Friday, February 26, 2010

Permesso Application Done, Weather, and other Tidbits


We promised Vince a romp on the beach.  We were completely alone.
It's been a little over a week since we landed in Rome. I expected this post to be about the permesso di soggiorno process (Permit to Stay, an Italian version of a Green Card) because I knew it was due 8 days after entering Italy on our Visa--and I promised other Americans interested in this process a report.  I had also planned on photographing that process, but we ended up on the beach, so those are the pics for the week. 

If you are planning to move to Italy, in addition to a Visa, you will need to understand the process for obtaining other documents once you arrive.  This is the best link I have found for a general explanation of the process from the Expats in Italy website. The rest of this story will be impressions of the actual implementation by us. You will see some beach pictures interspersed here, but that's so you will remember why it's all worth it and to spare you the pictures of lines in the post office, etc.

Things didn't start out very well, as usual for us.  We followed directions on the state polizia website for a place to help us fill out the forms.  It was hard to find, we got sent all around town (Scalea) by various people and then found the right office--maybe.  A very nice lady looked at our documents (applications that you get from the post office, proof of housing, our codice fiscale--similar to social security number, bank statement showing financial ability to not work in Italy, proof of health insurance, and a copy of every page of our passports).  She said she'd call us back the next day but we didn't get the idea that she would be much help because the first thing she asked me is if I was a resident of our Commune (town). Anyone who knows the process knows that you can't get residency until you get the permesso.  She also said she was going to ask a colleague of hers.  It just didn't feel right.  We decided to go it on our own at the post office.  Time for another beach picture:
Vince looks like he knows what he's doing, but like the lady at the community service office, he really didn't know how to find a stick in surf.
I spent all of the following day (Wednesday) painstakingly filling out the application forms.  We found out you buy the marco bollo (14,62 Euro stamp that goes on each application) at the Tabbachi.  Doug took care of that.  Then we went to get copies of our supporting documents.  The next day was the day we heard so much about from other expats--struggling at the post office handing in the application.  We had learned from the day we got the forms that one window in the post office was for this service.  We heard that there was no order or lines in Italy, that people just stand around and push their way to get attention.  There was none of that here.  We took our number, the number appeared electronically above the clerk and you have about 2 seconds to respond before they go to the next person.  Very orderly.  Not that crowded, we came early.  There were chairs for waiting for your number.  We also heard that government workers were rude and controlling, but as I sat in my chair I noticed that the man who would probably end up with us was joking with people, smiling now and then and making many comments to his colleague at his side. (Italians here use the word colleague a lot which I like because I understand it. It sounds more like "co-LEG-ee" but I get it).  My number came up and the first thing I said was that my Italian was bad and showed him my application package.  All went smoothly.  I made one mistake at the top of the form where I was supposed to put in "Cosenza" for the province and I had put in my name.  There was a stir in the seating area when I waved Doug up to proceed with his application.  I think it was because of the two on one number thing...but I  also think "our guy" thought it made sense to do it together.  Some comment was made about us not being Italian...but I can't be certain...
Time for another beach picture:
Close up of the black sand and typical beach marble.  You can have black sand, pebbles, or regular sand all in our area.  
The town of Diamante has the "white" sand--we have found so far.
Anyway, much to the relief of the folks in the chairs, we left after paying about 60 more Euro to mail our applications to the provincial authorities.  We got a date to be fingerprinted there (Cosenza), and a user name and password to use the Internet to follow the progress of our permesso. We have heard it will take about two months to complete after the visit to Cosenza.
Friday came (today) and we found that we only had two chores to do and that our colds were beginning to lessen in intensity.  WE were feeling better, our applications were in, the weather was clearing up (there were some super thunderstorms, unplug your computer kinda storms).  We went to the middle school to sign up for daily 2 hour free Italian lessons.  I signed up for a Gym (they call it a "GYM"--290 Euro for A YEAR of unlimited use).  It's very nice.  The owner's name is Angelo and he was very patient and spoke slowly to me so I understood what I was signing.  We also looked at tubs and showers for the guest apartment as a shop was across from the Gym.  Next, you have caught up with us as we took the dog to the beach today:
After lunch we came back to Santa Domenica and took some weather and sunset pictures so you can get an idea of what the worst month (according to locals) in Calabria looks like--17C (63F):


Doug noticed at the store that lots of people were buying water.  The mayor told people to stop drinking tap water until he gives the OK.  Hmmm.  Must be related to the storms or something.  My observant husband.  I would never have noticed an excess of water buying.  So next week it's Italian lessons...

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Eagle Has Landed

Our flight plan was simple--fly from Portland to Atlanta, rest the dog, fly out to Rome from Atlanta the next afternoon.  It didn't go as smooth as glass but no big complaints--we all (Di, Doug, Vincente the Dog) made it to Italy safe and sound-- albeit a little bit the worse for wear. If there was a theme for the trip, it was next time, travel light!  The cause of most, but not all of the trouble along the way--6 overweight and oversize bags plus one dog:

A very accomodating limo driver came to pick us up and had to leave his spare tire at Doppio Coffee, a business below our apartment in the same building:
I won this limo trip during a charity auction.  Since we couldn't buy objects to pack, I thought it would make sense to leave in style. Next lesson: Limos don't have giant trunks.  We ended up sitting with all our bags with Vince on the floor shaking (his reaction to unusual situations).  He never had any tremors that we witnessed after that ride.  He seemed to be OK getting in the cage.  I think it's a good thing to get dogs used to the flight cage.  It was his cave for months.  We left him at the oversize baggage area of Delta and didn't know what awaited us at the gate:
By the time we arrived at gate (after giving Delta all our savings plus first born son--long wait on that--for baggage) the plane was boarding.  Then in five minutes it was deboarding.  They said there would be a three hour "maintenance".  The plane was missing a valve or something.  Here is the port engine with its hood up waiting for a part.  Three hours later we would be part of a crowd applauding a thumbs up from the mechanic.  The rest had all rebooked.  So anyhow we finally got to Atlanta, somehow managed to get all those bags in one of those hotel shuttle vans--a driver from another hotel offered to take just us and the baggage.  It wasn't a pretty sight getting curbside--since we couldn't find any big carts.

The photographer wasn't feeling well in Atlanta.  Consequently, we don't have any pictures of the nice hotel and all.  We had a pleasant morning there.  It was sunny, the WIFI was free, the people friendly, and our last American breakfast buffet good.  But now Doug had a sore throat.  Soon we both realized we had new colds.  Otherwise, things were looking up for the rest of the trip.  We set off alone in the hotel van and drove right up to curbside baggage service.  They didn't recharge us for all that baggage--our only victory with Delta.  Things seemed fine until Doug said he didn't know where his passport was.  Doug knows that when I really get upset I go all quiet.  I remember just saying, "I don't believe this, I don't even know what to say..."  After he left to go back and get the passport that he was hoping was still in our hotel room, I did say a few choice things to the clerk who was very nice and understanding of Doug--more than I admit  I was.  So we went through security after the return of the passport and the flight was longgggggggggggg and tiring but landed in Rome!!!

Vince came out of the oversize baggage door after we told the guys helping us (Doug used his Spanilano while I was getting the bags off the carosel) that we were waiting for un cane.  They had no worries about yelling at the luggage crew to get the dog.  No document checking, no nothing.  Just another piece of baggage and out the door--also no Customs.  Gotta love Italy.

The only fun left was driving from Rome to Santa Domenica.  The autostrada was not very crowded, we remembered the route, and it all went well even though we both were sick.  Vince turned out to be the strongest traveler.  We passed some new sights on back roads during a rest stop:

We arrived in Santa Domenica during passeggiata so everyone immediately knew the Americani were back.  We saw our front door and fairly quickly got all that stuff inside--with some local help:
So now all that is left is......Life!  See you here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Last Post from the USA

He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. But what he did not know was that it was already behind him, somewhere in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.   


I picked this American classic to read while sitting on the floor (no furniture) the last few days of our lives in Hood River.  It's eerie and beautiful and somehow perfect for saying goodbye to the US.  
We ran out of room and weight in our baggage.  We each have three bags, one or two of which are overweight, the dog in a big cage, and Doug's golf club bag.  I thought I would hate that bag since it is costing us plenty with Delta...but it's turning out to be the savior of my hiking boots.   
I have always felt slightly foolish keeping touching cards and notes from people over the years.  These memories are consigned to the mail to avoid the tears involved with seeing them in the trash.  We have last minute banking and other post office duties to do, but mostly we are done.  We had better be--we delivered our car to its new owner yesterday.  We still have a few "goodbye" dates and lunches but most people are now in the "see you in Italy" stage of painless farewells.


...for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Calabria's Reverse Immigration

I've been reading a lot of controversial material on expat blogs of late concerning immigration (Consider this on Expats in Italy).  It's not the only place this sort of conversation occurs, it's just the last one I remember.
I'm about to become an immigrant to a place and a country that has in the past sent many a immigrant to the US.  It's hard to imagine the US without the contributions of the Italian culture.  Some of the work I was connected with in the Columbia River Gorge had a direct link to the work of Italian immigrants.  The restoration of the Historic Columbia River Highway (reopening of the Oneonta Tunnel pictured below) made me aware of the fact that much of work was done by Italian artisans.


My mother's family came from "Mayflower" stock but they were immigrants, just older ones.  My father's mother came to Chicago "off the boat" from Poland.  She never spoke English to me.  Everyone was sure she knew it, but she never spoke it.  We are a country made in great part by immigrants and enriched by them beyond measure.  But we STILL resent immigrants??  I will never understand this if I live to be 100.
Not only are we busy resenting our own immigration, now we are resenting fellow emigrants to Italy?
I'm about to become an immigrant to Calabria and will live in housing that could have been abandoned by the very people who helped build America.  I just hope I can in some small way contribute to the understanding of the value of immigrants in general, and Doug and I in particular.

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