I think our feelings, both of excitement at good news and horror at bad news may be permanently numbed by this experience. Monday bright and early we rode the bus down to our new little town. We hadn’t heard from Carla and Giorgio since Thursday, and they hadn’t been at Church on Sunday. We hoped they weren’t all deathly ill, or else too stressed out about dealing with this whole process to do it any more. But we decided to go down on Monday anyway, to pick up the famous letter from Gianfranco saying that we are indeed applying for citizenship jure sanguinis.
Gianfranco was there, and better yet, he was all ready to do it. We still held our breaths as Tony signed three or four papers during the inscription process. But finally, Gianfranco gave him one letter that was a sort of receipt for being inscribed in the comune, and another actually stating that he had been inscribed for the purpose of completing the process of jure sanginis citizenship. I would have kissed Gianfranco right then, except that he was behind glass. Perhaps we’ll content ourselves with taking him chocolates.
Giorgio said not to blame Teresa or Gianfranco or any government employee if they don’t want to do something. They get paid so little that their reaction is to work as little as possible to compensate. His words, not mine. Anyway, Gianfranco was actually quite nice, and he didn’t even try to throw up any more roadblocks.
We left with the precious letter and tried to make it back to the Centro Migrante before it closed at 12:00, but we were ten minutes too late. Yesterday we spent moving into our new apartment, so our first opportunity to fill out our postal kit was this morning.
We arrived at the Centro Migrante and explained what we needed. The woman there sat us right down and logged into the government website, where she quickly filled out the same forms we had been given in the postal kit. There was a little discussion about whether our Declarations of Presence from the hotel were valid or not (my advice to anyone doing this process in Italy is to NOT fly in from another Schengen country. Just get that little arrival stamp in your passport, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble).
They were about to call the Questura, who would have told them who knows what. I was afraid they would send us over there to ask, or something else would happen to prevent things from getting done today. I’ve been in Italy long enough to know that if you’re planning to get multiple errands accomplished in one day (or even one errand that involves any complications) you’re being too optimistic.
So I prudently decided to mention that we had been in a few days before with Alicia, and that she had talked to Bruna, and Bruna had said it was O.K. (I wished I still had the several papers Bruna had printed out for me to convince Gianfranco. But how was I to know I would need them to convince the people in Bruna’s office of what Bruna had said.) Bruna’s name was a magic word, and they quickly decided that the hotel declarations would be fine.
She put the form she’d filled out, along with a copy of Gianfranco’s letter and the declarations, in a new envelope to be mailed, and then instructed us to buy a marca di bollo (the expensive kind), copy every page on Tony’s passport, and then take it in to the post office for them to review it and mail it off to Rome. Eventually, the Questura will call Tony in for an appointment, and then sometime later he will receive his actual Permesso di Soggiorno. However, with the receipt from the Post Office he will be legal in Italy. Wonderful. Everything was going well, finally. But not for long.
Now it was my turn. I asked how we should fill out the postal kit for me. She said not to worry, and that only Tony needed it. That sounded pretty strange to me. I figured she had misunderstood me somehow, since my visa is expiring in two days. However, after explaining it three or four more times in different ways, I realized she understood me perfectly. But she said there is no Permesso di Soggiorno that I can get, and that I should just wait for Tony to get his citizenship and then apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno for family reasons.
She said it wouldn’t be a problem that I was basically illegal until then. After I expressed more concern, she said that if anyone stops me (meaning one of the various types of police, I suppose) I should just present Tony’s documentation and our marriage certificate. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Surely in Italy, the country of official stamps and signatures and marca di bollos, I would need something more official than just my marriage certificate (even if it is already luckily Apostilled, translated, and certified).
She brought over her colleague, who asked casually why we hadn’t begun the process when we first got to Italy. I gave a very short summary of our trials and travails. She agreed with the first lady that I shouldn’t have any problem, especially being from California. California. Great. That solves my problem. Just tell the police I’m from California.
It’s not that I’m so worried someone is going to come deport me. Everyone in this little town knows we’re the Americans from California and the mayor has decreed that we are to become citizens. We don’t have a car, so I’m not in danger of being pulled over and asked for my documents. However, just on philosophical grounds, I really prefer to remain legal.
I guess maybe people applying jure sanguinis are not supposed to bring their families. Still, it seems to me that we can’t be the first ones who have ever tried. We’ll see how it all works out. I’m going to call Alicia tonight and see if she can talk to the amazing Bruna (whom I’ve never actually seen, but Alicia took my baby in to meet her last time, and he was pronounced “bello”) and find out if there’s any way for me to remain legally in Italy.