Saturday, March 17, 2007

Permesso di Soggiorno (Part due)

Today was a good day! Things do work out with perseverance. I started out the day determined to put an end to this thing hanging over my head. First stop, Tabbachi shop to buy Marca da Bollo. This is an official stamp those goes onto the front of the form. I have no idea what it is, or why you need it, but it cost 14.72 euro. I managed to get it with no problems. This was a good start.

I took my application, copies of my passport and visa, copies of my financial support data, copy of my enrollment, and 4 passport photos to the post office. I went to a different post office, because a person who I met at the Internet Train, Melissa told me that they were very helpful there and had helped her immensely. I obtained my ticket at the machine and begin my wait. I had not even found a seat when my number was called! I hurried to the counter, and begin to pull out my paperwork, saying what I hoped was the last time, "Permesso Di Soggiorno?" The lady behind the counter begin to speak to me in Italian, asking for my passport which I handed over.

I affixed my Marco da Bollo to the form, signed it and handed it over. She went through it page by page, and put another stamp on it. She looked through my documents, and gave me a return postage form and asked for my address. Still speaking in Italian, but somehow, I was following her. I completed the form. She asked me to pay 60.00 Euro, gave me a receipt, a copy of the receipt for the form, and explained that I would receive the Permesso Di Soggiorno by return postage. Grazie!

I left there so happy, that I decided to take myself to lunch! In the Piazza della Republica, there are several sidewalk cafes, a huge Piazza with a Carousel, and quite the place to people watch. The weather here has been unbelievable, and it didn’t disappoint today. I found a cafĂ©, ordered a tuna salad, wine, and water. Tuna is a food staple here. It is the canned variety, but it is canned in olive oil, and is simply delicious. The salad consisted of mixed greens, tomatoes (which I have already told you are phenomenal) onions, and the tuna. The only "dressing" that is ever available in Italy is olive oil and vinegar. They have the worlds best Balsamic Vinegar (which is actually made in Modena, Italy), or you can have red wine vinegar of course. "Italian Dressing" as we know it is an American invention.

As I have told you, even the smallest things in Italy are different enough that it takes concentration and effort to master them. Today, I had an experience with the containers that the oil and vinegar were in. I don’t know how to describe what they looked like. Nothing complicated. Glass cylinder bottles with plastic tops, which I could not figure out how to open. I twisted the top, and it unscrewed only to reveal the bottle opening. I could see there was a pour spout in the top of the container, but could not figure out how to open it. I put the container down, and begin to look around to see if I could observe someone else using it. There were a group of 8 young boys-college age-at a table near by. I saw them giggling and knew they were laughing at me. After a few minutes, I did not see anyone using the containers, so decided to try again. I picked them up, turned them over, upside down, nothing. One of the boys at the other table got my attention. They did not speak English, but were not Italian. My guess is German, but I don’t know. They made a motion of pulling the top up, which I tried, but it was so oily, I could not get a grip. One of the boys got up from his table and came over to open the container for me. Must be a boy scout! Even he had a little trouble getting it off, which made me feel a little less stupid. How sweet!

Italian bread is unsalted, and honestly, I really don’t care for it. Eating it by itself, it is bland and boring. Italians do not use balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dip their bread in, that is another American invention. The bread is useful and delicious if you have a pasta sauce to mop up from your plate. Lunch can take several hours. No waiter would ever bring you the check unless you ask for it. This makes for a relaxing afternoon!

Italians seem to have a tradition, or at least where I am concerned of bringing Limoncello as an after dinner drinks, compliments of the house. It doesn’t happen every time, but it did today, which added to the celebratory nature of the day. Amy and I first experienced this generosity in Rome. And found that it occurred several times on our trip there. I was happy to see that the custom is alive and well in Florence! Raise a glass to the conclusion of the "Permesso Di Soggiorno"!

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