My Own Italian Castle: The Hunt for a Second Passport

My Own Italian Castle The Hunt for a Second Passport

The other day, my youngest daughter messaged me and said, "Mom, today in my business meeting, we had to share a fun fact about ourselves. I told everyone I just became a dual citizen and received my Irish passport! How cool is that?"

A few years ago, I discovered that my kids were entitled to Irish passports. Turns out they had the right to Irish citizenship, by dint of their father being an Irish citizen, born in Ireland. We were so excited to learn this, and finally began the process of applying for their passports this summer.

It was ridiculously simple—they needed to submit their dad's birth certificate showing he was born on the Emerald Isle, their own birth certificate, and a few other simple documents. We applied online, uploaded a photo and mailed in the original documents requested…and then we waited.

The turnaround time was amazingly quick. Within eight or nine weeks, the coveted maroon passports arrived—with the original documents returned separately and also quickly.

I do hear that, since Britain elected to leave the EU the turnaround takes longer now due to demand caused by so many Britons applying for Irish—and thus European—passports.

The European passport is among the most powerful in the world. The beauty of the EU passport is that not only does it give you citizenship in the country in which you applied (Ireland in this case) it also gives you EU citizenship. This gives you the right to live, work, attend school and enjoy life in almost all of the EU member states.

You can stay in the EU well beyond the 90 days allowed by the regular Schengen tourist visa. It's like having the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket!

Well, that was a lucky break for my kids…but what about me? Even though we had been married for over 30 years and living in the U.S., I was not entitled to Irish citizenship through marriage—we would have had to live in Ireland together for a few years to qualify. (Wish I had known that—I would definitely have enjoyed living there for a few years!)

I'm not one to give up easily, so I started researching and digging around. I have ancestry that includes Polish, Italian and Austrian roots—would any of those lead me to a passport? The answer was yes: Italy!

If you can meet the very specific requirements and conditions, you have the right to citizenship and can apply for an Italian passport because of jure sanguinis (which means "right of blood" in Latin) and qualify "by descent."

There are many criteria and specific date sequences that will qualify (or disqualify) you from claiming an Italian passport this way. And you'll need to gather the necessary documents from near and far to show unbroken lineage and prove that the right to Italian citizenship was indeed bestowed to and inherited by you to be eligible.

Guide to Visa and Residency in Italy

In the summer of 2021, I took a trip to Italy to visit my two ancestral villages, Sant' Arsenio and Teggiano, both in the province of Salerno. Located approximately 150 km (92 miles) south of Naples, the two villages have an abundance of families with the same surnames as my great-grandparents.

In fact, there's a castle with my great-grandfather's last name. (So, by my estimation, it's my castle, right?) Currently being run as a bed and breakfast and hosting weddings and events, I booked a few nights in the ancient castle, in a lovely room with stone walls and a cozy fireplace, with a panoramic view of my familial village below. I truly felt like a princess, returning home to my castle after centuries!

Cindy standing in front of the castle that bears her name in Salerno, Italy.
Cindy standing in front of the castle that bears her name in Salerno, Italy.

In the morning, I visited the town hall to see if they had the original birth certificate of my great-grandfather Vincenzo, since I will need it for the application for citizenship. Alas, it was not to be found—I'll need to contact other resources so I can prove jure sanguinis and become an Italian citizen.

The search continues. But so far, it's lead me to two beautiful towns and my own castle, so I'm not complaining.

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