Sorry to disappoint: other than having to go out to this ugly place -- someone called it Guantanamo before I left on this excursion -- the experience was virtually painless. I may have had the quickest trip there of anyone. If I had been able to crack even one smile out of the ten government officials I encountered, it would have been a delightful afternoon. Despite the illicit feel to the neighborhood, and the grungy office, and the waiting room that was no better than any other -- blue plastic chairs, a screen announcing whose ticket has come up, smell of hours wasting away -- all went easily and quickly.
Nevertheless, here are two small details of bureaucratic interest. First, upon entering I put my backpack through the scanner. Three soldiers got all excited because it appeared I had metal in there. I had left my pocket knife at home, but I certainly had some metal objects in there. I was told to empty the bag. Out comes the phone charger and tin can of mints. No, that was not the problem. Headphones. Nope. Small metal spoon. Yes! Everyone relaxed. I go to pick up the spoon. Finger wag. "You must leave it here. Pick it up after your appointment." So, I left my teaspoon and, yes, I retrieved it later, feeling all the safer knowing that the building had been clear of dangerous tableware.
And then there was the fact that I had to have all my fingers fingerprinted. Fair enough. All done, I went back to a different office....only to have the fingers fingerprinted again. The funny thing is that both times I was fingerprinted on a digital scanner, which might suggest that the finger prints would be accessible on the office's server. Alas, no.
Part 3 comes in a few weeks, when I go to retrieve my actual permesso from the Trastevere police station. Stay tuned....