It's exhausting being petted so much on Piazza Santa Croce!
After we moved into our Piazza Santa Croce apartment on June 27th, we went to our local Mailboxes, etc right around the corner and requested that the Italian Consulate in Los Angeles send our citizenship file originals to us in Florence, where we would pursue Italian citizenship for my husband. We received the file July 4th, then we spent several weeks trying to connect with an attorney we had met on our last trip to Florence. (We took a wonderful cooking class from his sister, who owns Cooking in Florence, and she introduced us to him) We finally made contact with him mid-July, and he told us things were crazy busy getting work done in preparation for the August holidays. (Pretty much all of Italy, except for tourist-dependent businesses, shuts down most, if not all, of August!!)
We scrambled to get our documents submitted, then spent a few weeks waiting for the police visit to verify our residence. Then, suddenly, the cittadinanza application was halted - the woman reviewing it had found several discrepancies (Bob's grandfather's name was spelled differently in a few places). Our attorney wrote a lengthy "act" in which he explained everything, and the application started again, which meant waiting for the police to visit, again - not leaving all day! On a whim, Monday morning I checked our mailbox and found a document that stated the police had been to our residence on the prior Friday and not found us here, even though we'd been dutifully sitting and waiting for them ALL DAY!!!! We faxed the document back to the police, giving our hours of availability, and they showed up the next day! One down.....
Permesso di Soggiorno
With the cittadinanza restarted, and the residency verified, it was now time to submit the Permesso di Soggiorno kit. We went to the Ufficio Postale on via Porta Rossa (a beautiful building, by the way) and they would NOT accept Bob's application (!) because he didn't have a visa, which you don't need if you are here and applying for citizenship. So, Bob and our attorney met the next day at a different post office and the application was accepted! On August 29th, Bob's last day to legally remain in Italy without the citizenship/residency/permesso di soggiorno applications being accepted! 2 down in the 11th hour craziness.....
Our Florence attorney, Ugo Franceschetti
A visa application of some kind....
Meanwhile, because of the 90 day Schengen tourist restriction, I had to leave Italy and return to the US to get a visa from the Italian Consulate in order to return to Italy!
At the tiny Florence airport about to embark for San Francisco
I flew to San Francisco August 30th, intent upon imploring the consulate to give me a visa. But, they would not! They said, since my husband's citizenship application was in process, granting me a visa would "confuse things". What??!! (They are telling me this as I beg them, standing on tiptoe, talking to Giorgia, the visa employee, via microphone, behind thick glass)
The Italian Consulate in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood
In the meantime, our attorney had come up with a plan: I would enroll in an Italian language course and apply for a Student Visa. I mentioned it to Giorgia, she was adamant that, no, it wasn't possible. I teared up, she softened, and then - surprise! - she suggested I enroll in classes and apply for a Student Visa. (I wish we'd thought of that!) So, Bob enrolled me in the Lorenzo de Medici Institute, with classes beginning September 4th. I flew to Seattle September 1st and set about getting all my ducks in a row.
My new school in Florence!
I met with the Honorary Consulate in Seattle on September 12th. My file was ironclad, complete, each section was clipped together, with a cover sheet that summarized the pages, and the entire file was in the exact order of the checklist on the Consulate website. After Mr Tesorieri reviewed the file and handed it to me, I was told to send it to San Francisco for processing. And write them a nice note about my impending departure, September 20th.
I overnighted the package to San Francisco, it arrived Thursday, September 14th, delayed a day because of the hurricanes and other disruptions (none on the west coast, but oh well). I called and emailed the SF consulate about my application and ticketed flight back to Florence September 20th but was answered with a terse note admonishing me "not to pressure them about my airline ticket". Well!
The day of my flight arrived and my passport and visa hadn't. So, I proceeded to change my flight (had paid extra for a changeable ticket) - but to what day?? I intuitively chose Sunday, September 24th as my new departure date. And hoped my passport/visa would arrive the 21st, 22nd or 23rd.
On Friday, September 22, I sent another email to the San Francisco Consulate requesting "Visa Status - Flight in 3 days" per directions on their website. I got an answer at 1:12 pm: "Hello. Your passport has been mailed." I opened up the USPS website I had been obsessively checking daily and..... nothing. I refreshed the page over and over and - suddenly! - there was info!! My passport was picked up in SF at 11:20 am and in transit! But would it arrive to me by Saturday, so I could make my Sunday flight??
YES! ...... at the 11th hour....... IT DID!!!!
I haven't been so excited to get the mail in a long time....!
It was a ton of consternation, hard work, planning, organizing, frustration, and incredible stress - but it was fabulous to see friends and family in Seattle - and I even made a new friend in San Francisco - while I waited for my visa....
With my brother and step brother
Leslie and I love these basil-infused drinks at Bar Cantinetta
Fab 4 celebrating Tana's birthday
Nick on his way to the airport
And pretty nice to get back to my Florence neighborhood....