Intriguing Government Buildings and People Who May Be Cats in Disguise.

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In this week’s “tungsten lit” blog we visit several intriguing government buildings here in Italy that you’ll have to learn to navigate such as the Italian Anagrafe Service or Servizio Demografico, and the Agenzia Entrata.   These old buildings “time warp” you into a nostalgic yellow glow in which the electronic signature has yet to be invented so, bring a Pen! your lust for Chaos! Your admiration for the Preposterous!  And your love of People who may indeed be Cats in disguise and, let’s go!

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  1. The obtainment of an Italian carta identita

On the 3rd of march I turned in my marca da bolla seidici or marca da bolla sixteen (all these terms are explained in detail below) and a passport sized photograph to the anagrafe or servizio demografico.  I was digitally fingerprinted three times with each index finger, “su…giu…su… giu….su …e…giu…..” by a man sitting behind a sportello or window who reminded me of a cuddly orange and blue eyed cat from say, Finland or Ireland: until we got to chattering away and the letter C utterly vanished into a pudding of sounds lacking even the slightest hint of consonation. “Orange cat man” confirmed that, ahhh yes… you are here for a HAARRTA …NOT a carta. My bad for showing up at the designated time and place requesting a CARTA!

AVVISO: We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to bring you a complimentary bottle of HOKA HOLA thus welcoming you to Siena or the Toscana region of Italy, ladies and gentlemen.


Success! My identity card will arrive in one week yet “orange bespectacled cat man” gave me a temporary “card” which is a piece of paper with a barcode to track the mailing of it to my residence. The downside to obtaining the identity card before my Italian Citizenship is finalized, is that I have to obtain a new card once it is.  However, I can make my own appointment to do it! You may recall, my dear readers, that I’d encountered another orangey cat with blue eyes yet in the form of a lady Italian police officer who visited me to prove the residency.  Therefore, take note: Maybe the Italian police and the people who work in the government services are actually, Cats. Cats that shapeshift. Gucci Cats in Versace.

Pro tip: praying to the patron saint of Italy, Giorgio Armani, who apropos of nothing designs the police uniforms won’t help you get an appointment at these government buildings.  If you wish to obtain your carta identita, you must first possess a carta identita in order to book an appointment to get one!  Does it make sense? No. this is ITALIA in all of its tri-colored glory. So have your lawyer, or an Italian friend make the appointment for you with their card.

Prada Cats aside, I thought I was prepared for this appointment with just my passport but the clerk said to me, “is that all you have?” He was asking me for MORE identification, which made me nervous so I showed him my global entry card and explained exactly what that is. In order to obtain the global entry card I was interviewed, fingerprinted, and background checked by the FBI, etc. This REALLY impressed him. So my advice to you is BRING ALL of your identification and if you run into a situation like this, defend yourself!

For your new life in Italy you’ll need to “do the things” and Italy has its own way of accomplishing “the things” so I’ve compiled a few definitions to clarify what you’ll need for the Italian identity card and more.

  • Purchase a marca da bollo seidici at a tabbacheria or post office. This is a little stamp that costs sixteen euros and serves like a sort of tax. You place the marca da bollo on the top document or form that you are turning in for a service.  You’ll also need a marca da bollo seidici when you turn in your documents for Italian citizenship.
  • There are foto tessere or photo booths that are self-service, as well as little shops that will take your picture for a fee.  You’ll need these photos for your Italian passport, identity card, a driver’s license and more.
  • The appointment itself: arrive early. For my identity card I arrived twenty minutes early, because there can, in fact there will be, a “chit chat” in these places. For example, after “security man” (who was really a wiry, handsome, and bespectacled tabby cat with a shy grin behind a mascherina) scanned my green pass, I had to wait behind the first of a number of windows to explain what I was there for and to say “yes I have an appointment.”  But the lady who does the check-in decided to make a personal phone call after looking at me like; yes… I see you…smirky happy face… and chattered away for ten minutes before she turned back to me with a smiley “prego.” She was definitely some type of Cheshire Cat. Indeed, there are a few lurking in these old buildings that are Cheshire in nature. So, be alert.
  • They don’t speak English. Speak Italian to them.
  • Make sure you know your height in the metric system! My driver’s license has my height in inches and feet. The nice man, an orange cat… truly… said “vieni con me….” Come with me and gestured for me to follow him to the wall where indeed he had a “thingy” hung on the wall for the purposes of measuring height in the metric system. He measured me and made a note to “minus” my shoes.
  • You can have your identity card delivered to your residence via poste italiane or you can can pick it up in person. Mine indeed arrived on Tuesday at my residence and I’d only applied on that Friday prior.  This is your choice, but it may indeed be wiser to request to pick up your card in person.
  • The appointment at the comune to turn in my documents for Italian citizenship!

They LOVE me at the Servizio Demografico!  I’ve been in that office three times (at the time of this writing.)  With a locked suitcase full of documents that I’d gathered for my citizenship Julie and I sauntered into piazza del campo prepared to turn them in! Julie, my lawyer with the Smart Move Italy team booked the appointment with HER IDENTITY CARD. After handing over the documents to a lady clerk, who was really a Siamese Cat… I actually felt quite sad in that, I’ve been protecting them for years: Birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates etc. The two toned catty lady we spoke with was kind to both of us and accepted the application!  However, we were warned that the process could take up to six months, only because they have to contact all the consulates in US that are in accord with prior addresses for myself, my Father and my Grandfather, which is a bummer. It is a bummer because my Grandfather never renounced his Italian citizenship and my cousin who is a daughter of my Fathers brother already has her Italian citizenship (through the same Grandfather.) The consulate checks were done! I explained all this to the clerk who gave pause for a minute….and then she asked me which comune my cousin had applied at. I told her, Bologna, so maybe things will go faster. But I’m not counting on it. The Italian consulates in US are a disaster.

Things seemed to be going well until another lady in the same anagrafe office informed us that there was a problem with my codice fiscale. This gave me a panic attack that I managed to suppress. It turns out, that the CF I obtained when I lived in the south was wrong. When my cousins in Calabria requested it they spelled my name wrong. We have the same last name! So, no bother there but my first name is LisA not LisE…they thought it was LisE ending in a E so all this time my CF had an incorrect first name. Consequently, Julie and I were rapidly directed to the office of the Agenzia Entrata around the corner but it was closing in twenty minutes…  We moved as fast as possible over uneven stones and up and down several flights of stairs and made it to that office with 10 minutes to spare!  But the man, the “door guard” who has nothing to do but stand there and look important told us “no you can’t – we are closed.” Julie explained, “how can you be closed there is still 7 minutes you are not closed!” And we were let in. We quickly filled out a form, took a number and waited. Then we were directed to a window with a testy lady who was like, COSA”? after Julie and I both talked to “testy lady” who, incidentally looked like an exasperated gray cat that needed adopting at the shelter, warmed up to us. After some time, she even smiled at us behind the mascherina and handed me a piece of paper with the correct name attributed to my CF. As we departed the Agenzia Entrata I wondered why “vexed lady” was so cross?  Therefore, I silently wished her well in that she’d be adopted and soon by one of the numerous Cats inhabiting these government offices. Or perhaps the bulldog or “door guard” who tried to shoo us away. J

In sum: no matter how prepared you are the people, the “Cats” in these old Italian government buildings will challenge you in various ways. And you’ll need Italian friends, a team you hire, or an Italian lawyer to make the appointments for you until you obtain your own carta identita. They will argue with you a bit yet in a subtle way… For example, “orange bespectacled cat man” challenged my passport as a form of identification.  At first, these encounters are often like a “what do you want and why are you here” kind of thing. So be prepared to explain “the things” to them. Stand up for yourself. Behind the hissiest of Cats is a person that stands in-between you and the thing you need to get done. Treat them well and you should be fine.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short blog post!  and I’d love to hear more about your experience with these government offices, if you are already here, so we can help others who are bewildered by these processes.

Until next week! Be safe and stay well.

Lisa P.

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