Becoming Italian Part 5: Approaching the Finish Line. . .

I pulled the pile of papers off the bookshelf then opened my computer to the page that listed the requirements.  My heart pounded in my chest as I made a checklist. I had done all the work, and now I just wanted to check once more that I had everything I needed all in one place. But my heart wouldn’t stop racing.

I waded through the pile of marriage certificates, birth certificates and death certificates. In less than one week I would be handing them all over to the Italian Consulate in New York City. Two years of hard work finally out of my hands. I hoped.

“Your goal is for them to take your application,” the consultant told me. “They may send you home with some homework, but if they keep your application, you’re good.”

Every document had a New York State Apostille as its cover page–a heavy paper with the seal of the great state of New York on it. Looking at the 12 documents spread across my floor you’d have no idea which was which without picking it up and lifting that cover page. So I wrote a post-it for each one to easily identify them.

“Luigi and Anna — Marriage.”


“Lou & Jean–Marriage.”


I matched the Italian translations to each document, then slid them all into a manila envelope.

And still, my heart raced. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt that sensation in my chest.

Also required (and now in that same envelope) were:

  • my passport and driver’s license (and a copy of each),
  • four different forms (one with my father’s notarized signature, the rest to be signed by me in front of the consular officer)
  • and the letter that started it all: the one that confirmed that my great-grandfather, Luigi Gallo, never became a naturalized U.S. Citizen. Ergo, his descendants are eligible to become Italian citizens.

Now all I had to do was present the nearly twenty documents that proved my relationship to this man I never knew. This man my father and my grandfather never knew. This man who came over to the United States, married, bore three children, and died in the hospital after a dynamite explosion when his oldest child, my grandfather, was just three years old.

There were so many stories in those documents. And so many more I would never know.

The next time I looked at those documents I was sitting in the office of the Italian Consulate, the sensation in my chest rising yet again. . .

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