Monday, January 27, 2014

Bureaucracy, Italian Style

My Italian colleagues may believe there is something uniquely awful about Italian bureaucracy.  But I have heard this as well from colleagues in Argentina and Germany, and the United States.  We almost revel in decrying the awfulness of bureaucratic entanglements.  But I think that each country or city contributes its own particular seasoning to bureaucratic frustrations.  

I love public life and government, as you all well know.  But I am not immune to the petty frustrations that come along sometimes, to test our mettle.

Today, I take the plunge into Italy's bureaucratic soup, in pursuit of my required permesso di soggiorno."  I think it means that I pay a bunch of money both to acquire and file a series of forms which will make my extended stay in this country legal.  I paid nothing for my study visa -- thank you, Italy -- but will be a good bit more for this forms, which includes, to be fair, a contribution to the health care system.  (Of course, to get my visa I had to prove that I have health care that will cover me while in Italy!).

Gianpaolo, a very helpful staff member at the Academy, filled out the forms for me and explained the process.  

I take the forms to the post office and will pay a series of fees for the permesso.  However, although I will pay the fees at the post office, I must go to a tobacco store to purchase the marco di bollo, the stamp that will show that in fact I paid.  In other words, I buy the receipt in one place, for the payment in another.  I will then get a receipt and an appointment for another visit to an office on the edge of the city where I will prove who I am, prove that I am here to study, prove that I paid the fees.  I was urged, as well, to make a copy of the post office's own copy of my receipt -- that is, the one THEY keep in order to return to me my formal card a few months from now -- because it often gets lost in their files.  "Make a copy on a full-size piece of paper," Gianpaolo suggested, "so it is easier for them to find."  Okay!

And then, as is common everywhere, in all bureaucratic encounters,  I will wait.  And at some point, likely months from now, I will be notified that I must return to the post office to pick up the actual card, which will show that I am legally able to be here.  Then, probably a week later, I will fly home.

Buona fortuna!

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