The Friday before my appointment at the Questura, I decided to make a “trial run” to the location to make sure I knew how to get there and where it was. My appointment was at 9 am on Monday morning, and I am not used to getting up at the god awful time of the day, and I knew my faculties would not be at their best. Besides, in Italy, I have difficulty finding things. I needed to take the bus because of the distance, and public transportation has its challenges. This is not an Italy thing, this is public transportation in general. Having used public transportation in Boston, I can say that knowing where to go and how to get there on public transportation is a real art.
Anyway, the trial run turned out to be a great idea, considering I got on the wrong bus once, and missed the stop the second time. I was on the bus in excess of 2 hours, primarily because I had nothing else to do and it was a good cheap way to see parts of the city that I hadn’t seen before. I located the Questura, and felt secure about my plan for Monday…..at least that part of the plan.
Not know what to expect is the hardest part sometimes. There is the issue of legal documents, a foreign language, and government employees. Governments seem to have strong similarities wherever you go. I got up early, having not slept well anyway from the anxiety of it all, and made my way to the bus stop and found the Questura with no problems in about 15 minutes. I arrived at the station at 8:20 a.m. for a 9:05 “appointment”. There were about 200 people there…of all nationalities, trying to figure out what to do next. Seeing a policeman behind a roped off line area, I told him in Italian that I had an appointment for my Permesso. He asked to see the letter for the appointment, and then he gave me a number to watch for on the board. I went inside and waited. There were about 6 windows opened, and my number was 179, and they were on 33. Wishing I had brought a book, my IPOD or at least had some breakfast, I luckily found a place to sit, and wait, and wait, and wait. I noticed from watching the other people who were ahead of me that they approached the window, handed the clerk the letter for the appointment, and received another number. It appeared to be some type of sorting system based on what transaction you were trying to accomplish.
After 2 hours, my number was called, and I went to the window to show my passport, and the letter of appointment. I received another number and returned to my seat to wait. The waiting wasn’t boring, as the people from all over the world were quite entertaining. There were couples, and individuals, and families all there to transact with the immigration services of Italy. There were a few “heated” moments, which were loud, but I was unable to determine what exactly was happening, and one man was escorted out by the police. Frankly, I can understand the frustration. This is not an easy process.
Going through the process, gives a different perspective on immigration in general, and I wonder about the difficulties folks experience in the USA. It is easy to see why there might be a lot of “illegal” immigrants, because if you don’t understand the language or have access to the internet or other information sources, I really don’t know how you do it!
Anyway, after my 2nd two hour wait, I was called to the window, and asked for the letter, my passport, and 4 passport sized photos. No other documents were requested. I then had to give my fingerprints individually on a small machine outside the window, at the instruction of the clerk. Once the fingerprints where done, and I had signed a small card, which I believe he used to identify the fingerprints, I was given another letter with another appointment for October 19, at 2:46 pm. It seems I might actually get the document at that appointment!!!!! Yeah! Stay tuned!