Javier and I felt a renewed sense of freedom and purpose after finalizing my official residence in Florence and finally picking up our new car. To make things even better we now had enough documentation to begin the process for Javier’s Italian visa known lovingly as the permesso di soggiorno. A permesso di soggiorno allows foreigners to legally live and work in Italy. With just two weeks left of Javier’s 90-day visa, we were starting to feel anxious about it being completed on time.
This new task weighed heavy on our minds. As a new citizen I felt especially responsible to ensure my husband was considered a legal resident in Italy and Europe. The pains of hurtling through the Italian bureaucracy to establish my residency were still fresh in our minds, so we decided to go with our lawyer to ensure we completed all legal requirements correctly.
Our lawyer explained that the process to complete Javier’s permesso di soggiorno would be relatively simple due to the fact that he is married to me, an Italian citizen. I remember thinking, “is there any process in Italy that could be considered simple?” but decided not to comment out loud.
Two days later we found ourselves in line at the Questura, which is basically a police headquarters where services like obtaining a passport, and permesso di soggiorno are processed. Javier and I found that the line had already wrapped around an entire city block by the time we arrived at 7am. We didn’t even make it to the front door before 9am. Thankfully our cheerful and energetic lawyer Tommaso arrived as we were stepping into the building to receive a number.
I imagine the Questura is much like any other immigration office around the globe jam packed with hopeful yet depressed looking foreigners with children running wild through the halls while others continually scream in their mother’s arms. Somehow I managed to find a seat next some friendly Albanian women that were cracking jokes to the embarrassment of their youngest companion who continually scowled while covering her face as they laughed.
Three hours later we found ourselves in front of an agent who was asking us for paperwork we didn’t know existed. We were to return the following day with all of the listed documents and given an appointment. Thankfully we were able to obtain all of the required documents from the Firenze Anagrafe office, and we returned to the Questura line 30 minutes prior to our appointment time the next day. As it turns out “an appointment” with the Questura roughly translates to “wait in line for hours, your appointment slip is worthless”.
Roughly 4 hours later we were face to face with a young agent who didn’t ask for any of the items we were told to provide from the Firenze Anagrafe office; no surprises there. Tommaso assisted us in filling out the final forms to begin Javier’s permesso di soggiorno and he was provided with one final “appointment” to have his fingerprints taken. We were told his fingerprints would take a month to process, after which his permesso would be sent by mail.
We left the office that day beaming with joy. We had successfully completed another step towards the mission to establish residency in Italy. A great weight had been lifted from our shoulders, so we celebrated with a trip to some natural Tuscan hot springs. We decided to go explore Terme San Fillipo, which is roughly 2 ½ hours away from Florence with our new friends from school (but unfortunately only one was able to make it).