Tony went by himself to the comune yesterday, chocolates in hand. When he walked into the chocolate shop, there was a man in front of him in line who got a delectable sample platter, so Tony just ordered the same thing when he got to the front of the line. When he walked into the comune a few minutes later, he saw the same man, who is actually an employee at the anagrafe. When he saw Tony, he told everyone the funny story of the American who was behind him in line and copied his order.

Teresa was not impressed. She immediately pushed the chocolates aside and reached for Tony’s documents. He had purposely left the overwhelming binder at home and brought only Domenico’s new birth certificate from the parish (the priest had obligingly written us up a little letter), Domenico’s “illegible” death certificate with Julio’s translation and my formatting to make it look as much like the original as possible, and a simplified table of contents showing only the necessary documents and noting the five documents that Teresa said needed work.

Tony put his hand on the documents and said, “Before I start, Sarah and I want to give you something, because we know this is a difficult case and it’s creating a lot of extra work for you.” His glanced around the room and noticed that her keyboard, monitor, computer, and printer each had little signs taped on them saying “non toccare” — “don’t touch.” It took her a while to warm up, but by the end of the meeting they were laughing and talking.

Silvia, still trying to work on the problem of permission to stay, said that she had identified three possible options. The first was to own land. Tony asked if she was selling her house, and everyone laughed. The second option was to find some kind of work in Italy. Tony said with a straight face that he works full time and didn’t have any spare time for another job. However, he might consider working part time at the gelateria if there were free ice cream involved.

They seemed to have the impression that we are just silly Americans who will go home after our vacation if the whole citizenship lark doesn’t pan out. Teresa has no idea that we have spent the past two months performing the Herculean task of moving our life to italy. Tony told her we have set up a bank account and are paying to get the documents translated. These sorts of “concrete” things (signing a contract, setting up a bank account, getting a fiscal code, etc.) are helping her to see that if she denies us, she will really be affecting our life.

I had created a cleaned-up table of contents, minus the non-Italian line and showing clearly what Teresa wanted us to change about the documents. However, she waved it away, took the original table of contents (liberally written up with all of her notes about which documents were not acceptable and which might possibly work–she doesn’t like to start out saying “yes” to anything) and went over and made a photocopy of it.

Tony showed her the new birth certificate for Domenico. She was annoyed that the priest had still not made an actual birth certificate, and it was still in Latin, but when Tony pointed out finally that priests just don’t make birth certificates, she grudgingly agreed. After all, it was Lagnasco, just 5 kilometers away, and she decided that she could just call the priest if anything needed to be cleared up.

Next, Tony brought out Domenico’s death certificate, which Teresa had justly proclaimed illegible last time. After all, I spent hours poring and puzzling over it, and I speak English. However, prettied up and translated into Italian, it didn’t look nearly so daunting. Teresa still said she had very large doubts about the legibility of the document. “I couldn’t translate this,” she frowned, over her glasses. “That might be true,” quipped Tony. After comparing the documents, she acknowledged that the translation was good, but still expressed doubts that it could have been done from the actual certificate and not the supplementary photocopy supplied by vital records.

Since there was nothing we could do about changing the letters from the L.D.S. Church that we had decided to use in lieu of Domenico’s marriage and Louis’ birth certificates, Tony didn’t bring them. Silvia ventured the opinion that they might be O.K. if the letter contains all the important information (parents, birthday, name). The letters do contain that information, so hopefully we’ve paved the way for their acceptance.

All in all, Tony thought the meeting went perfectly, even though he didn’t actually get a letter saying we need Permesso di Soggiorno. At first, Teresa asked how long ago we had gotten here, and expressed doubt that we could possibly be ready within the month or so we have left on a tourist visa. Then Tony told her we’d signed a six-month rental contract with Luigi Fassino, and she shook her head. Hopefully that makes it a little more awkward and difficult for her to deny us.

Poor Julio has been working feverishly on the translations and should be done this weekend. So next week we’ll take them in to the Tribunale for their stamps, and then Tony will go back to the Comune for what we anticipate will be the last time before we get Permesso di Soggiorno. We’re already cutting it a little close for my taste, but it can’t be helped. It makes the adventure more exciting to contemplate imminent deportation, right?

What do you think?