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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.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Permesso di Soggiorno Part 2

I am now back in Torino but wrote this last Friday...

It’s a law in Italy that after 8 days of having arrived in the country you must go to the local police office and register for a Permesso di Soggiorno, basically a permission to stay in Italy that doubles as your work permit. Americans have a 90 day grace period for tourist reasons and so most American travelers aren’t even aware of this rule. I requested a permesso in March and have yet to receive it; some I ex-pats know have received it in as little as three months. But because we applied for my permesso in Torino and Demetrio is a resident of Rome, this adds a glitch to the whole process. Nine months later, still nothing from the questura in Torino.

Today we tried once again, this time in Rome, to get my permesso. Demetrio called to find out where the right office was as so we headed off and corralled ourselves into the crowded building. After almost 2 hours of me sitting behind an adorable little African girl and Demetrio loitering around the receiving windows, he overhears that we are in the wrong place. The right place is the commissariato or local police office. To make matters worse Italy in general is experiencing a bout of very bad weather, it was absolutely pouring cats and dogs. We head off to the local police office to find out more and are told that all the paperwork needs to be done in Torino. The receptionist actually laughed at us, or should I say laughed with us, when we told him of our situation. He offered us more information, a few papers to fill and advised us of how to apply differently for my permesso in Torino.

As I was sitting in the waiting room of the questura, I thought about this blog post. I thought about all the immigrants that surrounded me and what their reasons might be for wanting to gain legal entry into Italy. I watched the African couple in front of me; they spoke three languages and let me chat with their little girl. I saw red passports, green passports and even a few blue ones like mine. I listened to all the accents around me, most of them sounding unknown. Above all-the sound of the voice on the loudspeaker as it tried to pronounce Arabic, Chinese, Hispanic, Eastern European names and butchering them-drowned out even the rings of cell phones. The men and women behind the windows gave no mercy to those who did not speak or understand Italian well enough or fast enough. Most of the immigrants were treated like a pestilence with no end in sight. Here I was sitting with my husband, who spoke perfect Italian and English there to help me. As I watched those around me struggle I secretly hoped that in my next life I would come back a master linguist. With the ability to speak 5+ languages I could surely help others less fortunate than those in front of me with translating.

I have never stepped foot in an immigration office in the U.S. as I have had no occasion to. If I ever do move back to the U.S. I plan to head to my friendly neighborhood immigration office and see for myself how “friendly” it actually is.

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At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Buzzurro said...

Sorry to read you had such a bad experience at the Rome questura.
My experiences with the immigration office here are pretty similar to yours.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

Ugh, sounds bad. I went through the immigration process with my husband in the U.S. and I felt terrible about how the immigrants were treated. I noticed that the farther along we went in the process to citizenship, the more gracious the service became. Our final interview was quite friendly.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger corpodibacco said...

Stories around are so similar, but somehow Italy gets alway the 'worst in the pack' award.
I am there reading the posts of the writer Dennis Cooper, now in Paris, (denniscooper.blogspot.com) and he's there fighting for a Visa for his russian boyfriend. It's an excruciating story, and still I can't help but thinking, "lucky you, you're not fighting to get into Italy."
At least they have manners in France.

I hope in our next life the word 'immigration' won't exist anymore. Hence all the immigration offices in Italy would just give directions, funny badges and free coffee.

Oh, Bureaucracy kills...

At 4:56 AM, Blogger Eulinx said...

We went through all this 3 years ago, when Sean wanted to move to Italy.
Never ending queues and useless informations, missing papers and illogic rules.
Maybe that's why we decided to move to Germany, then!

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Can't sit still.... said...

I too had a similar experience. I finally was able to get my PdS for tourism after a 2+ year struggle, which included a return trip to the US for a new passport. I then converted it to the ricongiungimento type...such a shame I'll be leaving Italy before the hard copy turns up. Va beh.

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