NOT the police station I visited

As a foreigner planning to live in Italy, I had to report to the police station in the city in which I will be residing within 8 days.    Through contacts or “amicizie”, Luca was able to arrange an appointment at 0830 one morning.    (Appointments are not the norm.)  We arrive on time at what I soon realized is the immigration entrance by the fact that there are people of several nationalities clamoring at the gated entrance, many of which do not smell very good due to the hot and steamy weather.   People are pushing and talking loudly to get the attention of the employees; babies are crying.  It’s like a scene out of a bad movie about a third world country.    Luca pushes through the crowd (“scusi, scusi”) and speaks to the woman about our appointment.  She responds that she’ll let the officer know we’re there and disappears.  Waiting, waiting…nothing happens.  Luca removes the barriers at the entrance (note that if you do something like this in the U.S. you risk being shot or at least “taserized” by a police officer) enters the building and tells another man that we have an appointment.  He clearly is more on the ball from what we’ve already observed.  After a few minutes, he ushers us into a separate entrance.

Luca and the officer discuss my situation for a few minutes.  I’m catching bits and pieces of it.  I can tell something is amiss.  The officer is asking yet again for documents we’ve provided many times.  There must be hundreds of copies of our passports, marriage and birth certificates floating around the Italian government.  Luca is explaining that we’ve taken care of everything with the Italian Consulate in New York.    I almost laughed when the officer asked how he would know that I’m the children’s mother and Luca responds that he could simply read the boys passports.   Finally, the officer agrees and tells us I need FIVE photographs and a “marca da bollo”, which is basically a stamp or another way for the government to collect money.  You need a “marca da bollo” for virtually everything except coffee  in Italy.  Interestingly the Italian consulate wouldn’t provide you with this information beforehand (note that Italian consulate in New York is the place we visited most in the City).

We march off to a photo shop around the corner, get the photos, the “marca da bollo” and return.  We are brought to another group of immigration officers ahead of other people waiting.   Nice.    We wait for the officer to become available for about 15 minutes.    Great, our turn.  Luca explains that I am not a “convivente” but legally married to him, then my status changes to “la Signora” again.  The officer seems to have difficulty with the concept that we do not yet have a permanent address (been in the country for just a week) but will be living in Salerno.    Discussion, discussion…..rapid, heated discussion then the officer pulls a simple form out for Luca to attest to the fact that we will be living in Salerno.  Ok.  On to the next hurdle.    The name change to my married name is on the last page of my American passport.  Apparently, this also causes some confusion.  Must be the first time an American passport has been presented to this station.   Discussion, discussion…then that gets straightened out.  The result of all this is a sheet of paper with my photo glued to it and several stamps of a number “2” on it.  Wow, this would be hard to forge (note:  add sarcasm).  Probably would have taken less time to forge it than the 2 hours it took at the station.

I tell myself that every country has its good and bad points.  I better get used to it.