Becoming an Italian citizen / 5

The Sportello Amico at my local post office wasn’t as ‘friendly’ as I’d hoped; the clerk on duty told me the service is not set up to dispense residency histories, and that in any case he had never managed to extract a certificate of any nature from the system.

So there was nothing for it but to jump in the car and head into Rome, to the registry office of the municipio where I was last resident. There I queued for just under an hour, and in the end I got what I needed.

At that point, completing the application was child’s play. I did get it in by lunchtime, after all.

It now remains to be seen how long the prefecture takes to process the request. By law it has a maximum of 730 days to accept or reject my application, after which I can claim my entitlement before a judge. But I trust it will not come to that.

Becoming an Italian citizen / 4

On Friday I collected my sworn translations (traduzioni giurate – apparently the only acceptable level of legalisation for citizenship applications in Italy) from an agency that curiously specialises in translations from Romanian to Italian, for the modest sum of €135,70… and so I was all set to make the on-line application – or so I thought!

I logged into the Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration (DLCI) section of the interior ministry website and clicked on Cittadinanza and then Compila e invia domanda in the left-hand menu bar.

I immediately ran into the first problem: deciding the grounds for my application, residency or marriage to an Italian.

By law as an EU citizen resident in Italy for at least four years (in my case 17) and married to an Italian for at least two I could have gone for either option, although I felt applying on grounds of residency (so-called ‘naturalisation’) better reflected the personal journey that has brought me to this point in the first place.

However, in the end pragmatism carried the day: citizenship through marriage is considered a right providing certain conditions are met, while ‘naturalisation’ is granted on a discretionary basis, so I plumped for the first option, reckoning it would be the quickest and easiest way to go.

And thank goodness I did: after clicking on the relevant application form I discovered that I would ‘only’ have to go through 17 steps, rather than 23!

However, it soon became clear that I would have to provide a lot more information than had been specified in the introductory section on the ministry website. Specifically, I was expected to give a full residency history, including dates, from the age of 14, and also my migration history with respect to Italy, including the details of my very old and fading green permesso di soggiorno (which I applied for in 1998 and had renewed indefinitely in 2003, and which miraculously I still have).

At step 15 I was asked to provide the details of a marca da bollo telematico (official revenue stamp) which had only been given passing mention in the introductory blurb, and which I had naively assumed to be the €200 application fee (see Becoming an Italian citizen / 1) – but no! The instructions manual that accompanies the on-line application form shed no light on the problem, and it was only by searching on internet that I discovered I also needed to buy a separate revenue stamp for €16.

At that point I gave up in frustration.

The following morning I went to the Monterotondo registry office to see if I could access my residency history for Italy. I naively hoped my local public administration might ‘talk’ to the one in Rome, where I was resident at no fewer than three (possibly five – who can remember?) different addresses over the course of 11 years. Of course it does not. The clerk told me smugly that he could give me the information for Monterotondo, but that for my Rome residency history I would have to go to the central registry office in Rome. Ugh.

So I then set about exploring the possibility of accessing the information on-line, via the Roma Capitale website. Having established that residency history is indeed among the certificates available on internet I applied for the official credentials needed to log into the system, only then to discover that the service is available exclusively to people who are resident in Rome.

Not to be fazed (17 years in Italy must surely count for something!), I called Poste italiane to see if their Sportello Amico service designed to simplify dealings with the public administration might provide such a certificate. Apparently, it does!

So tomorrow I will go to the post office first thing in a final bid to avoid the traipse into Rome.

If I am successful, I may even get my application in by lunchtime!

My only consolation is that had I made the application on grounds of naturalisation I would also have had to provide a record of my declared personal income and that of my husband for the last three years, as well as details of property ownership in Italy and the UK.

For Becoming an Italian citizen / 1 click here

For Becoming an Italian citizen / 2 click here

For Becoming an Italian citizen / 3 click here

Angelo Vassallo, the fisherman-mayor

Italy is full of unsung heroes, ordinary people who do extraordinary things and pay for it dearly, often with their life.

Il sindaco pescatore – the fisherman-mayor – is one of these.

Angelo Vassallo, a fisherman by trade, was elected mayor of the struggling coastal municipality of Pollica in the beautiful Cilento area south of Naples in 1995. At that time the local environment was in a state of degradation as a result of pollution and building speculation and the economy was in ruins.

During three successive mandates Vassallo turned the town around with intransigence and determination, making the pursuit of legality and defence of the environment his guiding principles.

He activated the abandoned local water purification system, organised an efficient local rubbish recycling scheme, created pedestrian areas and introduced hefty fines for dropping cigarette butts, among other things.

Slowly, tourists started to return to the area, the municipality won the prestigious international Blue Flag eco-label and national Legambiente ‘5 Vele’ award and the economy flourished.

Meanwhile, Vassallo’s administration became a model of good governance all over the world.

However, the influx of money and tourists into the area brought with it other problems, most notably drugs. And, like all other problems, the fisherman-mayor faced this one head on. This may have been his undoing.

In March 2010 Vassallo was elected to a fourth mandate with 100% of the vote. The following September while driving home one evening he was gunned down.

Four years later, in February 2014 an Italian gangster named Bruno Humberto Damiani was stopped at Bogota’ airport on an international arrest warrant for drug pushing in the Cilento area.

Police said the suspect, who was alleged to have connections with the Camorra operating in Naples’ Scampia neighbourhood, met with representatives of a family of hoteliers and criminals just hours before the fisherman-mayor was riddled with bullets.

Last month prosecutors opened investigations into a further three people in connection with the assassination.

The four suspects are all being probed for aggravated complicity in murder.

Vassallo’s story came to my attention by chance a few weeks ago, when I learned that pupils at a primary school here in Monterotondo are doing project work inspired by him.

While the Vassallo family, the community of Pollica and Italy as a whole wait for justice to be served, this surely has to be a fitting tribute to his memory.

Becoming an Italian citizen / 3

Amazing!

My legalized birth certificate and police certificate were delivered by DHL courier at 12.21 today.

Next step: to have the documents translated into Italian and the translations legalized via an agency in Rome

(There is still a doubt in my mind about the level of legalization I need; on the interior ministry website it says ‘traduzione legalizzata’,  while the translation agency insists that I need a ‘traduzione giurata’, and says they aren’t the same thing. I’ll have to sort it out when I take the documents in…)

It remains to be seen whether the Italian civil service will be as efficient as the civil service in the UK.

Certainly in the process of gathering the documents needed to apply for Italian citizenship I have been at a big advantage compared to people who come from countries where the civil service functions less well.

For Becoming an Italian citizen / 1 click here

For Becoming an Italian citizen / 2 click here

New murderous attacks against women rock Italy

There seems to be no let-up in the litany of murderous violence in Italy perpetrated against women by their current or former partners. Three horrible incidents in less than two days. One woman, 38, is fighting for her life in a Naples burns unit after being set fire to by her partner outside their Pozzuoli home. The couple’s child, delivered at 34 weeks by C-section after the woman was admitted to hospital on Monday, is reportedly doing OK. In Catania a 41-year-old woman was strangled by her ex after a row allegedly over the management of their four-year-old son. And in Brescia a woman, 56, was stabbed to death by her husband, reportedly also after a fight. The man then killed himself by deliberately driving the wrong way down a motorway.

Here is the link to my round-up for Ansa

Becoming an Italian citizen / 2

My police certificate arrived by post on Friday, exactly 18 days after I made the on-line application to the ACRO criminal records office in the first step towards becoming an Italian citizen (see Becoming an Italian citizen / 1).

Much to my relief the certificate did carry an official signature of sorts, so I was able to proceed with the next step of having this document and my birth certificate legalised.

This involved sending the two certificates together with a completed legalisation application form (downloadable from the gov.uk website), a blank A4-sized envelope and confirmation of payment (£30 per document plus £14.50 to have the documents returned by courier) to the Legalisation Office of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Milton Keynes.

The documents went into the post this morning and the application should take 48 hours to process, so with any luck I should have them safely back by early next week.

In the meantime I now need to investigate appropriate certified translation services in readiness for the third step towards becoming an Italian citizen.

For Becoming an Italian citizen / 1 click here

For Becoming an Italian citizen / 3 click here