Friday, April 8, 2005
We did it! We got up this morning at 5am and threw on our clothes, dressing warmly since the mornings are still cold, called a cab – I had planned what I would have to say in Italian on the phone and it worked perfectly. Within minutes the taxi was zipping along the dark streets towards the lower part of the city and the Questura (the police headquarters). There were already at least 20 people waiting when we got there all huddled together blowing in their hands, looking cold, smoking cigarettes and clutching folders containing what I’m sure they hoped were the proper documents to get them whatever official form they needed. There are many reasons for going to the Questura: work permits, passports for Italian citizens, filing a police report in the event of an accident, burglary etc. The way this works is, you get there early, around 5 is best. At 7:30 the door opens and an officer hands out numbers (like you get at the post office from a machine but these are torn off a big roll). When the door opens it becomes a mad rush to get a number. You have to be really firm and stand your ground or these guys will push right through you. They let you into a big yard where there are a few tables and some chairs – most of us sat on the curbs with our papers in our laps and filled out the forms. We were happy to find that some of the terms were in Italian and in English. We have a 3-ring binder with plastic sleFeves where we put multiple copies of all of our documents so it’s easy to see what’s there and get at it. Last night we put little post-it tabs on the pages so it would be even easier. (fyi to weloveitaly: we didn't have & hadn't heard of the rental agreement stamp! It's really an adventure isn't it.)
Thanks to Dee and her staff at Wachovia for coming through for us with a fax and to Michela at Atena for being so helpful, warm and friendly. We were able to access the other papers we needed online and then made copies of everything at our Internet Café, Internet Train, where Giovanna has been both helping us and laughing at us as we made way more copies than necessary to take with us.
They don’t actually perform any services until 8:30am, but once we had our place in line we found a seat and settled in for the wait. They have 5 windows with plexiglass between them and you but at any given time the person behind the window disappeared into the back of the office. In front of these windows are 5 separated queues. We noticed that people were crowded into these queues who hadn’t been in front of us originally and we figured out that they were taking the numbers in order of people who were there for the first time, but that if you were returning to pick up your document that you could just work your way up the line and they would take care of you. Which explains why the numbers moved so slowly! We ended up with number 82 & 83 (The numbers started at 50 today for some reason.) and we basically had to wait until they called that number which was around 10am. Not as bad as we had expected. We decided while we were waiting that it would probably be best for us to pull out two sets of everything rather than have them in the binder and it seemed to have been a good decision. The woman behind the counter frowned reading through our papers and we were certain she was not finding things to her liking. We decided later that she must have been frowning because she had to read some of these in English and perhaps that wasn’t fun for her. We held our breaths as she looked through the papers, giving us back a few – copies of our birth certificates, the rent receipt and copies of our airline tickets. We brought all the same papers with us that we had sent to the Consulate in Los Angeles to obtain the Visa in the first place with the addition of something called a “copia cessione fabricato” provided by our landlord. We had to provide 4 passport photos – we had these taken here in Perugia in a little camera/telephone/electronics shop since they are a slightly different size than the ones we use in the U.S. along with what is called a “marco bollo” a tax stamp that cost 11 euros each which is the fee you pay for the document. We were so worried that she would want something that we didn’t have and we would not be able to understand but all seemed in order and she put no less than 6 rubber stamps on the form and signed it, stapling the whole thing together and giving us back one copy. Now we wait for the actual Permesso di Soggiorno, which will take a few weeks. We can, she told us, check online and see when it is ready, but at any rate, it will definitely be there for us to go back and pick up after May 17. Which means we have to go through all of this again but this time should be easier and less stressful.
We decided to try the bus going home and it was very easy to do and brought us back to Piazza Italia, a short walk from home. The lower part of town was really interesting too but that is for another post. I want to tell you all about Professoressa Anna Comodi but this is enough for you to read all in one sitting!
Tonight we will celebrate by going to a restaurant nearby for pizza!
Rosamaria e Roberto
p.s Thanks to those of you who are adding comments! It’s so exciting to receive feedback and to know there are people out there who are reading and enjoying! Keep the comments coming, they mean a lot to us.