The word that strikes fear into the hearts of expats and immigrants in Italy. I can sum up my experience in one GIF….
So the day finally arrived when we would actually have to go to the Questura, or the Italian Immigration Office to finish the process of getting our Permesso di Soggiorno. For part one of this darling process, be sure to check out my previous post here.
Now, me, with my newfound obsession with blogs, I think I pretty much read everything every single Italian expat blogger has to say about the Questura. Needless to say the horror stories are endless. On Jaime’s part, he’s heard enough of about it through the people in his job to concur with everything I had read. So I just knew this would be one of these things that was going to make me hate Italy.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised! I should start by saying that in part one of this blog post, I wrote about the mission it was to get the kit filled out and sent from the Post Office and I realized by some reader responses that I did not make it clear enough that that was not the end of the process. If only! That day at the post office, we got an appointment to show up at the Questura at 9 am last Tuesday. Mind you, this place was I believe about 10km from where we are staying now but it felt like it was another city. We had to take the metro and a train to get there, which takes about an hour in total.
When you get there, there’s an armed and uniformed guard standing at the gate, asking for the paper with the appointment time. When we showed it to him, he let us through. There was a white tarp with a bunch of non-Italians just sitting or piling around and no sense of organization whatsoever. Jaime got there with a warrior attitude and a game plan. If by 10:30 am we had not even been called, he was going to walk right out, so help him God and continued on with his life. I don’t know if this would have worked out very well, but luckily we did not have to resort to such drastic measures. He asked another guard about his appointment and the guy merely pointed to the seats under the tarp and told us to wait. Less than 10 minutes later, he shouted for the 9 am call time (at about 9:15) and people started piling around him with their papers.
We were finally let through into the building (after a little pushing and shoving to make things interesting) and you go through security. Then we were ushered into a room, where you give them your call time and they return to you the famous Kit we had sent from the post office and tell you to take a seat. At this point, you literally get to play musical chairs because the guards do not want anyone standing up, so as people were called everyone had to shuffle to the next available seat. The most curious–and slightly scary– thing was that the people actually processing your applications were all wearing long white lab coats and I still can’t comprehend why. They looked like little evil geniuses plotting to take over the world.
Anyway, I would say less than half an hour passed before we were called, about 15 minutes to process our papers, and another 10 minutes for them to take our fingerprints and we were done! No ifs, ands, or buts about it, no hard time, no asking for more cryptic marca di bolo, nothing. So it turned out after much worrying, that, for us at least, the process was fairly painless. I mean, I’ve read that people have had issues even finding the kit at a post office!
Now that I’ve shared this story, I feel like I’ve crossed the rite of passage of foreigners in Italy. Mind you, even though the Permesso di Soggiorno wasn’t so bad, I feel like the Italian gods of making our lives miserable are instead having fun with us with our housing situation. Some day, we will find an apartment! Some day!