I will not be exhaustive. I guess it wouldn’t be possible. My question is: what does it mean to be Italian?
Not that I ever felt Italian, actually. At least as long as I lived in the Country. At the time I loved to argue that, since the Treaty of Osimo was signed only in late 1975, I was not Italian by birth. My grand-grandmother became Italian citizen during the first occupation of the city, by fascist decree. And my grandfather had his name Italianized by law, in the same period. (However, I tend to forget that another grand-grandfather was a Sicilian officer of the occupying Italian Royal Army).
I did not know I was black
It didn’t really matter to me that I was speaking the language, holding the passport and supporting the national football team. Eventually I was not really able to identify any other Country I was belonging to. I guess it was a sentiment shared by most people born in the old Habsburgic city. Just I did not have any national feeling.
Then you move abroad, and people need to categorize you. Not really a problem in the US, where 20% of the population — in spite of have never been in the Country — claim to be Italian, by origin. However, in Sweden I soon discovered “to be Italian”. It reminded me so much of an interview to a guy born in Zaire, who said “I did not know that I was black, until I moved to Europe”.
North, close to Venice
The whole thing become a bit more complicated when from Sweden I moved to Japan. What was I? Italian. Where do you come from? Sweden. Confusing. When I applied for the Alien Registration Card I was asked if “Sweden is a city in North or South Italy”. — North, close to Venice, has been my answer.
So, am I Italian? Maybe I am. Mostly by others defining me as such. I just wonder if I really look like any of the guys in the Jersey Shore show.