Now why do I say that? Well, for one thing I have read what others have needed to get their Visa for an Elective Residence from the Italian Consulate. It appears that some consulates are easier to deal with than others. We are assigned the one in San Francisco. Apparently they are known for being helpful and friendly.
• Finished but unsigned (you sign it at the consulate) Visa Application. Married? Still two applications (and fees).
• Self-addressed pre-paid envelope from USPS Express Mail to return your passport with the Visa stamped therein. Cashier's Check for the FEE (103.50 right now--it changes with the value of the Euro so you have to check on the consulate web-page.)
• Detailed financial statement letter from your bank or financial institution explaining your solvency and complete lack of need of work while in Italy.
• An equally confident letter stating where you will live. We have the purchase papers for our Italian home as proof.
• You could also include a letter from a friend or landlord stating that you have a home with them. There is a special form for that.
• An FBI background check. You get fingerprints forms at the local police station and send them to the FBI. They are good about getting back when you need it. I have to edit this--we used the old background check to renew the visa because if we didn't have a record for 50 years, it seems unlikely we will become criminals in our old age---BUT we did reapply for the background check in case it's not acceptable and it seems to be taking the full 10 weeks regardless of our request for expedition...so much for kindness and efficiency.
• An official Itinerary for plane tickets showing when you are planning to enter--(what you get off of the website when you pay for tickets).
I also have copies of our health insurance cards and copies of our codice fiscale (but I have never been clear that we really need these).
I know this information will be of value for someone out there. It took us an ungodly amount of time to compile for us. Our appointment is December 16 so I can't tell you anymore until it happens (trusting in the Universe that it will). Update: the Visas arrived on January 12, 2010 to our great happiness and relief.