Italian bureaucracy. Take my word, as westerner coming to Italy, you’ll probably be in shock when experiencing it first hand.
I’ve been considering writing this blog for a while now, but wanted to get a full grasp on how things really function here (and in my case ‘here’ means the south of Italy) before doing so. I think I’m comfortable enough now to share my experience and advice.
As the title suggests, in Italy, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I came prepared to Italy with all required documents, visas, insurance, health coverage etc. The only requirement of my visa, once here, was to get my permesso di soggorno. A very straightforward document that tells the government I’ve paid taxes to live here temporarily. Simple enough right? As it turns out, this document has proven to test my patience and well, my sanity.
When I arrived here in Calabria in January, it was smooth sailings. I went to the township here in Cosenza and was given a codice fiscale without so much as a blink from the government. (Codice fiscale is the equivalent to a Social Insurance Number/Social Security Number). With this number, I am legally allowed to work anywhere in Italy. The next document I got (surprisingly, yet another super simple task), was my Carta D’identita. A card that is used primarily for identification purposes. I was admittedly feeling great about the simplicity of the procedures here. But I soon realized something. When going to get these documents, we rarely waited in lines. There was always some form of friendly banter between my family members and whoever was working there. ‘This guy is a cousin of a friend of a nephew…’ Ah. Ok…Front of the line for you.
I can’t speak for the rest of Italy, but here in the south, if you don’t know somebody who knows somebody of importance (a.k.a someone who actually has a decent job here – more on that in a future blog) you will be stuck in line waiting for days or even months to get the simplest of documents.
This reality has definitely struck home recently. I applied for my permesso di soggorno on the 8th of January. Today is the 31st of March and I have yet to receive this very important document. My paperwork and photos have been misplaced, recovered, sent to Rome (twice), rejected due to fingerprinting issues and lost in the mess of the postal service here. I’ve had to return twice to the south from Florence to resubmit misplaced photos and redo fingerprinting. I was told that the cream I had used on my hands weeks ago made it so my fingerprints were unidentifiable. *Note to all criminals reading this blog: you did not hear it from me that using hand lotion will make identifying your fingerprints at a crime scene an impossible task for the police. Shhhh*
I’ve had to cancel and reschedule classes so I could take a 9 hour bus ride back and forth to the south to rectify these issues. And yet here I am, still with no permesso di soggorno. As far as I know as of today, it left Rome on March 22nd, and is somewhere in transit.
The icing on the cake is that the school I work for can’t legally release my paycheques for the last 3 months without this document. That’s right. I’m living off zero incoming wages. Remember in my previous blog I suggested to have at least 5/6 months worth of savings before coming here?! Well kids, this is exactly the reason why.
My family may have known someone who knew someone to get those first few pieces of I.D, but at the end of the day, when it really counts, there is so much red tape and…well, bullshit ‘procedures’ here, you’d be lucky if you got what you needed in less than 3 months. I remind all you out there considering this adventure, to pack your patience and sense of humour. Nothing, and I mean nothing comes easy here (unless you’re connected…if you know what I mean) *raises eyebrows*
Since this clearly isn’t the case for me or my family, all I can do is wait and wait some more and hope this elusive document from Rome arrives soon. I still have a smile on my face and wouldn’t give up this experience for the world, but I would be lying if I said my patience and sanity hasn’t been tested here.
The silver lining…fantastic food in the south and lots of time with my cousins and family. ❤️ TVB A, O, I, G, S, M ❤️ they are the ones that keep me laughing and smiling.
I’ll post an update once/if I get the permesso 🙂
Until the next blog, tanti baci.
**********UPDATE: 2 days after posting this blog I FINALLY got it!!!! Many a drink was had in celebration 🙂 *******