16 – la cancelleria

So, we needed to get our Birth and Marriage Certificates translated into Italian.  Therefore I spent several days with our huge tome of a dictionary, working on this exceedingly challenging task, and eventually printed off the translations to be checked by Guido.  He awarded me seven out of ten for my efforts, but there are certain official words that just do not translate easily.  Guido was wonderful and patiently amended the transcripts so that they made better sense. 

Now “all we had to do” was to get the translations officially authenticated as being accurate and true, but had no idea of how to accomplish this.  We tried ringing the British Embassy in Rome for advice, but this turned out to be a complete waste of time, as we just got recorded messages saying that the Embassy was no longer open to the public, and only dealt with matters through the post, otherwise to consult the information on their web-site. 

On the website we eventually hit upon a link to a list of approved translators, however they all seemed to be based in Rome ……… until we scrolled, down, down, almost to the bottom of the page and there we found one ……………….. in Gaeta … Bravo!!! “

We phoned the lady immediately.  She was English and very helpful and friendly, and advised us that as we had already translated the documents, we could save ourselves a lot of money, as there was a relatively new law that made it possible for anyone to “self-certify” a document.  However, to do this one had to visit the Cancelleria” department in the “comune” (probably the equivalent to visiting a Commissioner of Oaths in the UK). She also added that if we needed any further help or advice, she would be very happy to assist.  How wonderful – A new friend, that spoke our native tongue !!!

We dashed off, post haste, with Guido’s teenage son Peppe to help us out. However after climbing seemingly interminable flights of energy sapping marble stairs, we arrived at the very top of the building, desperately gasping for breath.  The corridor was bustling with Armani suited businessmen, with leather briefcases in hand, some with  jackets draped nonchalantly over their shoulders.

Abruptly, Peppe was taken aside and firmly reprimanded for wearing shorts in an official building, and was asked to leave the premises directly.  Thankfully we managed to find the “Cancelleria” department and queuing patiently, were successful in obtaining the necessary forms.  We were instructed that we needed to buy some  “Franco di bolli” (official government duty stamps, which are required to legalise many Italian official documents.  These stamps come in various values and can be purchased from a tobacconist’s shop known as a Tabaccheria”.

By now it was almost lunchtime, and the town hall was soon due to shut, and with it being a Friday it would not be open in the afternoon, of course!   So over the weekend we had plenty of time to complete the forms. 

So bright eyed and busy tailed on the following Monday morning we presented ourselves once again at the “Cancelleria” with various sets of forms and of very expensive “Franco di bolli” costing (at that time) about 18 euros per document.  Giovanna offered to accompany us. 

The lady official stuck her tongue out and licked each set of stamps and stuck them onto each form, which in turn was stapled to the original certificate and the translated copy.  Giovanna was asked to sign her name on each and every page of the document, having taken an oath that the translations of the certificates were in fact true and accurate.  Each bundle of papers was allocated a number and these were then entered, by hand, in an enormous leather bound register.  Each and every page of the documents was then heavily rubber stamped, indeed I think the signora found this to be the best part of her job, as she performed it with such gusto.  Finally, we exited the comune” skipping down the steps, triumphantly waving the papers in our hands.  

Next we revisited the Agenzia delle Entrate” to change my surname on my Codice Fiscale” . This was a soulless, echoing building of fairly new construction.  As directed we took a numbered ticket and then sat anxiously in the uncomfortable plastic chairs watching the illuminated board waiting for our number to come up.  Progress seemed painfully slow, and we were concerned that the office might soon close for lunch, no doubt just before it got to our number.  However thankfully, that day the gods were on our side, and with all the right translated documentation to hand altering my name turned out to be a remarkably simple and painless procedure.  Thank goodness or meno male” as the Italians say. 

It felt very strange though, signing on the dotted line in my maiden name, something I hadn’t done for many a year.

Some good news – We made further enquiries and it seemed that we were not required to have our “Permesso di Soggiornos”  in order to purchase the house.  Also, we learned that if we bought a house in the district of Itri we would have to register at “La Questura” in the town of Fondi, so thankfully we would not have to deal again with the aforementioned green eyed “strega”.


Chapter 17 – time to move on


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