ROME, ITALY SEPTEMBER 26, 2003 -- Back to the Ufficio Matrimoni again, this time with our interpreter Dora, a friend from Massachusetts who was born and reared in Rome. Our 11:45 appointment for the wedding ceremony on Monday, which was rescheduled for 11:30, is now scheduled for 12:00 noon, on Monday, September 29. Everything appears to be in order.

So, perhaps Italian bureaucracy is not so crazy after all. At least it is not like the State of Michigan, which took three months and a court order to send me my birth certificate.


In Boston on the phone with the idiots who run the office of Vital Records in Lansing I kept thinking to myself, "This is why I left Michigan!" Michigan authorities would not send me my birth certificate because the name on my identity papers was different than my name at birth. I had changed my name in Michigan in 1989 and the State of Michigan issued a new drivers license reflecting the name change and the U.S. State Department gave me a passport with the new name. Now Michigan repudiates the change and says I must go to court and change it again!

So, off to Suffolk Superior Court to get a name change in Massachusetts. The Assistant Register of Probate in Boston is confused. She questions me: "Why do you want to change your name in Massachusetts? You don't have to do this; you have all the documentation to prove that you already did this in Michigan in 1989 and we accept the acts of the State of Michigan." My lawyer in response: "Yes, Massachusetts accepts the action of Michigan but Michigan claims that they can not accept it. But they will (under the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. constitution) recognize the name change if my client does it again in Massachusetts. Otherwise they won't give him his birth certificate so he can marry."

The judge in Massachusetts waived the usual 30 day waiting period and notice requirements and ordered the name change on the spot. By paying Lansing extra for expedited service I was able to get a birth certificate from Michigan in only an additional six weeks.

Mary was born in Massachusetts and was able to get her birth certificate in one day. Again I remembered why I left Michigan and made my home in the Bay State.


So here we are in Rome three days before our scheduled wedding date. Our American documents had recieved the Apostille that made them legally acceptable internationally and had been translated by the Italian Consulate in Boston. In Boston we also obtained the Atto Notorio to marry in Italy. My name change is no longer a problem. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the U.S. Department of State, the Republic of Italy, even the State of Michigan now accepts that I am who I am. Now at this late date, the Ufficio Matrimoni questions Mary's documents!

How Mary's grandfather spelled his name in Naples, Italy, before he came to Lawrence Massachusetts, no one knows. His descendents have variously used Di Zazzo, DiZazzo, and Dizazzo. Mary's passport shows Di Zazzo; her birth certificate, DiZazzo, which is what she uses. The Italian Consulate in Boston did not notice or thought immaterial this difference. No so in Italy, where those are two different names!

Dora explains that in America there is no difference and points to the Atto Notorio executed by the Italian authorities at the Consulate. OK, we can proceed to sign. Mary, be sure to connect the "i" and the "z" in your name everytime you sign papers here in Italy -- leave a gap and we are not married! Mama mia!

More to come in part 3. --David