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.