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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hasta La Visa Baby

Everyone has been calling me and asking me about my Visa trip to San Francisco. Here’s the lowdown…..
Because Demetrio had to leave to Italy so soon for his job and he knows the “in’s” and “out’s” of Italian bureaucracy; he thought it would be best to go the Italian consulate in SF in order to register our marriage and get the visa in person. As I have learned over the various months, my husband’s hunches are almost always correct, although I have a much better memory.

We leave Seattle at the crack of dawn so we can be there when the office in SF opens, we head to the window, pass a guy named Eric our papers and he says to come back after lunch and talk to him about the visa since he already has some of our paperwork. Not too shabby, we drive our rental car to a Starbucks and wait for lunch. While at Starbucks I give Rusa a call and Deme calls his old friend Roberto (who is also married to a Chinese lady, I think it is an epidemic.) We all end up at Yak Sing and have some nice dim sum, good conversations and catch up on old times. Since the visa office only sees the public on Monday’s and Thursday’s from 1:00-3:30 we headed back right after lunch. There was a long line and we were seven deep.

We saw Eric going to lunch and when he warned us to be nice to the lady behind the window, we knew we were in trouble. The people before us in line received the worst treatment from a civil servant I have ever witnessed. By the way, all the following information was screamed out via microphone to the entire room.
1. The first guy was told his international health insurance was not good enough even though he insisted he had used it 3 other times to Italy and France.
2. The second couple was told they did not have the right bank statements to prove they could support themselves in Italy. They had unknowingly brought investment account statements.
3. Third guy had an expired passport and an expired US visa. The lady abruptly stated they do not issue Italian visas to people who are in the US illegally.
4. The fourth guy was planning to go to Italy on a sabbatical with his 5 kids and wife and was just there for some information; he got more than a earful; asked one question and left.
5. The fifth lady was elderly back lady from Trinidad and Tobago. She was going on a retiree tour of Tuscany for 17 days. She drove 3 hours from Sacramento but was denied b/c she did not have bank statements; even though she would have been supported by the tour group. Her entire trip, food, transportation and hotel were all paid for and she stated herself that she would not be doing that much shopping.
6. A Russian lady and her daughter were right before us, the mother wanted a visa for her daughter who was traveling with a school group. They had everything except a detailed itinerary. They provided the itinerary that was given to them by the school but that was not detailed enough, she was denied.
Now it was our turn, I was nervous but Deme said I should do the talking.
I explained that we were there this morning and that I wanted a family long-stay visa, she asked why and I told her b/c I would be joining my husband (the man standing right next to me) in Italy. She looked at him and for the next 20 minutes or so they spoke very loudly to each other across the bullet proof glass window. In the end, she took all our papers (we had everything) and told us she would try to crank out my visa in 2 weeks, it usually takes a month, and send me back my passport if they could not do it.
We relaxed but half an hour later we get a call that they can do nothing for us b/c Deme has not been registered with the consulate for at least a year.


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