Getting Here and There

Genealogy is a hobby for many people, an obsession for others, and sometimes both. Everyone has their own reasons for taking it on. Aside from attempting to satisfy one’s own curiosity, many do it to honor their past or just to discover it. One thing I’ve learned, you’ve got to love a challenge!

My curiosity became piqued after stumbling upon a carton of old pictures and “ancient” family documents after my mother’s passing. My parents’ birth and baptismal certificates, nearly a century old, gave few clues to four grandparents — three of whom I never met and one who passed away around the time I began to walk. Ellis Island databases provided a few leads and several misleads. Soon it was time for the big guns. confirmed my suspicions: the road to grandma and grandpa had more forks than the silverware drawer at the White House.

Tired and defeated, I took a genealogy leave for a while vowing to return to it another day when I had the wherewithal to decipher which of the numerous Paolo Capotostos in the search results was my maternal grandfather and which among the pile of digital documents belonged to him.

My leave came to an abrupt end in 2007, a few weeks after I returned from celebrating my 50th birthday in Rome with my son.* Cooing over all the details of my trip with my favorite Italian friend, Dan understood my love affair with bellying up to the coffee bar, ordering un cappuccino e quel dolce con creme. And then debating over the number of times it was acceptable to belly up to same in a given day…

I digress. Dan, a first generation Italian American, suggested I get my Italian dual citizenship. As I, along with my parents, were born on U.S. soil, I had no idea this was even an option. But thanks to jure sanguinis (law of blood), all I needed to do is provide a little proof.

OK, maybe not so little. If you could find your way through the ifs, ands, or buts, you were on your way to an Italian Dual Citizenship.

Let the games begin!

*NB: Celebrating your 50th birthday in a place where everything is way older than you are, takes the edge off. Italy more than filled the bill. 😉

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In the opening scene of the 2000 film Bread and Tulips, a tour guide leads his group to the Temple of Ceres in Campania, Italy. Con passione, he proclaims:

In the year 273 B.C. when the Romans came here and encountered the Greeks for the first time, history took a huge leap forward. What do I mean by that? Greek idealism, a civilization of music and philosophy, [and] Roman pragmatism, a civilization of law and rationality, blended perfectly to create a new culture that forms the basis of Western civilization of which we Italians, the greatest people on earth, should be the proud heirs. Our blood contains the genes of Greeks and Romans, the greatest civilizations of all time. These genes are what urge you to leave the train of rationality in the main station of your town, for the ship of imagination, to sail the route of ancient peoples and drink to their enthusiasm.

This blog is dedicated to my four grandparents, each of whom immigrated to the United States between 1898 and 1908. It will outline my own adventures in genealogy as I try to understand each of their bold adventures and trace my family’s bloodline.

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