When last I filled you in on my Permesso di Soggiorno saga…. (for newcomers and those with short memories:
…..I had actually gotten 2 renewals by that time and was feeling like perhaps I had the system down. The way it works is your first one is good for 1 year (or in my case, only 3 months), and thereafter they’re good for 2 years.
So – here we were in 2013, and it was THAT time again.
Having to do something only every few years comes with its share of problems. The worst is the previously mentioned complacency where you say to yourself: “I did it 3 times before, and even though I had the help of the nice Italian man who assists foreigners with their paperwork, I think I wrote down all the steps so we can do it ourselves this time.” The reality, of course, is that filling out Italian forms is not like riding a bike; if you haven’t done it for 2 years, the process does NOT naturally come back to you. You WILL make errors.
In our case this year, it was a timing error. We were doing this and that and totally forgot that we had to submit our forms by the beginning of June. As we were getting ready to leave a month later, a cartoon-like light bulb went off above Alan’s head, shining its imaginary beam on the vision of expired Permessos. We scurried down to the post office to pick up our renewal packet and I spent the day filling out the forms — carefully keeping my letters in black ink within the supplied boxes — and copying the reams of personal information that you must include. We then got the stamp that’s required on all documents, which, as mentioned before, is available only at a tabacchi (yes — the tobacco shop), and dropped the completed packet back at the post office. They then gave us 2 pieces of paper: one acknowledging that we had gone to the trouble of submitting our renewal forms and the other with a date and time to go to the questura (our regional police office in town) for fingerprinting. We didn’t actually look at these papers until we got back home, at which time we realized we would not be in Orvieto for our fingerprinting appointment. However, we couldn’t call to change this appointment because phone numbers are NEVER given out.
So I returned to Italy a few weeks ago, full of trepidation. I had several possible scenarios in my mind – the most fanciful being a public humiliation in the Piazza della Repubblica, whereby the Orvietani would be invited to hurl insults at those of us who ignored their stringent timing rules. The worst scenario was that I wouldn’t be allowed back in Italy for a year or 2 as punishment.
However, just like Alan had predicted, the reality was that this is ITALY….land of appointments being made for the open-ended “after lunch” rather than the precise “3:00”. The man behind the desk at the questura last week couldn’t have been nicer as he fingerprinted me. He did do a couple of “tisk, tisks” when he saw I had no fingerprints, but he remembered me from before, and when I told him the same thing had happened to me in the U.S., he relaxed and we almost joked about it.
There was just one little thing: tardiness has its price; I had to pay another 100 euros. And this, being Italy, meant that I had to go back to the post office, because while you can’t buy the important stamp there, they are the only ones able to take money. I guess cash just wouldn’t be safe enough at the police office. I then took my 100 euro receipt back to the questura, so they could submit my forms to Rome for final approval. The man said this should take a month. I asked what would happen if I weren’t here and didn’t come back till Spring. “No problem”, he said. “It’ll still be here.”
So it turns out that in these days of financial crisis and austerity, foreigners being late renewing their Permesso could be considered a welcomed addition to the government coffers. Therefore, let’s not look at this episode as another example of my procrastination; let’s call it helping my beloved 2nd home make ends meet.