Benvenuto in Italia (Welcome to Italy)


Benvenuto in Italia (Welcome to Italy)

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Whenever I have some strangeness, at the bank, regarding utilities or the bureaucracy here my friend Lia says “benvenuto in Italia”. She had warned me about this when I was here last spring and, yes, I knew that since I never had contact with the bureaucracy here and never paid bills that it would be more, well, interesting. I’ve already written about some of my first encounters with the legendary Italian bureaucracy but this week I had two particularly “special” encounters. I must, like anyone that is not a European Union resident, apply for a permesso di soggiorno to stay here more than 3 months. So as I’ve written before I did all the right things to make the request for the permesso and was given an appointment date and time (believe it or not) for last Monday, the 1st of October. So I duly showed up at the immigration office at the appointed time to find a room full of people milling around, no instruction posted on the walls and no actual person to provide information. I looked up the word for “corral” in Italian (it’s “recinto”) just so I could tell Italian friends later that we were like cattle milling around in a corral. Since I had an appointment I was optimistic that someone would probably call my name after a bit and I would be taking care of the business for which I came (foolish me). I did notice that people near one side of the corral would get the attention of some police person (this office is part of the police department) and ask for information so I did the same and was told that I was to wait until someone came out and called my name. So after 45 minutes someone came out and asked about who had appointments. I and a few others raised our hands. She came over, found my name on the list and said, “hmmm, yes, here you are, just wait in the line over there with the others. So I did and after about 15 minutes I was handing over documents and having my thumbs and index fingers fingerprinted. Then I was given a sheet of paper saying to go to a different part of the questura (police headquarters) the next morning for an appointment at 10:20 for further fingerprints.

So the next morning I was sure to be on time because I wanted to get this all out of the way and stop by a store and buy something before going to do some volunteer work at the library. What was I thinking? I was like Charlie Brown and the Italian bureaucracy was Lucy with the football. I found the address and from across the street I saw probably 20 people clustered around the door – uh, oh – here we go again. No information on display, nobody official to ask about what to do. Fortunately I heard a couple of students speaking English, one was from Wisconsin and the other from Russia. They said, when the guy comes out to the doorway to call out a name, give him the piece of paper that you received yesterday or else you could be here for hours. So again, the appointment means exactly nothing. Apparently your place in line is determined by when you hand over your appointment paper. After almost an hour and 20 minutes I decided that I needed to be a little furbo. That’s an Italian word that really doesn’t have an adequate translation into English. Basically it means telling a little white lie or whatever is required to turn a situation around. So, the next time the guy popped his head out I said, “Wait, I have an a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes for my eye and besides I’m a senior and the poster says that seniors have priority.” So he said, “OK, you’re next”. I was done in 5 minutes and made it to my appointment at the library almost on time. When I told this story to some Italian friends they said that I’m definitely becoming more Italian. I’m trying to qualify for my furbizia (perhaps “craftiness” is a good translation) merit badge.

So now the application is in process. All of the paperwork has my residence address, my email address and my phone number. One would think that it would be reasonable for someone to send a message through one of those communication channels to let me know that the permesso was available. Ha, ha,ha. What a foolish thought. I was told that the permesso would be issued sometime within 3 months and I needed to go to a website periodically and check to see if it was ready. Benvenuto in Italia!

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