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The Afro-Latina Who Saved an Italian Family From Extinction

[Disclaimer: The title is a little misleading]



The future of the Turck family name on the streets of Rome, Italy. 2019.

My Lion is an Italian from the Bronx. Actually, he’s of mixed heritage. His mama is 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Irish. His father is Italian.


On our wedding day, right after we said “I do” and we kissed to become one, I was instantly struck with the realization that I was the only Turck woman left in my new husband’s family’s line of descendants. I even said to my father in law: “Do you realize that I’m now the only Turck woman?” He looked at me weird. I’m not even entirely sure he heard me.


But anyway, check this out. My father in law was one of 2 sons born to his parents (his brother died in early childhood). My father in law, in turn, had 2 sons. His oldest son, my brother in law, is team ‘No Kids’. His youngest son, my husband, wasn’t sure if he was going to have kids... until he met me, the Black Puerto Rican woman from Queens who declared “I’m gonna marry you and we’re gonna have 10 kids”.

After having that epiphany on my wedding day, I knew without any doubt that we would have a son who would be the one to carry on the family name. We got married on September 7, 2016. Zion, our son was born 11 months later on August 16th.

Now he is the future of the family.

And now the Italian Torchiaro line is 3/8 Italian, 1/8 Irish, 1/4 African American, 1/4 Puerto Rican.


Mother & Son, Italy 2019

Just recently, another seed sprouted in my mind while planning our year-long trip and realizing that we could only stay in Italy for 90 day stretches, every 180 days.

“I want to live in Italy for some time. I want a home there. How can I make this work?”

After some quick internet research I asked Lion “Have you ever thought about getting your Italian citizenship?” He told me that he had thought about it, but that he didn’t think he was eligible. And so me being the super thorough sleuthing “I gotta dig until I find gold” kind of person that I am…I researched laws, got invaluable info from my father in law, and traced his paternal line back to 1806. It turned out that Lion, our children, and even myself are in fact eligible for Italian Dual Citizenship. Lyss, being an adult step-child of the Italian descendant has a longer, more complicated route. But if she wanted dual citizenship and was willing to do the long work, she could get it also.

Hal le lu jah!

(Praise be. Because whenever a seed sprouts, I know it’s a word from Jah. I am divinely connected).

Starting the process of obtaining Italian citizenship has been enlightening. First, it turns out that the family has been using the wrong family name for decades. A search for Lion’s great grandfather’s birth certificate in Italy revealed that he changed his last name from the original ‘Torchiaro’ to ‘Turco’ in 1900. Then, when coming to America years later, it was changed again to ‘Turck’. We were always under the impression that ‘Turchiaro’ was the original family name.


Second, the process is very involved. This says a lot coming from me, because I am a person who “gets involved” and is very accustomed to sorting out paper trails and official documents. It’s so involved that we are deciding to use a service to complete the process for us. And that service is expensive. Over $10k expensive.


Third, the process is a slow go. From start to finish, we’re looking at about 2-3 years for Lion and the littles. And then another 1-2 years for me, and 5-10 years for Lyss (should she decide to pursue).


The good news about that though…it gives us time to think slow about what the future can and may look like. It also gives us time to perfect our knowledge and use of the language.

But anyway, back to the title of this post. While I did, in fact, save the line of descendants of Frank Turco and Teresa Bruno (married in 1900) from extinction, Frank was not the only son born to his parents. He had at least one brother named Giovanni Turcharo, who had 2 sons; Nicholas and Charles. I’m not sure if either of them had sons. If they did, then their line stemming from the original Torchiaro name may still be in continuance.


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