As much as I enjoy writing, Italy sure makes for a lovely photo model, posing so seductively for all of our snapshots. She tricks us into believing that we’re better photographers than we really are.
Honestly, I don’t have a lot of patience for all the photo-sharing going on these days, but it’s hard to resist the allure of Instagram. It was the fastest growing social media platform of 2014, and will likely be for 2015, too. But anyone who’s tried it will tell you that it’s a different sort of beast than Facebook or Twitter. For one thing, it’s a “closed loop;” there’s no linking out to external sites. Also, you can’t share other people’s photos (at least not with the native tools), and you can’t “like” their comments. So where’s the “social” in that, I ask you?
Ciao a tutti! Today I’m pleased to bring back my friend Victoria De Maio for a second guest post. We’ve been friends online for a while, but back in May of last year we got to hang out in Rome for a couple days as guests of the Baglioni Hotel for their Grande Bellezza Tour.
Last time as guest on my blog she wrote an emotional piece about growing up in an Italian-American family. This time she’s back with more practical advice for solo travel in Italy. And within the article, she has placed a few useful links back to posts on her own blog where she goes more into depth on each topic, such as dressing, packing, and staying safe.
Without further ado, here’s Victoria…
There is so much to love about living in Italy: the food, the art, the history, the weather, the scenery.
“The bureaucracy,” however, is conspicuously absent from this list. As any expat can tell you, it’s the one thing that can be a real buzz-kill.
The undisputed King of all bureaucratic nightmares in Italy is the Permesso di Soggiorno. Day after day I receive desperate pleas via email from folks on the verge of a psychotic episode, driven to madness by the labyrinthine quagmire of governmental inefficiency in Italy. Take solace, my friends, you are not alone.
As one reader recently commented, “The REAL problem isn’t just getting it; it’s understanding how to roll with the punches when you try to secure one in different areas. I’ve gotten one in Rome, one in Bologna, one in Padua and three in the southern regions. Let me tell you: if all my kids resembled my Permesso experiences, they’d look like they came from different continents. In some towns you go to the police station, some you go strictly thru the postal system, and sometimes a banker has the reins. It’s pazzi!”
Couldn’t have said it better myself…
My Guide for the Permesso di Soggiorno
Like most Italy bloggers, I’ve covered this topic many times before. But apparently there is still a lot of confusion as to the exact steps in the application process. So what I’ve done is to compile everything that I know about this elusive “trophy” into one, handy-to-use pdf. I’ve created an email series to go along with it that includes tips about getting around town, healthcare, language acquisition, and other helpful topics.
I submit for your reading pleasure, my definitive guide for the Permesso di Soggiorno. If you’re in dire need of a Permesso, then I’m sure you’ll find this a riveting yarn. If you don’t need a Permesso at the moment, you can download it and save it for later. For the rest of you, it also doubles as the cure for insomnia. Go ahead, give it try—I promise it works! I even fell asleep myself a few times while writing it. Download it here:
This guide for the Permesso di Soggiorno contains step-by-step instructions for filling out the form correctly. There is also a copy of the form itself (Modulo 1)that you can download and print, as well as all the terms in translation, and some other useful resources. Then once the form is filled out, the guide explains the final steps before submitting the application package to the post office (or Questura, but post office is better, believe it or not).
The only thing I didn’t explain in this guide was how to open the celebratory bottle of Prosecco when you finally get your Permesso six months later. I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself.
Apartments in Rome
In case you didn’t notice, I’ve added a new tab to the header of my website that offers a search engine for finding accommodations in Rome. This not for holiday rentals, but rather for people looking for permanent or semi-permanent apartments in Rome (30 day minimum). The company is called Spotahome, they have graciously offered a discount on agent fees for readers of my blog. If you find a place that you’d like to rent, enter the code RZROM15 (all capital letters) for 20% off.
I’ll have more to say about apartment hunting in a future post.
On the Visa Question
But no, I won’t stop there—I’m aiming my sites higher. And if the mountain won’t come to me, then I will go to the mountain. I’m referring, of course, to the Italian Consulate. The Permesso is exquisitely confusing, like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube in the dark while wearing oven mittens. But the shifting criteria for getting your visa approved are guarded like a national secret, much the same as the recipe for Pompi’s tiramisu.
The Consulate doesn’t even know it yet, but I’m going to get to the bottom of this slippery issue, or get deported trying. (Actually, I feel pretty safe; I have an Italian daughter now, so that can’t keep me out. I think.) As you’ve probably guessed, this might take a few months/years, so stayed tuned.
In the meantime, I’ve found this little eBook to help with the sticky visa questions. It’s not bad, but it’s written from the British point of view, so some of the rules will be a little different for U.S., Canadian, and Australian citizens. Also, it’s for the entire Schengen area, and is not specific to Italy. Still, if you’re ready to take the plunge, then this is the only concise resource that I’ve found on the web to date. It’s worth the purchase if you’re in a hurry and want to avoid all the common mistakes that might cost you even more time and money.
An Offer You Can’t Refuse
I was honored a few months ago when fellow Rome blogger, John Henderson, referred to me as “The Godfather of Rome Bloggers.” (At least I think he meant it as a compliment.) I don’t know if that’s true, but I try my hardest to abet those who’d like to attempt this crazy, ill-advised, impossible—wonderful—journey that I have completed. So what do you say, are you foolish enough to try it, too? Andiamo!
A New Year in Italy. It’s that season again when we all reflect on the year that has been, and look forward to the one ahead. We make resolutions and then promptly break them before January is even finished. Like going on a diet, for example. Yes, I need to lose a few pounds, but kicking off the New Year with cotechino and lenticchie isn’t a good start.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with this New Year in Italy tradition, cotechino is a large sausage, made entirely of fresh pork taken from the cheek and shoulder of the pig. The flavor is fairly mild, but it’s a heavy dish due to the high fat content. It is served with lentils, which symbolize money (coins). The more lentils you eat, the more prosperous you’ll be in the New Year—or so the legend goes. The cotechino sausage, improbably, represents luck. For the life of me, I can’t work this one out, because when I’m lying in bed trying to digest this enormous pork bomb at 3:00 a.m., I certainly don’t feel too lucky. But there you have it.