Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why Italy is a third world country.

I just realized tonight that I hadn’t posted in almost a week and was wondering why, as it doesn’t seem like I did an awful lot the last few days, and then I realized that a stupid, almost insignificant little decision I took last week has put me in such a state of high agitation that six days went by with nary a thought to my blog (or twitter or facebook).
I’ve been wanting a break for quite some time, a break from my routine, a break from winter, a break from thinking about the husband’s illness, basically a break from reality. So last Saturday I started fantasizing about taking off for a long weekend by myself, no kids, no husband, no worries, but the truth is I’m too much of a mother hen, and I simply can’t imagine not clucking around my chicks for two or three days, so that little idea flew the coop pretty much right away (and that’s enough with the poultry metaphor). And then… a teeny, nagging thought crept in… and like an unscratched itch it gained momentum, and started to seem feasible, nay, possible, and then a light bulb went off in my head and I was just like, well, why the hell not. So I’m going to Brazil next week y’all! Yep. Because my Grandma is turning 101 years old. One hundred and one. And I missed her 100th birthday last year, for obvious reasons, and the girl has never met her so I done woke up Monday morning and reserved us a flight to Sao Paulo. So there. The husband can’t come with us, and he probably won’t be feeling so hot in the next few weeks, but his mama is moving in to take care of him, better and with infinitely more patience than me, so the kids and I are heading for Brazil. Hee, hee! Where it’s summer. Summer! In the middle of winter for us. Isn’t having two hemispheres just the bee’s knees? I mean you can be right smack in the middle of a blizzard today, but the beach is just a short plane ride away (well, ok, it’s a thirteen hour plane ride away and I’m not going to the beach, but whatever!).
But this is great news, you say, then why the agitation?? Ah, I reply, you forget, dear reader, that I live in Italy. You see, Italy is a fantastic country, the food is marvelous, the scenery to die for, the history, the architecture, the people, it’s a country that makes you dream… but efficient it is not. So, Sunday night as I discuss my plan with the husband, and we iron out kinks, he reminds me that the girl has no passport. We had already had this conversation back in august, and then promptly forgot about it. So Monday I start gathering documents for this apparently simple purpose… I go on the pertinent website, I make a list, I check it twice, I take the girl to have passport pictures taken, in the only shop in Cuneo that does this. And then I go pay the first passport tax, in one office and the second passport tax elsewhere, because paying all the passport taxes in the same place would have been too damn easy and time effective, and we can’t have that here in Italy. Then I went to get her birth certificate and was informed that my ID was no longer valid since Italy is, apparently, a third world country and still issues paper IDs (yes, my ID is paper, not plastic) and it was ripped. I schlep back across town to get my picture taken for the ID (again, because having a place that takes your picture, even a simple photo booth, in the same location where you actually need pictures to get your documents done, is quite simply, too easy) and schlep back to get my new ID. By then the Questura (police headquarters where one gets passports) was closed because it closes at noon. For the day. All this was actually a lucky coincidence because apparently the law just changed and both parents have to be present to request a passport for a minor and I was alone that day. Even if they’re divorced. Or live in different cities. Because if we don’t complicate our own lives, we can rest assured that the State will do it for us.
So, finally, finally (!) today the husband, the girl and I made it to the correct office, with the correct documentation during the tiny window of time in which they were actually working, and waited in line with seemingly a hundred thousand other people and got a glimpse of the hardships of the last Great War, like waiting in line for bread, because the State has our education at heart and tries to impart lessons, in history and sociology through the most mundane activities. I then had to beg, like a peasant in Trotskyist Russia, to have the procedure expedited because my grandma turns 101 on February 5th and apparently even in a town (and in this instance, by town I actually mean village) the size of Cuneo (population 50,000) it takes them a month, A MONTH, to get a freakin’ passport out. Seriously, are they liming the calfskin to make the parchment that a blind scribe must then decorate by hand and inscribe with gothic script using a peacock feather? What on earth could possibly be going on behind the closed doors of the “Passport Office” that would require a month, A MONTH, to get a fucking passport for a one year old out? In this day and age of computers and instant information. It boggles the mind.

I was told that they would do their best to have it by the 4th, the day we leave, the day before my grams’ birthday. This basically means that the insane amount of stress I’ve been living with for the past two days (I get agitated like that) will continue until Friday next week. Will we leave? Won’t we? Who knows. Either way, I’m packing a bathing suit.


  1. Oh Lord....I was crying with laughter when I read this. Mostly because it's all true! And secondly because I know where you are in your mind. I did the same thing a few weeks ago. Bought myself (singular) a plane ticket outta this joint for a week. For sanitys sake. Fingers crossed for the passport! Margot

  2. Oh Gosh, what a nightmare -- I can relate to all this bureaucratic bedlam only too well. It's like you're a captive, being held against your will! Here's hoping you get the hell outta dodge on time. I recommend a stiff caipirinha upon arrival ;)

  3. Hey Margot, it's gotta be something in the air... makes us want to leave, and yet we always come back! Where did you go off to?

  4. Alcira, I'm thinking the Caipirinha right before getting on the plane with the kiddos!

  5. I am laughing not to cry because I live in Italy too...but mostly because you are hilarious m'dear!

  6. Oh I hope you get to go! How much fun that would be! Personally, I'd like to be in Italy right now myself. :)