So, I got my Carta di Soggiorno. Now, I had to get it updated to show I live in the new Province so that I could register with the new Comune.
Ah, Ascoli, I knew I liked you, but after visiting your questura, with its l lovely chair-filled room, its lack of crowds and its little tray in which to place my documenti, (not to mention your glassed-in teller area), I think I may be in love.
We arrived in the afternoon, to an empty office. I placed my papers in the tray and took a seat.
The woman called my name, took my new photobooth photos from me, gave me a form, told me how to fill it out for a change of Permesso/Carta and then…. Then, she asked me if I wanted to come back in two weeks, on 25 February, or if I’d rather they give it to the Carabinieri. In the town where I lived!
Salerno, you need to take some lessons from Ascoli.
We returned on the 25th and the new, revised CdiS was handed over. A small exchange with the uniformed woman behind the glass about the difference between the Questura of Salerno (“Che cassino! Cinque mesi per la prima permesso!”) and this one, and we were off to the Agenzia dell’Entrate for my codice fiscale.
The codice fiscale is something like our social security number. But different. In Italy, you are assigned this number, a combination of letters in your name, your birth date and who knows what else on a small, credit-card like plastic card. You need this for everything from getting a SIM card for a mobile phone, to buying a car, to signing an apartment rental contract or setting up a bank account.
At the Agenzia dell’Entrate, we found out I all ready had one. We have no idea how. I never applied for one. Maybe, it was done by the wedding planners when they organized our wedding back in 2009. Maybe it was done by the questura in Salerno when I applied for my first permesso. No matter. I now just had to wait for the card to arrive in the mail and then I could do anything. Like apply for a health card. Or by cigarettes from a machine. Oooh, the possibilities.
Next stop, Comune. Armed, again, with every document we had, we stopped in at the anagrafe to register.
Marriage certificate? Check.
Rental contract? Check
Birth certificate? Check. Wait.
Back up. When we were collecting paperwork for our wedding, I needed to get my long form birth certificate from the NYS Department of Health, with an Apostille from the US State Department.
Problem: NYS couldn’t find it.
“Have you ever had any other names?”
“No!” I replied. Wait. “Um, yeah. My mom decided to change my name two weeks after I was born.”
“Oh. No one ever told us. These days, the hospital would notify us but back when you were born, it was up to the parents. No problem. I can do it for you now.”
So, my long form, apostilled birth certificate that is on file at the Comune looks like this:
This? Not the problem.
And I never changed my last name after we got married, much to my mother’s dismay. But, see, I thought I might want to live in the E.U. someday. And I knew getting Italian citizenship thru my marriage to V. might make that easier. And I knew women in Italy don’t take their husband’s names. I figured things would be much easier, bureaucratically, if we ever moved here. Point for me, no?
No. See, the first name wasn’t a problem and the last name never changed. The problem was the middle name.
My birth certificate has it. No other document since my college diploma does. Which means my current passport and therefore my permesso and my codice fiscale don’t. In italy, this is impossible. Every document has the complete, parent-given name of every Italian on it.
I explained to Mirella that I don’t use my middle name. With the aid of google translate on my Macbook at her desk.
“What do you mean? You must. You cannot just change your name. Your name is your name. How anyone knows who is you?”
“Wellll. In the US, you can call yourself whatever you want. I don’t use my middle name on anything. See?” I replied, showing her my driver’s license, my credit cards, all without my middle name, just like my passport and my Carta di Soggiorno.
“Eh, but Italy is not US.” No, it’s not. We do not have several people in one town with the same first and last names, the only difference being the birth dates.
“What you do when you change comune?”
“Uh, in US, you just change. You move. You don’t register.” Yet another difference between the US and here.
“Siii????” she asked, incredulous. “No must register? Eh, here is different. Not US.” Ain’t that the truth. “Different names, different people. How we know is you?”
“But, look. My photo on my passport. My photo on my CdiS. My official birth certificate. The same. No problem for Questura,” I tried, thinking maybe we could just go with the precedent set by the Questura.
“Si. I know is you. But how do we prove it is you if documents not all same? You must change.”
“Change my passport? And, oh god, my permesso? Do you know how long it took me to get? Or change my birth certificate?” My head reeled. Documents. Legal fees. Dollar signs blurred my vision.
“Maybe I get document saying they are both me?” I ventured, recalling something I’d read on an expat site.
“Eh, maybe. You try. And you learn Italian. Very important.”
“Yes, yes. I try. Is very difficult! Grazie. Ciao!”
And that’s how I saw the inside of the US Embassy in Rome. No cameras or cell phones allowed.
The good news is Mirella accepted the affidavit, translated by me (thanks again, google translate) and signed by the US Consul. The bad news is I don’t know if the Minister of the Interior will do the same when reviewing my application for citizenship. And then there’s that tricky bit about the first six months I was here but not registered in any Comune. At least the Comune and I now agree on who I am...