Thursday, June 12, 2014

From a hilltop village in Italy to a Vespa in DC: a SAIS student's tale

SAIS Europe students connect with Italy in many different ways. Aaron Badway studied in Bologna this past year and will be at SAIS DC starting in August. He pushed his roots more deeply into Italy. Read on to find out how.

This entire process started way back in 2011. I was working with an investment bank in Milan but was forced to leave when my visa expired. My great-grandfather had emigrated to the U.S. but never renounced his rights, so I was eligible to apply for dual citizenship.

Aaron Badway with his Italian identity card
Except that I needed to find his birth certificate from 1891. And his marriage certificate from a hilltop town, Arquata del Tronto, in the middle of nowhere in the Le Marche region. And his certificate of naturalization from Ellis Island.

After about a year of collecting documents, I went to the Italian Consulate in Philadelphia where the nice lady said, "Oh, tutto a posto, non si preoccupi. We will send all of these to Italy right away."

A year and a half later, no response. I figured while at SAIS Europe in Bologna I would find it easier to just go to Arquata del Tronto myself. This worked only because SAIS Europe had hired the most helpful woman in the world in receptionist Raffaella Besola. She called the comune around 20 times, maneuvered her way around the Italian bureaucracy and charmed them into speeding up the process.

It took me two days to get to Arquata, where maybe ten people live, but I was finally able to pick up the carta d'identità. Before I left, the mayor pulled out this huge book. In it, he showed me the hand-written registration of my great-grandfather's birth, penned by his parents -- my great-great-grandparents -- in 1891. Absolutely crazy!

It was a long process but completely worth it. Being Italian opens up an entire continent of possibilities for me and is the reason I am able to do a summer internship right now in Romania.

The main reason for all of this, though, is really because I want to drive a Vespa in DC next year. The only way that this can be justified in any way is if I am carrying an Italian passport.


Nicholas said...

That's a great story, and I can relate, as I've looked into acquiring Italian citizenship through my great-grandfather as well. I stalled out in the process because of the challenges of tracking down documents, and the stories I've heard about the endless bureaucracy and potentially years-long waiting period. It seems from this story that you sorted it all out while in Bologna. Did it take you less than a year?

Aaron Badway said...

Hi Nicholas, send me an email at and I can detail the process for you. It will take some time, but it can be done!

Mariano Pallottini said...

Hello Aaron, I collaborate with, our magazine is about Le Marche and we would like to tell your story to our readers. We would like to publish photos of you, your Grandfather, your family, your life in US. We would like to be updated with your Passport application trail and your planned trip by Vespa.
Please consider to start to send us material to publish. Write in english because soon we will start to publish in this language. We will also to publish in our free press paper magazine distributed in all ASCOLI PICENO PROVINCE in 25.000 copies.
I wait your reply
Best Regards