Growing up in Chicago, Juliana Calistri was surrounded by all things Italian: music, food and language. Ms. Calistri’s grandparents were raised in Bagni di Lucca, Italy, and though her father was born in Chicago, he spoke Italian before he spoke English.
“If you ask me to bake, I’m going to make biscotti and lemon knots, not chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies,” Ms. Calistri, 46, said from her home in Nashville. “Being Italian has always been my identity.”
Ms. Calistri, a claims advocate for a brokerage firm, always wanted to live abroad, but thought gaining Italian citizenship would be impossible. According to Italian laws, women could only pass their citizenship to their children after 1948, when Italy’s current constitution came into effect. Ms. Calistri’s father was born in 1947, so he did not inherit citizenship from his mother. His father gave his Italian citizenship up when he was naturalized in the United States.
In May, Ms. Calistri began working with a life coach, who pushed her to look up the laws again. Ms. Calistri discovered that since a landmark ruling was made in 2009, people have been contesting the 1948 maternal lineage law in court, and winning.