my first stay in Urbino, I'd have to admit it was quite stifling in the collegi. Temperatures soared well into the 90s indoors, and we frequented the showers to cool off at least three to four times a day. The only slight comfort my friends and I had during our stay were the fans we had bought in town, which obviously only pushed around the hot air in the room. Later we resorted to camping out on the terrazza, and being scolded by the cleaning ladies. Apparently, it's prohibited to haul your mattresses and sheets outside. Where's the signage though, ladies?

My boyfriend's house is fortunate to have one of those 'endless hot water' tanks installed, but this luxury is not found throughout Italy. His parents' house and his brother's house do not possess such a commodity, and everyone who wishes to use the hot water has to 'ration' the water, if you will. My first visit to Apricena, the hometown of my boyfriend which is located in the province of Foggia in the region of Puglia, and also where we visit his family, was quite an embarrassment. It was during the Festa della Madonna, and the whole house wanted to shower before we went out for the evening. Little did I know, his parents possess the aforementioned little hot water heater. You know, those ones that you usually see on TV hanging from the wall in the kitchen. My shower was not long, and only lasted ten minutes, but within those few minutes, I had managed to use all the hot water in the house. My boyfriend came to me and said, "Catherine, you used up all the hot water!" Well, how was I supposed to know that the hot water tank holds two milliliters of water?! (That's an exaggeration of course.) I later learned that I would have to switch between hot and cold. Not only is there little water, but using it is expensive. At my boyfriend's house, when I come to visit, we manage to spend 50 euros a month. That may not seem much, but remember it's just the two of us, and that's equivalent to $67. It's about the same amount as my family of four spends for our water bill in one month here in the US.

Last year when we visited his brother and his brother's girlfriend in Bologna, we took our showers later in the evening. I 'rationed' my hot water, switching between hot and cold. After drying up and getting dressed, I came out into the sitting room to join everyone else. The girlfriend went into the kitchen to check the hot water and exclaimed, "you both could have used the hot water. You barely used any."

I give up!

Do you 'ration'?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: Urbino

Driving past sunflower-covered fields, you feel as though you have stepped into a fairy tale. Upon seeing the monstrous Palazzo ducale, it's as if you've stepped back in time too. Nestled in the Apennines of Le Marche region is a small Renaissance town, Urbino. Its the birthplace of Raffaello Carboni, who was born in 1817, and was one of the revolutionists and a writer during his time, dedicated to Italian nationalism and freeing Italy from the grips of Austrian rule. Visitors can visit his family's home, which has been turned into a museum. It is also well-known for its main attraction, and first ever, Palazzo ducale, or the Ducal Palace, which housed Federico da Montefeltro III, who was duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482. The little town houses the Universita' di Urbino, which has a constant international flow of students. I've found that upon mentioning Urbino as where I've studied abraod, few Americans have heard of this treasure, although it is quite important to the history of Italy. It flourished during the Renaissance during the 15th century, attracting scholars and artists from Italy and around the world. Due to its richness in both cultural and historical aspects, it has since become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unlike its rival, Florence, you should know some Italian in order to get around. I've found that most of those who live in town do not speak English, like in Florence, and if they do, it's quite limited. Studying in Urbino, or even just visiting, is a great way to practice your Italian, if you're looking to perfect it.

Learn all about Urbino in this month's Off the Beaten Trail, from cafes to the night hot spots for those living in town to la Festa del duca. The town is even building a brand new mall just outside the main walls. It's also just an hour bus ride away from Pesaro, one of Le Marche beach towns, and Urbino is a perfect base for exploring the region. A one-way bus ride just costs 2 euros!

Piazza della Repubblica

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Citizenship Saturday: The Quest for the Apostille

So you're applying for dual citizenship, and you've got some questions. Well, you've come to the right place! A critical part for applying for dual citizenship is the apostille. Without the apostille, you would not be able to use your documents internationally. At this point you can either close the little 'x' box to this web page, or continue to read if you're interested and need help with the application process.

What is an apostille, and why is it important?

An apostille is the final step in verifying the authenticity of a document which will be used for international purposes, such as dual citizenship.

How does one acquire an apostille?

There are actually a total of four steps in receiving an apostille for your document, and I've outlined them and provided information on how to start the process. Most of my experience is from dealing with New York City. All of my documents, except for my great-great grandparents birth and marriage and my grandmother's death certificate, are coming out of the city. Please stay tuned at a later date for information on applying through Massachusetts, which is where my grandmother passed away.

Step 1: Procure your document. Those of you who may already have all the documents are lucky, and are one step ahead. However, if you don't have a certain document, google 'Department of Health' and your state. Since mine is through New York City, which differs from New York State, I will use it as my example. You can access the page by clicking here.

Say for example, you want to get a birth certificate. Click on the link 'Birth Certificate Information' in the right-hand side bar. You can apply in three ways: (a) online, (b) by mail, or (c) in-person. I have been applying for most of my documents online and faxing in all the information they require in order to verify who you say you are. But, it can sometimes be helpful to go in-person if you have the time. Please note that it is also more and more difficult to procure documents the further you go back in your family tree. It takes fifty years for a death certificate to become a public record, therefore New York City makes it difficult for people, including family members to obtain such documents. For birth certificates, it takes seventy-five years for it to become a public record. If possible, it is best for the person whose name is on the document to apply for it. If this is not an option, your next best bet is to have the child of said person apply.

While applying for your document, you should request a 'Letter of Exemplification' in order to save time and have two steps accomplished in one step.

Step 2: If you have the document already, but don't have a  'Letter of Exemplification', you can simply mail the document and a money order to the Vital Records office. The 'Letter of Exemplification' will accompany your document in order to receive an apostille. The letter basically says that the person who signs the document in the office has identified the document as a true copy of the original. The letter is then stamped with a seal, and both are mailed back to you. Be sure to check with the Vital Records office as to how much this process costs. Prices can be found online or you can call the office itself.

Step 3: After receiving the certificate and the letter in the mail, your document is now ready to be sent to the County Clerk's office to be notarized. Make sure you send both the certificate AND the 'Letter of Exemplification'. The notary then determines if the signature is a true signature or false. Upon the authentication of the signature, it is notarized. Currently, the price for notarization is $4. The county clerk's address is shown below at the bottom of this post.

Step 4: Your document can now be sent to the Department of State for its apostille. The cost, as of now, is $10, and must be received as a money order. In this step, anything the county clerk's office has sent you, plus the certificate and letter of exemplification must be sent to this office.

Yesterday I sent out four of my documents to be notarized. I will be sure to keep you informed as to how long it took for me to get the documents back.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail at I am at no means an expert on the process, however, I will try my best to answer your questions if you have any. If you are seeking more information, please visit the Italian Dual Citizenship Message Board. There are hundreds of applicants who post on this forum to give details on personal experience, as well as provid valuable information about the process. Please also feel free to share any information if you feel it could be helpful for another applicant.

County Clerk's Office:

The New York County Clerk
60 Centre Street, Notary Division
New York, New York 10007

For an apostille:

NYS Dept. of State
123 Williams Street
New York, NY 10038

You can also contact the Department of State at (212) 417-5801

Please stay tuned for next week's 'Do I Qualify?'

Note: This process applies only to New York City. Please check the government posted website of your state in order to follow the correct procedures for obtaining an apostille.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Love Thursday: April Showers Bring...

May flowers! Spring has finally sprung and my mother's crocuses are blooming in the garden. It's yet another month - time is really flying by! It seemed like just yesterday we were preparing for New Year's.... Actually it seems like only yesterday I was coming off the plane from one of my trips to Italy to see my beau. Ah, yes, my beau! I haven't really gone much into detail about our relationship, and there will probably never be too much detail about us, however, I would like to tell you about how we met. What can I say? Love is in the air right now, and I'm feeling a bit sentimental.

It was the summer of 2007. Two of my friends and I decided to throw a surprise birthday "party" for another friend. It wasn't actually a party, but a big get together of the other students and friends to have a birthday cake and a toast of champagne. We had held it at the bar.

 My friends and me (I'm the one on the left!)

For those of you who don't know, cafes are called bar, in Italy, and is not to be confused with the bars we have here in the States. Il bar also sells alcoholic beverages, but are more known for their coffee, pastries, and the like. Il pub is what we refer to as the bar here in the States. They sell alcoholic beverages, but no pastries or coffee. Later on, we all took a passeggiata, a walk, into the centro, town center. We walked down the little street that leads to the walls surrounding the Palazzo ducale. There, the Italians showed us that if one person stands at one end of the wall, and another person at the other end, and whisper into the wall, you can hear one another.

 Us at the wall

The rest of the night was spent at the pub, and we returned rather late back to i collegi, the dorms. After the late night out, we all wound up waking up at twelve in the afternoon. We all met up in our pajamas out on the terrazza, terrace, enjoying the hot sun beating down on our skin. We didn't mind being outside in our pajamas. No one could see us from way up here on the hillside. Until he showed up. He came out onto the terrazza, and began talking to one of my friends. The only American he happened to know. I dreamily watched him as he talked to her. Later in the day, as my friend and I were leaving the mensa, cafeteria, he handed us a flyer, titled "Study a Broad". Ha! It was an invitation to karaoke at one of the other pubs in town. It's such a small town that there are perhaps only four. If there are even that many. I called it the bookstore by day, bar by night. During the day, it was lined with portable shelves that were rolled away at night, and turned into a bar. We agreed to come and check it out.

the mensa

That night we all prepared to get ready in the communal bathroom. Each blocco, block, contains two floors of individual rooms. In the center of each two sets of blocks is a shared bathroom, consisting of four bathroom stalls, four shower stalls, and mirrors with sinks on either end of the bathroom. Not really the ideal set up, but it wasn't all that bad. Just be sure to wear flip flops in the shower stalls! Finally, after an hour to two hours of everyone finally being ready, between changing outfits a gazillion times; getting your hair just right; and helping with make-up, we set out. We were enjoying our time, slowly getting into the mood of things. One of my friends and I were clowning around with dancing. At one point during the night, he came up to me, and introduced himself, Angelo, explaining he wanted to know my name. I don't exactly remember if we were speaking in English or in Italian, but we had no trouble understanding one another. Why does this matter? At the time I didn't speak much Italian. It was almost impossible for our new Italian friends to talk to me. They didn't speak English, and neither did Angelo. Only a few simple sentences. We danced together that night, and he offered my friend and I a ride back to the collegi.

 Us the night we decided to start seeing each other

Once we had decided to start seeing each other, girls pestered me nonstop not to see him. I even encountered an Italian woman who questioned why I would want to be with an Italian when I can be with an American. But I was already set on the idea of continuing to see him, even if in just a few weeks I would have to go back home. It lasted two years, but hopefully we'll be back together again soon once I've finally made my way to the other side of the pond. I still face questions as to why I would want to move to Italy. Well, why not? What is wrong with wanting to live abroad? While in Italy, I'm faced with the same question, and he is asked why are with an American, or, why don't you move to America? As one kind Apricenese man said to me, "those who are in Italy want to move to America, while those in America want to move to Italy."

Put simply - the heart wants what the heart wants.


Happy Love Thursday

Happy April

Have a great weekend and holiday!