Continuing with Italian Dream Categories — 1, 2, 3 or 4…….
Each level brings its own set of discoveries. In going from Category 2 (vacations offer enough time in Italy) to 3 (six months per year is the minimum) there are a number of things I’ve felt quite differently about. For instance, food. I have always loved Italian cooking. The fact that most of the things you eat come from within 20 miles of your location means they’re incredibly fresh, and the cuisine is built around those local products in such a way as to bring out their true flavors. On a two-week vacation, you savor every meal. But if you’re there for six months, you begin to crave a Thai dinner – or perhaps some sushi. However, Italians are so proud of their local dishes that they’re not interested in anything foreign, and therefore, it’s almost impossible to find a meal other than what historically has come from that particular region. So forget chicken with green curry sauce.
If you want to stay more than three months, you should get a Permesso di Sogiorno (permission to stay) and if you want to open a bank account, you need a Carta di Identita’ (local identity card). The Permesso looks like a sturdy, thick credit card with a microchip imbedded containing all your pertinent information. This is good for no more than 2 years. The Carta di Identita’ is a folded piece of stiffish paper with your photo glued on, and it’s good for 10 years.
If you’re a Category 3 Dreamer, you’ll probably have to deal with the utility companies at some point. Fortunately, they are fairly computer friendly, and you can get their charges deducted directly from your Italian bank account or pay on-line with a credit card. And that is very good, because before credit cards and the internet the only way to pay was to go to the post office and hand them the cash. In fact, that is still your only other choice, since there’s no such thing as paying through the mail with a check.
Speaking of the post office…..yes, it sells stamps and forwards packages — in addition to being the place to pay all of your utility bills — but you can also have a bank account there, and you can even buy things like printers, books and movies. The one thing it doesn’t sell is a very special stamp that goes on ALL official papers. THAT stamp you must buy in the tobacco shops.
The phone company brags as a selling point that if you have a problem, they’ll “get back to you within 24 hours”. We’re not talking a solution here…..just a return call.
I hope this doesn’t end up sounding like I’m grousing about my Category 3 Italian Dream. These are the things that come with the territory, and if they seem like too much of a hassle, then perhaps it’s best to stay a Category 2 Dreamer. It’s SO much easier to have your hotel handle any and all bureaucratic situations. However, I LOVE a story, and if ever there was a place filled to the brim with quirky stories, it’s Italy!