We learned that we needed to apply for a “Permesso Di Soggiorno“, sometimes also referred to as a “Carta Di Soggiorno“, permission to stay in the country, for a period of more than 90 days. We wanted to be sure of exactly which documents we needed to present to the authorities in order to be granted this certificate.
Here we found a particularly unreceptive, lady official, with lurid green eye make-up and brown lipstick. We were not sure if she had another profession, but we could have sworn we’d seen a broomstick parked outside. We greeted her politely in Italian, saying that we were British, and requested some information regarding applying for our permits.
“What?” she said incredulously, “You should have applied for the Visas from the Italian Consulate in your own country of origin. Surely you know that !!! “.
But ….. ??? We tried to explain that we were citizens of the UK and of the EU, which gave us the right to ………………………
But t’was in vain – she would have none of it. She continued to intimidate us by asking where we were currently residing. We replied honestly: “In a caravan on a campsite near Sant’ Agostino beach.” “What ???” – she said !!! I think she envisioned us as “zingarelle” – gypsies! “How on earth can you possibly expect to get a Permesso di Soggiorno if you have no proper fixed address !!! It is all highly irregular!!!” she declared.
Brusquely she said she would have to contact the Provincial Police Headquarters for advice, and insisted that we should come back on Saturday morning. This was rather odd as later we found out that the “Questura” is actually shut on Saturdays !!!
So, we limped off, with our tails between our legs, feeling very despondent, depressed, confused, and frustrated. What on earth was to be done? This had been our first dose of culture shock.
We returned to the campsite and proceeded to relate our tale of woe to Pasquale. “These Officials – they know nothing!!!” he said, “All they want is their pay cheque at the end of the month, and to do as little work as possible. If they are in a bad mood you’ve had it!” It seemed that Italian bureaucracy was as much a “thorn in the side” of Italian citizens as it was to us foreigners. We soon learned that in Italy the wheels grind painfully slowly.
We re-consulted our books and internet articles, to once again check our entitlements. We also asked Guido to check things out for us on the official Italian Government website. Yes !!! Of course we were right all along !!!
Please note that there have been changes in Italian Law, now all EU citizens no longer need to apply for the “Carta di Soggiorno”.
This document has since been abolished. You can read more about this here