First Time

We’ve just been staying at our hotel here in Saluzzo till the gas gets hooked up in our apartment. This takes a long time in Italy. We can’t apply for citizenship until we have a permanent place to live, but I wanted to learn whether the comune will accept translations done by a friend or if there needs to be a certified translator. We also thought they might give us the letter we need to take to the Questura to get our Permesso di Soggiorno per Attessa di Cittadinanza (permission to stay while applying for citizenship), even though we don’t move in till next week.

We walked into the Palazzo di la Citta, which is coincidentally right across the street from our new apartment. It is an imposing structure, at least a few centuries old, with the characteristic crowned “S” on a coat of arms above the door (this symbol is even found on all the garbage cans around the city). After poring over the building map for some time, we decided to go up to the first floor, where the offices and secretary were supposed to be located. We got out of the elevator and wandered around, finally deciding to enter one of several rooms marked “secretary.”

The man inside waited very patiently as Tony took a deep breath and repeated the sentence he had been practicing all the way up: “Vorrei pedire riconoscimento di la cittadinanza Italiana, perche il nonno di mi nonna e nascito in Lagnasco.” (I would like to ask for recognition of Italian citizenship, because my grandmother’s grandfather was born in Lagnasco). It was evidently the first time he had ever encountered such a request, but after some deliberation he decided that we ought to go the the anagrafe, which deals with birth certificates, civil status, and things like that. It was in the Piazza Cavour, he told us, right by the Cinema Italia.

We thanked him and started down the hill, feeling at least a bit better at having actually presented our request to someone, even if he had nothing whatever to do with it. After a detour at the Finance Office, which is right next door (after some attempts at explanation, we had to produce our two Circolares (memos) about citizenship to the information desk to explain what we needed), we arrived at the anagrafe. Luckily, we had started early, so it was not yet midday, when everything closes down for three hours.

We walked into the anagrafe, and again tried to decipher all the instructions and labels on various doors and windows and bulletin boards. A woman motioned us to her window. Tony said his sentence again, this time with more confidence. But the person behind the window was not too interested, and was quite bothered at our limited Italian. She finally told us to come back on Tuesday at 3:00, when someone who spoke English would be one duty.

We weren’t too disappointed to be passed along to someone else. She wasn’t exactly the sympathetic ally we desperately need. Hopefully the person on Tuesday will like us. We’ll have to dress our children up especially nicely and give Axa instructions to be very cute and on her best behavior. Nearly without exception, Italians love children, and Axa and Raj have become accustomed to being made much of on a daily basis. Sometimes Axa gets a few too many sweets as a result, but generally it makes everything go more smoothly and painlessly.