Italy to shut New Jersey consulate, Sinatra’s home

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Italian Premier Enrico Letta. AP

NEWARK, New Jersey — Italy is closing its consulate in New Jersey, the home state of Frank Sinatra and Frankie Valli.

The Newark consulate is a casualty of economic troubles 4,200 miles (6758.93 kilometers) away — an Italian economy in recession, a government that needs money and the Euro Zone crisis. The closure leaves a state whose Italian roots run deep in the American consciousness without an official tie to Italy.

The office tucked in a downtown high-rise is slated to close in March. A smaller vice consulate offering limited services will remain open in Trenton.

The news has raised the ire of Italians here in New Jersey, which has the fourth highest number of Italian-Americans of any state and the second highest number of Italian immigrants.

About 1.49 million New Jersey residents — about 17 percent of the state’s population — have Italian ancestry, according to the 2010 Census.

“We Italians never take anything sitting down,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, an Italian-American from Paterson, New Jersey, who is lobbying Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero to keep the consulate open.

Pascrell, who also plans to meet with members of the Italian Parliament, said the office works with 17,000 people each year process visas, passports and other documents. It also helps visitors learn about Italian culture.

“It’s very difficult to think about it closing down,” said Pascrell, who plans to urge consideration of alternatives to closure, such as limiting services. “Where will all of our folks go?”

The answer, for most here in North Jersey, is New York City. The consulate in Philadelphia will serve residents of South Jersey.

Some think the consulate’s proximity to New York City made it an easy target.

“You want to close Newark because it’s close to New York,” said Augusto Sorriso, a member of the General Council of Italians Living Abroad, an elected group that advises the Italian government. “Could you imagine the American administration closing LaGuardia Airport because it’s 2 minutes from Kennedy Airport?”

Sorriso, a Red Bank, New Jersey, resident and former mayor of a town in Sicily, said the group is planning protests at the consulate and the Italian Embassy in Washington.

The consulate forwarded questions to the embassy, which did not immediately respond.

The consulate’s lobby could pass for the waiting room at a doctor’s office, save the photos of the Italian landscape and European Union flag.

Cristina Maffei came with her 20-year-old daughter; both recently received dual citizenship. Maffei is incensed over the closure and wonders how elderly New Jersey residents will make it into New York for appointments.

“I think it’s horrendous,” she said. “Just find some cheaper real estate.”

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Mea Culpa

    …and the defeatists here in the Phils says only Philippines does such thing…now look at Italy!

  • Iggy Ramirez

    I thought they were going to close down Frank Sinatra’s home.

    But nowhere near anything that’s ever mentioned that his home was going to be shut down or sold.

    I guess I’m just too slow to get a grip on things especially Inquirer’s way of writing things.

  • mamerto

    WHAT has “Sinatra’s home” got to do with the shutting down of the Italian Consulate.?
    (Yes, I know…, IT IS the proof-readers’ FAULT.!)

  • Robbins Mitchell

    Q) What’s green and slimy and Italian?

    A) Frank Snotra

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