I am in Italy now and this post is not about art. It is about politics or at least government. And if you want to stay in Italy (or in most parts of Europe) for longer than 90 days, you must obtain a visa (probably from the Italian Consulate in your home country, as I had to do in America) and within eight days of arriving in Italia, you must apply for the “Permesso di Soggiorno” (permission to stay). Over the many years that I have been doing this, the process has become easier – a bit.
For many years it has been possible to go to the postale (post office) instead of directly to the Questura (immigration police). That is wonderful because the Questura is only open in the early morning for this part of the process and if you wait in line for hours, but arrive too late to the door, you get to repeat the experience. The post office has much better hours!
The color for the Postale is yellow. You will see a yellow banner in the signs announcing a post office and the bicycles of the mail carriers are yellow. When you enter the post office, you must take a ticket from a yellow machine and wait for your ticket number to be posted on the board with the number window for you to approach. Which ticket you choose depends on the service you want. For my task this week, I took an “F” ticket. This ticket is for the “Sportello Amico” (Friendly Window) and it is there that I picked up my application packet for the Permesso di Soggiorno.
As with English, legal language is not always clear and I had a friend help me through the forms. I do not understand government much at all. For example, one must buy a Marca da Bollo. That is a special stamp that currently costs 14.62 euros, but you cannot buy it at the Postale. You must go to a tobacco shop to buy one. The only purpose I can see for this is to share the wealth with the little guy. [Tobacco shops are everywhere. Besides tobacco, you may also buy cell phone minutes with most carriers, as well as lottery tickets. They have a decent-sized “T” sticking out from the wall so you may fine them.]
Anyway, the next day, I returned to Firenze, got my F ticket from the machine, verified a question that I had about my application (I had understood the word, but not the question on the form. It simply said: “Frontiera” or “border,” which I took to mean that they wanted to know which city I had flown into in Italia. In truth, I did not get the impression the postwoman knew the answer either but she nodded as if my guess was as good as hers), bought my health insurance for one year, and paid the application fee. [I had already attached the purchased Marca da Bollo stamp to the correct position on the application.]
I now am legally here, as long as I bring my original documents with my application receipts to the Questura on my appointment date in February. Whew…
This last image was taken during my reward: a stroll around the Duomo (Cathedral) in central Florence, Italy. So happy to be home! [That is probably a bit premature – ha!]