If you want to move to Italy, I have one piece of advice for you. Don't do it! Unless of course you are either very fool hardy or determined. I wish this post were about installing puzzles and moving forward with the World Puzzle Center, but instead I will give you our experiences to date. Warning, this is a long read.
We arrived on the 24th and at 7 am we decided to be off the ship with the first wave of departures. We sent our luggage down the night before and were up at dawn prepared to head out quickly to pick up our rental car. Or so we thought. We managed to get off by around 8. Why? The immigration officials were still having coffee. In hindsight this was an omen.
Once we cleared customs (peace of cake for a change), we went out to find a taxi. Now when I told them where I wanted to go, not a cab driver would take us. They all told me to get a bus to the gate and walk. Not an easy task with 4 suitcases and a 3D printer. A gent finally came by and told me they were all stupid. He took us for an exorbitant 20 Euros the 10 blocks we needed to traverse. I know this sounds small, but I would have never found the rental agency.
We arrived about 15 minutes early, and the man inside would not see me until my appointed pick up time. Well, as I kept walking in, he gave me the car. Only later did I realize I was over 2 hours away from my pick up time. What difference does that make? Oh well. We had the keys in hand and off we went.
Now here is where the fun starts. We arrived on the morning before a public holiday. Our caretakers gave us the "Kit" to fill out and the grand tour of work done to date. They left us for dinner and the next day, we filled out the "Kit" to take to the post office. Only we couldn't. It was the Anniversario della Liberazione (a public holiday). Which means the Post office while open in the morning was only open for 2 hours. No problem, we have 8 days.
The "Kit" is the official word for all the paperwork that need completion for the issuance of the permesso di soggiorno (residency permit). This form is all in Italian with no translation attached. If it is not filled in correctly, the post office will return it only for you to try again until it is done correctly. Without this kit and all its parts, one stands as good a chance as Lo farò quando sarà finito il ponte per Messina (I'll do it when a bridge is built to Messina-the Italian equivilent to when hell freezes over.) Without this, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can be done in Italy. This will become perfectly clear as you read on.
We set about doing other "work" while waiting for our caretakers to have the time to take us up to the post office. Friday came and we headed to Perugia. All we were told was turn it in at the post office there. Why? Panicale can not accept the "Kit" and Tavernelle didn't have the required stamps. So we drive to Perugia-45 minutes away on windy Italian roads with a man behind the wheel who-I kid you not-used to be a race car driver. When we get to Perugia and get our ticket to see someone at the post office, we are told that we have a ticket B. We need a ticket A or P. Back to the machine to draw one again. These tickets are the things we get at delis back home.
Our number comes up again, this time with the right ticket letter and we are told we need a €16,50 marca da bollo (stamp) from the tabaccheria (tobacco and sundries shop). And no, they don't sell them at the post office. OK. We grab yet another ticket from the machine in the hopes that our number will come up again quickly when we return with this new stamp.
We then run to the tabaccheria 2 blocks down, buy 2 stamps and run the 2 blocks back only to see that the number for our turn hasn't changed since we left. Ok. Now we wait another 1/2 hour or so an finally get to the counter only to be told we need 2 tickets, not just one and wait, you haven't paid this fee so we can't take your paperwork anyway.
UGH! Back to Tavernelle where Elena is waiting outside the Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori (CISL-free advice institution for families) for us to fill out the paperwork.
Now this office is open until 13:00 and it is only noon because our race car driver took those roads at 90+ to get us back before the offices closed. I guess they wanted to do lunch early. Great, we go back on Monday. Which puts us on day 9 and we are at risk of expulsion from the country. Elena gets on the phone and calls a friend who calls a friend who calls a friend and we get an 8 am appointment for Tuesday! 2 days over the limit! I'm panicking now as is my usual nature but what can we do. The offices are all closed in the afternoon and we have missed not only our deadline, but Wil's King's Day Party. This is just adding insult to injury.
We sit in a local pasticceria (pastry shop) and have a cup of coffee and a cornetto (croissant). Elena is still on the phone and returns with some good news. Finally, we need it! Monday is a public holiday and the government won't count those or weekends against us so really, we have until Wednesday to turn in the paperwork. The sigh of relief could be heard all the way to Perugia.
So, it's a holiday weekend and you guessed it, nothing is going to get done. I did a small grocery shop, drove to an outlet center an hour north only to find they didn't have what I want, and just relaxed a little bit because on Tuesday it starts all over again.
Tuesday morning we were up and running at 7. We had to be back in Perugia for that 8 am appointment. Thank god for Antonio and Elena. The place we had to go was close to the post office, but without parking so we had to park about 5 blocks away and walk. the GPS on the maps sent us to the correct address, but the offices moved and Google hadn't caught up. George however saw the queue and got us to the CISL. We had to go to a second door and wait another 1/2 hour for them to open. And you guessed it, it's now past 8 am.
We walked in and found our someone quickly. This process then took about an hour to type our forms again. For some reason unknown to us, they can't be hand written although that is what we were given by the post office. There was a bit of comic relief while we removed the marca da bollo that we had purchased and put on the forms on Friday. We handed over copies of insurance and a reams worth of paper that is our statement of income. This was deemed to be too much and they took a summary of the past 4 years and our last tax return. Finally, the forms are filled out and we have been given a price to pay.
I even found a poster for the 730 income tax return that might be of interest to some.
Now it is time to run back to the post office yet again and get 2 tickets with either A or P printed on them. I'm starting to understand this bizarre system. We patiently wait for our numbers to come up and head to the counters when they do. This time we have all of our t's crossed and our i's dotted and we are given the permesso di soggiorno. Or so we thought. No. What we were given was a paper that gives us an appointment to get the permesso di soggiorno. Again, we wait. Everyone we talked to and read online said this process would take about 2-3 months to process. Ok. We can wait. Not so for us. The day we turned in the paperwork was 2 May, our appointment date? 24 January 2024! We now have to wait almost a year! No problem though, the man at the post office told us that is all we need to stay here and to register with the comune (commune in English).
The next morning we go over to the comune at 9 to register as residents and to get our avvio della procedura di registrazione (initiation of the registration procedure). This paper then gets turned into our identity cards. Now this is important for two reasons. We need it to purchase a car, and to get our household goods that are currently being held hostage at the tune of $300 per day in Rotterdam. The man at the post office told us that the papers we had in hand are enough to do this. Not so says the lady at the comune. We have to wait until January when they give us yet another paper telling us we can go back yet again for fingerprints before she will give us this card. So yet again we wait.
We have Antonio on the job hoping to get someone at the local Questra's office to speed up the process for us. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, the car rental is €2500 a month and our goods still stay in storage. This move is costing a bomb now. The car problem will be solved in the typical expat fashion next week. As for the household goods, we are all working on a solution to that. Pray for us one and all.
Moving to Italy reminds me of being in the Army. Hurry up then wait. Only here, we wait a very, very long time. The good news though is that our shelves are in, we are living in the castle, and as we live here we see the work that needs to be done and are moving on that. We have decided to extend the elevator through to the ground floor (who puts an elevator on two floors only?) I meet with the contractor on Tuesday. On Thursday I meet with the engineer to fix the problem with the dead cat room (the ceiling and door is cracking so severely that the whole tower could fall if not fixed) and we meet with the painters to get that work done next Monday.
George and I have walked through the buildings and have changed the rooms where certain puzzles will be stored. We have set up the temperature measurement devices and are doing a 7 month study of the temperature and humidity levels in the rooms to determine where to place each type of puzzle and the equipment we will need to purchase to keep the collection at a constant state. This will be a feat in itself given the building we are now in.
Per force, I have been given an extension of a year before I have to get my drivers license. That will give me more time to study and actually learn the language. Speaking of, everyday I improve. I have to. Our community really doesn't have many people who speak English.
We ordered the kitchen estimate. It is going to be amazing when finished. The designer didn't like my ideas, but when I told him it was my kitchen and my money he quickly changed his mind and is doing things my way. One example of this is I want separate Subzero's for the refrigerator and freezer. Not a Smeg side-by-side. He didn't see how 2 people needed so much space. I didn't ask for that. I asked for a design. But after he realized my Spanish is better than my Italian, he switched languages and we were able to communicate much better. This is not ideal, but it worked. While he wants the master bathroom project, he declined saying it will need an engineer to put in a new door and he's not one. He's engaged a few for estimates and that will all happen next week.
George and I purchased 8 sofa sleepers for the rooms because apparently here you are only allowed to purchase 4 per person. Is there a black market for sofa sleepers I don't know about? We also ordered new lights for those that were ripped out of the ceiling in the staircases and a few sconces for one of the bedrooms on the second floor. Once these are placed, we will decide upon the rest of the lighting. Along the way, we had to go through heavy traffic.
We went to a second hand shop yesterday to pick up a few mirrors-yes, we will have a Versailles room. Wait until you see what is in my head. For once even George can do it.
We were measuring the bathrooms in the hotel for small closet space and decided to change up the room usage a bit. The upper kitchen (behind the delivery room) was to be converted into a dining area but it just didn't sit right with me. That room has so much power, all of which was going to be covered by a shelf, so we decided to change it to George's 3D printer room. It even has built in exhaust so he can also put his laser cutter in there. This is a real win for him.
We decided to give Antonio the dead cat room for his workshop so I can have the room he is currently using back for puzzles. It's just too good a space to waste. He can design his workshop anyway he wants. I just want my space back.
Now, worry not my dear readers. Just because we don't have our puzzles doesn't mean they aren't safe. They are all in a humidity controlled warehouse. And we are still purchasing more puzzles as we are here. So far we have added 3 more collections to the World Puzzle Center and will continue to do so. I have received Cubic Dissection, Pelican, Mine, LogicaGiochi and countless other puzzles in the short time we have been here. My puzzle budget is still non-existant and I continue to fill the shelves that will soon begin being installed. We won't be fully opened by Christmas, but we will have a puzzle or two on the shelves. As always, our doors are opened. Right now though, the puzzles to be played with are just in boxes. This will change as soon as those shelves go up.
George has moved many of the shelves to the hotel in preparation for installation and I have begun to populate the library. The work goes on.
Fino alla prossima settimana, arrivaderci e continua a rompicapo.