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How to Waste Six Hours

(Applying for your Permesso di Soggiorno)

When applying for your Permesso di Soggiorno you are likely to experience your first dose of culture-shock and begin to have second thoughts
about staying in Italy.

If you are a British (and therefore
EEC) citizen you will find your national status of no help at all.
Arriving at the Ufficio Stranieri, Questura Centrale is a Kafkaesque
experience as you get your first inkling that Italy is virtually a police state.
As well as all your other documents you will need to bring four passport sized photos of yourself and a good book to read as the wait can be a long one. You also need to bring money with you, because the Permesso di Soggiorno, (like any public service or document in Italy) does not come free. The cost last time we looked was (sorry we have to check this, come back in a few days) Also, just like the mafia, it's best to do it in cash. They probably will take a credit card, but I'd be reluctant to give them any excuse to slow up the process,or reject your application because they can't get approval on your card or something.

You should get there to join the ‘queue’ at 7 o’clock in the morning.
What you will discover there though bears no resemblance to a queue, even though a numbered ticket system is in operation. You will find a rabble of people all shouting at a granite-faced civil servant through a hole in the wall. Try to be nice to the assistant though. You will find that English civility still goes a long way. Their job is a hard one and they appreciate the more genteel attitude of the Brits more than the berating tones of representatives from the many other nations you will be squashed up against the glass with. If you get seen that day and they take in your application, you will hopefully
be asked to return that afternoon to collect your very own Permesso Di Soggiorno.
Once you have it, look after it like gold dust.
You must keep it on you at all times as you may be asked by a policeman or carabinieri to produce it as ID, anytime, anywhere. However, if you lose it you are in queer street again, so it is perhaps best to keep only a photocopy of it with you and keep the original at home. If the fuzz don’t like the photocopy, politely argue that it seems
the most sensible course of action from your point of view. They may (and will!) come to your house anytime to see the real article. In fact it is routine for traffic wardens (of all people) to call where
you are staying to see your papers after you have been in Italy for a few weeks.
You’d better still be living there and have your papers or all hell will break loose.
Still wanna come and live in Italy?

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