Hannah Wilson: Why I’m applying for Italian citizenship

Charity worker Hannah Wilson explains how she's trying to secure her future in Europe post-Brexit

IRISH grannies are in high demand these days, with the post-Brexit surge in Irish citizenship applications well-documented. For me, it’s my Italian granny, my Nonna, who holds the keys to Europe.

Now, my hair colour has been described as "Caledonian blonde", and most of my holidays in Italy are spent ducking from one shady spot to the next to protect my definitely-not-sunproof Glasgow skin. My Italian is rough, and my little cousins do dramatic hand gestures of frustration when they realise I can’t understand them (I am, however, fluent in Italian hand-talking). Sometimes I grate parmesan over seafood pasta - the horror.

But despite my complete inability to blend in back in the motherland, if all goes well I should have Italian dual citizenship by descent within the next few months. Things are uncertain at the moment and, yes, it is a bit of a kneejerk reaction. 

Apart from avoiding the dreaded 'all other passports' queue in airports, I truly value the right to travel, work, and settle in Europe’s varied lands. If someone offers me my dream job, I want to be able to take it with as little red tape as possible. 

There are a few valid scenarios where Scotland could remain in the EU, and in that case the newly double-passported might regret the Euros spent sending away for copies of certificates. Incidentally, requesting copies of Italian documents has gotten a fair bit more expensive since the pound crashed, but I digress.

The implications of Brexit are unclear on so many levels that we as citizens cannot control, and probably can’t fully fathom. Will Brie get more expensive? Is it the end of cheap flights to Europe? Will Niall Horan be the only member of 1D who doesn’t need a work visa to tour Europe? We just don’t know.

In the face of so much uncertainty, and of so much possibly being lost – from EU workers’ rights legislation to the European Social Fund money that supports many of our charities – all a European passport can really do is protect my freedom of movement. 

Apart from avoiding the dreaded 'all other passports' queue in airports, I truly value the right to travel, work, and settle in Europe’s varied lands. If someone offers me my dream job (owner of small bookshop/fried snack outlet in non-specific sun-dappled European lane, if anyone’s hiring), I want to be able to take it with as little red tape as possible. 

An Italian passport would let me do that, whether the job is in Rome or Riga. We all have potential future lives that we may or may not live out, and I’m not willing to close the door on a life outwith this island just yet.

An Italian passport would let me do that, whether the job is in Rome or Riga. We all have potential future lives that we may or may not live out, and I’m not willing to close the door on a life outwith this island just yet.

Aside from the practical implications though, trawling through the bag of birth, marriage and death certificates in my Nonna’s house is effectively a political statement. It’s a statement against the isolationist xenophobia that, although not a feature of the whole Leave campaign, definitely coloured its darker moments. 

It’s a statement of belief in the values that underpinned the EU’s creation, of the hope that a shared identity could unite us in peace.

As the amount of grannies from Italy, Ireland and beyond attest to – we all come from somewhere else, and getting the certificates to prove it is a potentially useful consolation prize for those of us who voted to remain in the EU.

Picture courtesy of Antonio

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