Before you can start requesting records from Italy for your Italian dual citizenship application, it’s important to learn how Italy is structured.
Knowing at which level of government you can find certain records is a huge help before starting to make your requests. Thus, once you know the place to go, you don’t have to waste time knocking on the wrong doors.
Italy is divided as follows, from largest government structure to smallest:
Italy is so famous for fashion that it shaped itself into a boot!
The good news is that Italy is really recognizable on a map. The bad news is that you cannot find any of the records you need at the country level.
Keep going and don’t focus your efforts on a country-level search when requesting records from Italy.
Currently, Italy is divided into 20 regions. Five of these regions enjoy special status, allowing them some legislative, administrative, and financial power to a varying extent depending on their specific statute.
These 5 regions became autonomous to take into account cultural differences and to protect linguistic minorities, but also as an effort on the government’s behalf to prevent them from leaving Italy after WW2.
The 20 regions of Italy are, in alphabetical order:
- Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta)*
- Apulia (Puglia)
- Lombardy (Lombardia)
- Piedmont (Piemonte)
- Sardinia (Sardegna)*
- Sicily (Sicilia)*
- Trentino-South Tyrol (Trentino-Alto Adige)*
- Tuscany (Toscana)
* = Special autonomous regions
On the map, the five autonomous regions are located as follows:
Each region of Italy has an elected parliament called the Consiglio regionale or regional council, or an Assemblea regionale in Sicily, as well as a Giunta regional (regional committee) headed by a governor called a Presidente della giunta regionale (president of the regional committee) or a Presidente della regione (regional president). The regional president is directly elected by the citizens of each region, except for Aosta Valley and Trentino-South Tyrol where he is chosen by the regional council.
Most often this is where our knowledge about our ancestors stops, unless we’ve done some genealogical research. We might know that our great grandparents were from Abruzzo, but not exactly where.
A few regions hold some civil records, but not many. I’ll talk about these in another blog post.
After the region level, the next level of government is the province. There are approximately 110 regions in Italy (depending on who you ask!).
Provinces can sometimes change in Italy (not without some degree of controversy).
Here is a list of all provinces:
There are some records held at the province level. The most helpful of these is the Registro di leval or the military conscription record.
I have seen many registro di leva records and admittedly, they’re pretty cool! They are also a wealth of helpful genealogical information.
One step down from the province is the comune or municipality. There are over 8,000 of them in Italy!
At the comune level is where you will find most of the records you need. These include birth, marriage, death, and stato di famiglia records.
Since there are so many comuni(plural of comune) in Italy, you need to have a very good idea of where your ancestor was actually from before making the requests.
In order to successfully request the documents you need, you will need at least your ancestor’s full name, date (or year) of birth, and place of birth.