Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bureaucracy Revisited

The wheels of bureaucracy in Italy are badly in need of a little grease. They are well-rusted and creak along slowly. Three months after our arrival we are still waiting for our official Permesso di Soggiorno to arrive, the permit to stay. This may not seem so bad, but when you consider that a friend arrived in Chianti just about 3 weeks ago and has an appointment to pick up her permesso in Firenze on September 5, you’ll understand my frustration. An appointment! Magari! September! Speriamo. We hope.

The visas decorating our passports allowed us to enter the country for a year. Normal tourists can stay up to 90 days and then must take their baggage and leave. To be here officially we need the permits. We dutifully went on our first day here, accompanied by Giorgio and Francesca, and went through the whole rigamorole of being finger-printed, weighed, measured (height) and questioned. (Read all about it in the archives from May.) We were given our ricevuto, a kind of receipt adorned with a tiny photo face-shot saying we’d applied for said permit. And then we began to wait. And wait. And wait.

We returned a couple weeks ago to inquire about the status, but were told that we’d “only applied in May”…how could we possibly expect they’d be ready yet? Maybe September, he said. September; we were aghast. Well, he said, you know it is almost August and there are the vacation schedules…and he mumbled other things I could not hear nor comprehend, speaking as he was into a crackly microphone through the plexiglass window, with a full room of foreign spectators behind me creating a cacophony. We left understanding enough – the permessos wouldn’t be ready for some time.

Today we returned armed with Francesca, a gal who knows her way around bureaucracy. She was packing a weapon – the name of an employee. “It’s the only way,” we were told. “You have to know someone.” Unfortunately, that someone is (predictably) on vacation. Nonetheless, we were again told that we’d only applied in May, so why the impatience? Francesca explained about our friends and their coveted appointment in Firenze. Much gesturing and eye-rolling. Firenze! Mah! Firenze is piccola piccola! We are Roma! The province of Rome is grandissima! We have more than five milioni abitanti and a good part of the world trying to live here. Bah…he barked. Just wait. It turns out to be all about location. We are apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time…the largest province in the country during August, which brings everything to a screeching halt.

And so we wait. And wait. And wait.

copyright 2006 Valerie Schneider

1 comment:

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

I waited 16 months for my first permit to be renewed. When it arrived, it was already expired! HA! I might be the only person who reapplied for their permesso on the same day they received it. The Italian bureaucracy NEVER ceases to give us bizarre stories. One of the reasons, for better or worse, that I love Italy... keeps us on our toes!