I’m still here

I’m still here

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

I mean that title in two senses. First I’m alive and well in these times when that means more than it usually does and second I’m still in Bologna and in general unable to go very far from my house. You need to fill out a form to go to another town or city. So that means that I can’t go to Torino where Laura is and she can’t come here. Bummer. It is now 44 days since I last saw her other than during a phone conversation with WhatsApp (thank god for WhatsApp).

Here is a blank copy of the form to fill out

In short it asks you where and when you were born, your identification (in my case I used the number of my Italian Identity Card), my phone number, where I live, where I am going and most importantly why I am making this trip. Ah, the Italian penchant for bureaucratese never fails to astound me.

I am currently selling my house in California and ran into a little, well BIG, problem. To sell the house I need to notarize documents. There are 23 states in the U.S. that recognize on-line notarizations but unfortunately California is not one of them. After pursuing various possibilities I concluded that the only option was to go to an American consolate or embassy here in Italy. The closest one is Firenze (Florence) and I was concerned that I would not be allowed to go there. So I went to the nearest office of the Carabinieri, a type of police force here in Italy and somewhat to my surprise they said that, yes, a need to go to the consulate was considered a matter of urgency so I could go. I corresponded by email with the consulate and they gave me a date of the morning of 28th of April. During this period of the coronavirus I certainly didn’t want to be on any form of public transportation so I rented a car for one day. I got it on the afternoon of the 27th, found a parking spot near my house and left the next morning at about 8:00.

I arrived after about 1 1/2 hours. And parked in a lot near the consulate. After a bunch of checks by the guards to verify my appointment and my passport I was allowed inside. Now I know what it must be like to work in a fortress. It is VERY secure. The doors to enter the front and then after the scanners very much like at an airport are so heavy that they must be blast proof or almost so. You cannot go inside with absolutely anything with electronic content so I of course that meant no cell phone. I knew this ahead of time so I locked a lot of my stuff in the trunk of the car before entering.

Next I went to a room where there were several windows, the kind that you see in a bank except more secure. You can pass documents back and forth under the window and communicate mostly with speaker and microphone.

After waiting a few minutes a woman came to the window and I passed the 6 documents (not all for the house sale) that needed to be notarized. She then spent some time preparing the documents for the person who would do the notarization. Finally “the guy appeared”. He was a vice consul who appeared to be all of 25 years old and was about as friendly as a cobra. I really thought that being and american citizen I’d at least get a friendly hello but he was cold as ice. In any case he signed and applied the appropriate seal to all of the documents and then the woman who was a little friendlier stapled the documents together with a brass grommet, something that I have never seen before but it was pretty cool. By the way, the woman whose name I don’t know and probably shouldn’t was much nicer. All business but pleasant both in our email exchanges and in person. Maybe she should have the vice-consul job.

Then I wasted no time in returning to Bologna and arrived back at home at about 1 PM. One interesting thing about this trip is that I fully expected to be stopped at least a couple of times by police of one type or another to check my documents but it never happened. Probably a good thing but it was a little disappointing since it would have added a bit more to the story.

The documents are now in the hands of Federal Express and as of this writing have already left their massive depot in Memphis on the way to California and possible delivery today but surely tomorrow. The house sale should close next week and that will be a huge relief. My thanks to unknown consular woman. Perhaps I will see her again when I register for an absentee ballot.

As a sort of P.S. The car rental was only 27 euros. However gas here is much more expensive than in the U.S. For the 130 mile round trip the gas cost 30 euros and the autostrada tolls were 16.60 euros. That brings the total to over 73 euros or about $80 at the current exchange rate. Much more expensive than the train but certainly much safer right now.

4 Responses to “I’m still here”

  1. Lori Says:

    I really enjoy your blog. I always look forward to it. (Even before I was sheltering in place during this corona virus pandemic) My husband and I have so many great memories from our travels in Italy. I find your day to day candid accounts of living there interesting and humorous as well! I hope you can see Laura in person soon. Take care!

  2. Joe Says:

    Hi Lori, it’s a pleasant surprise to hear that you’re reading my blog. I fear for the U.S. since the situation is sure to get worse before it gets better. At least in Italy they realized the danger, listened to the experts and stomped on the problem and the results are very promising. I just published a new post and I hope that you enjoy it. Where are you physically locate in the U.S. these days?


  3. Lori Says:

    I’m in Atlanta. I’m sure you saw our Governor in the news when Georgia was one of the first states to ease restrictions.
    Enjoyed your “Phase 2” post…and today’s post as well!

  4. Joe Says:

    Ok Atlanta Lori,I hope the easing of restrictions turn out well.


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