Posts Tagged ‘Corleone’

 “New Year’s Day…now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” – Mark Twain

As far back as the Babylonians, human beings have been making resolutions for the new year.  The ancient Romans offered promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.  We are one week into 2012 and already 88% of us have broken our new year’s resolutions.  Statistically only 46% of us will keep our vows past the six month mark.  Honestly, I’ll be lucky if my annual reforms survive until mid-February. I’ve decided that the problem doesn’t necessarily lie with the failure of the “resolution-maker” as much as it rests on the aspirations themselves; no one really wants to keep a promise designed to squish the fun out of life.  It’s important to note that not all resolutions are created equal and therefore, it’s no wonder that travel is in the top five of the most popular items on everyone’s “bucket list” this year.

My Checklist to Paradise

Alright, so I am not the most adventurous traveler that ever lived.  It’s true that my recent explorations have been confined to movements within the borders of a country shaped like footwear.  I agree that it would be good for me to venture outside of my comfort zone – breaking free from the Umbrian ties that bind me.  To this end, on the top of my “2012 Travel List”  is “Make a pilgrimage to Sicily”.

Considering all the time I’ve spent in Italy these last 8 years, it’s shameful that I’ve never set foot on the island home of my ancestors or, for that matter, in the town of my grandfather’s birth.  Situated approximately 75 kilometers from Palermo is the city of Corleone, Italy.  Yes, that Corleone.  You can see why I’ve been putting it off – it’s an intimidating proposition.  Armed (no pun intended) with my documentation, photos of my Nonni and a list of Sicilian phraseology extracted from episodes of Commissario Montalbano, I plan to set out for the motherland and see who and what I discover.  I mean, what’s the worst that can happen…? Boh.

“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” — John Lennon

Before you know it, it will be 2013.  Go ahead and declare you independence from the mundane and take a break from the humdrum.  Pack your suitcase, grab your passport and head to the nearest airport.  Open your aperture for a wider view, cast-off the ball and chain of responsibility and get your Marco Polo on.  Listen to the advice of the winged goddess of Greek mythology Nike when she says to, “Just Do It”…tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…

This week Bootsnall is kicking off a new weekly event called the Indie Travel Challenge, that will last for all of 2012! Much like their 30 Days of Indie Travel project, Bootsnall invites bloggers from all over the world to participate.  This week’s prompt: Resolutions.
by Toni DeBella


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The letter from the Consolato Generale D’Italia a San Francisco arrived in the mail today. The words inside the envelope were a culmination of three long years of hard work and dogged determination: 31/08/11 Dear Ms. DeBella: “I am pleased to notify you that your Italian citizenship has been recognized and that your certificate(s) have been forwarded to the Italian municipality of CORLEONE (PA) for recording.”

Somehow I envisioned this auspicious occasion much differently. There were times when I wondered if this day would ever come. And if it did arrive, I imagined it would be filled with much fanfare, jumping up and down, and screaming. Instead it was a quiet moment. A solitary moment. A very personal moment. It was a time to reflect on what it took for me to get to this place: Patience, tenacity, belief, humor, and a clear intention. August 31, 2011 is the day I became a citizen of Italy.

Italian by Blood Jure sanguinis (“right of blood”) contrasts with jus soli (Latin: “right of soil”) in that citizenship is not determined by place of birth, but rather by having a parent (or decendent) who is a citizen of a nation. In Italy there’s no limit to the generations that can obtain citizenship via blood (except for specific constraints which did not apply to me). Furthermore, because the U.S. and Italy have a reciprocity agreement, one is allowed dual citizenship.

After tracking down my grandparents’ birth certificates (likely located in books archived in church basements of Corleone and Contessa Entellina), respectively, I gathered together some twenty other documents (i.e., birth, death, divorce) for both myself and members of my immediate family. Translations and Apostilles followed, along with a list of discrepancies and misspelled names (of which there were many). And don’t even get me started on the rabbit hole that is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security! This part  of the process took a little over a year to complete. Then there was the waiting period (one-and-a half years, to be exact) for an appointment to personally submit my application to the Italian Consulate.

The procedure was daunting, frustrating, and at times discouraging. When I felt like giving up, I thought about the finish line — life in Italy — which helped to spur me on. I suppose that if becoming a citizen of a country were easy, everyone would do it. You really have to want it!

The Gift

I Nonni DeBella, San Jose, California

Throughout these three years I’ve been fortunate to have the support and encouragement of friends and family, both in the U.S. and Italy. But it was my grandparents, Jake (Gioachino) DiBella and Emma (Ninfa) Pizzo, who deserve my utmost thanks and gratitude for without them none of this would be possible. In the late 1880s, they came to this country as young immigrants from Sicily. They married, worked hard, and raised a family of ten children. I wonder what they would have thought about their granddaughter one day returning to the land they left behind.

It appears that the DeBella family, in the not-too-distant future, is about to come full circle.

by Toni DeBella

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