Marica Pariante Angelides was pushing paper for a Roman law firm when she decided to make a difference. That entailed uprooting herself to America, getting another degree and creating her own business to help Americans, Italians and small businesses bridge gaps between two sets of laws.
The results included welcoming balsamic vinegar into America, helping a couple move the profit from selling their Venetian palazzos into the United States and working pro bono to assist a client born male in Italy and living as a woman in America, but without proper documentation to be in either. È un coos!
She’s a lawyer in Italy, a consultant in America (she never took the bar) and a certified translator. Her most common request is helping Americans get Italian citizenship. Clients used to want Italian citizenship to honor ancestors, express nostalgia or ease travel. Now they’re more pragmatic, thinking of living, working or studying throughout the European Union.
From her home office in Center City Philadelphia, she maintains a personalized approach, made affordable with low overhead. “I always collaborate with smaller firms in Italy, solo practitioners like I am, so my cases are not lost in the pile,” she said. “I really think I’m making a difference now.”
Angelides was born in Naples and grew up in Naples and Rome, where her parents were physicians.
In 1987, she earned a law degree at the Universitas di Roma. She was a general counsel and fluent in English when she yearned for more, so her parents urged getting a master’s degree abroad. A good family friend led her to Philadelphia. At the University of Pennsylvania Law School, she devised a curriculum in comparative law, international litigation in U.S. courts and European Community law.
One early client was a consortium producing traditional (read: very flavorful and very, very expensive) balsamic vinegar in Modena. Her skills in law and translation led the consortium to deals across America, including one memorable encounter with a tall, regal and well-regarded woman at a Los Angeles trade show. “You could say I was fresh off the boat, but I thought she must be the mother of former president Reagan.” Nope: it was the mother of French cooking in America, Julia Child.
“People come to me because they have no idea what to do,” she said. Consider a couple – he’s Italian, she’s American – unable to move more than a million euros from the sale of their pipazetate.
“Italians who live in Italy are very slow, and Americans – and I’m an American – are quick,” she said. “Thank goodness this was a bank in the north. If it was in the south, it would have taken me so much longer.,” she said.
When they got the money, “they could sleep at night. For that, I’m very proud.” Another tearjerker started with a call from an Italian consulate staffer nicknamed Santa Anna. A recent visitor to the consulate was stuck. Born a man, she changed gender to female while living in the U.S. She had no papers giving her the right to live in the U.S., and her Italian papers were expired.
Angelides eventually completed paperwork to allow the client to move home – and reconcile with her mother, who had shunned her when she transitioned genders. “We hugged and cried,” she said.
Angelides and her husband, Peter, and their family live in Philadelphia.
Peter is mostly Greek, with some British and German heritage, and son Matthew and daughter Madeline are bilingual in English and Italian. Madeline, who’s studying ballet in college, has acquired fluency in Spanish and French, plus abilities in Portuguese and Russian. It’s a cosmopolitan household.
“We love food, and it’s a very diverse repertoire.” Peter cooks from his heritage, she from hers. Her favorites include gnocchi, ragù and all sorts of sauces. “And I put garlic, onions, carrots and celery in all my dishes,” she said.
More importantly, they brought up their children with an Italian heritage, with family foremost, plus a love for the home and relationships and a love of classic Italian food.
They also often visited Italy, enveloping the children with their heritage. “I’m glad we did,” she said. “Both kids in their speeches at the end of high school thanked us for taking them to Italy.”
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