A trip to the Questura

6 Oct
I should be writing about our trip to Switzerland and showing you beautiful pictures. I could be writing about the James Beard Foundation dinner we attended in Milan. (if anyone ever suggests you attend one, please do!) However, I am writing today about the latest installment in our journey to obtain the Permesso di Soggiorno we each need to remain in Italy legally.  Today, we visited the Questura (police station).
When I wrote about Our journey so far,  I mentioned we walked out of Poste Italiane with appointments for fingerprinting.  Here’s what I said at the end of that very long post:

At one point, he seemed to have completed my packet but handed me a receipt copy of the mailing label for sending the documents to the Questura that bore Ric’s name. I tried to point it out but was waved off. He proceeded with Ric’s packet then could not figure out why he did not have the proper label. Once again I tried to point out the problem but was waved off. He had Ric fill out another label, so now both my packet and Ric’s were labeled with Ric’s name and we feared the numbers would not be right in the system. More discussion. Papers shuffled. Perplexed expression. He opened my sealed application packet and saw the error. Not sure what to do, he simply manually corrected the code number on two documents so they match. The numbers in the computer system and what I have on paper match only because of a hand correction. Not sure that will fly….

Now we have appointments with the Questura for fingerprinting and I suppose some sort of interview, but God knows if this mix-up of coded paperwork at Poste Italiane will plague me. Maybe Ric will get a Permesso and I will be deported.

What I did not mention is that Poste Italiane set appointments for us on a day we would not be in Italy due to our planned trip to Switzerland. We shuddered to think of un-arranging those plans as we had cat sitters scheduled and we’d be forfeiting not only three days of our Swiss trek, but several hundred Euros in changed transportation and canceled lodging.
The first step in getting the appointment changed was to see if we were in the system. I looked every day. Eight days after the Poste Italiane experience, the Polizia di Stato website for stranieri showed Ric in the system. Hooray! But as I expected, the mix-up of coded paperwork made finding myself a problem. The number on the receipt the PI guy gave me was not right, but I was able to deduce it from the error I observed and so was able to find myself as well. I simply wrote a nice email to the Questura stating it would be difficult for us to make our appointments on 25 September, could we come sometime after 4 October? Miracle of miracles, they wrote back within one business day and changed them! Off to Switzerland we went.
Today, we journeyed to the Questura di Roma Divisione Stranieri (foreigners division) for our appointments. This division is located in the eastern part of Rome, near the notorious Tor Sapienza, where there is a refugee center and Rom (i.e., Gypsy) camp. Nice ‘hood. Luckily we took a taxi, both ways, as it would otherwise be two long bus rides and a stretch on the Metro, not to mention a walk through this area known for violence and immigrant problems. The Questura facility itself is behind unfriendly fences and, of course, there were dozens of people of assorted nationalities coming-and-going.
The first problem presented itself when I spoke to a member of the Italian Army who was organizing who should go where before we even got into the building. In addition to the email I had that confirmed our appointments, he wanted to see my original receipts from Poste Italiane. The guy at PI did not give those to us, despite my insistence we needed them. We were given copies with his stamp and initials on them. The soldier did not like this at all, but he let us get in line.
Once past security, we were corralled with everyone else that was there for the 12:30 pm appointments, hoofing it up to 3rd floor (4th American) because the elevator was only for use by pregnant women and the elderly. (Seriously. That’s what it said.) We don’t cotton to being elderly, so we walked up.
A clerk was checking paperwork and handing each person the packet that Poste Italiane had sent in for them. When it came to our turn, we were sent to the secretary on the second floor. It seems she was the one who changed our appointment date. But this woman said no, wait, the third floor has to handle this. She called upstairs then kindly accompanied us, apologizing all the way, telling us not to worry. She also wanted to know which office of the Poste Italiane had messed this up.
Back on the third floor, again more apologies, but no, they did not have our packets. (Yikes!) We were ushered to a very nice and competent immigration clerk who was able to process us. Not only did we have the problem that Poste Italiane had goofed up the code numbers as I suspected, but the packets had been sent to the third floor of the Questura for the original appointments scheduled for September 25th. Seems the agreement to change the appointment date didn’t get lined up with the delivery of the packets. I suspect we were seen as “no shows” on the 25th.
Our helpful and competent immigration official was able to find our application packets in their system, apparently scanned, and she made the appropriate cross-references, correcting the errors of Poste Italiane. There was much consultation among colleagues, and I know we were cutting into their lunch hour as it was now past 13:00, but she recognized the foul-up was theirs (and Poste Italiane’s) so she patiently worked through it and arranged for some people in the fingerprinting office to wait for us before going to lunch. We had brought along all the paper we submitted in San Francisco for our visas, as well as originals of everything submitted with the Permesso applications.  They asked for none of this, much to our surprise. The lease that was a sticking point with the Consulate General in San Francisco was a non-issue after all. I am glad we decided NOT to have it re-written and reregistered, for once saving a few hundred Euros.
What we experienced at the Questura was good teamwork, and in the way of all Italian networks, news of our problem with PI had spread like wildfire and everyone was talking about the error PI had made and trying to make it up to us. No one said, “It’s lunchtime I’m leaving.” We were treated very professionally and with courtesy. On our way out there were many farewells and thank yous all around, from the fingerprint people to the soldiers.
One more step to go: In about 40 days we should be able to pick up our Permesso cards at the commissariato (police station) near our home. Then we get to do it all over again next year to renew.

15 Responses to “A trip to the Questura”

  1. Barb Shogren October 9, 2015 at 00:50 #

    I was going through my paperwork in the safe the other day and came across my Permesso di Soggiorno from 1969! Being as Greg was in the service, I didn’t have the trouble obtaining it you have had. It was literally handed to me. My friends in Roatan who have tried to get or have gotten residency permission from the Honduras think they have a hard time with the application process…I’m going to refer them to your blog regarding Italy! As you said, it’s an adventure. How boring would life be without a few “adventures”!


    • gooddayrome October 9, 2015 at 05:25 #

      Wow, I am amazed you still had your permesso! We were each given a Carta d’Identita’ automatically as diplomats, but that was pried out of our hands when we retired.


  2. Marcia October 7, 2015 at 20:41 #

    Your patience and perseverance totally astound me but it sounds like you need those two skills in Italy!


    • gooddayrome October 7, 2015 at 20:50 #

      Not a task to be undertaken if you are not serious about it! Many people say they want to spend a year in Europe, but I doubt they know they need to go through this process in one of the Schengen countries in order to stay legally and travel about.


  3. Sharon October 7, 2015 at 00:20 #

    Ps. I hope you got that helpful woman’ name at the Questura! I would send her flowers so she remembers you! LOL


  4. Sharon October 7, 2015 at 00:17 #

    Glad it all had a happy ending but stunned it is an annual ritual!! Hopefully you will have the experience to make it a smoother process next time. Perhaps they have a less rigorous application process for subsequent requests (like our passport system). Please don’t forget me for next September/October/November/December! I would do the spring too!

    Can’t wait to hear about Switzerland!


    • gooddayrome October 7, 2015 at 06:29 #

      Yes, we are thinking the learning curve will help next time. And we will go to a different Poste Italiane when we turn in the package!


  5. mvaden1948 October 6, 2015 at 23:21 #

    I have no problem when it comes to being considered elderly…it would be the elevator for me but then I have arthritis in my knees and I’ve never been the hikers that you are. I have friends who have horror stories about their visits to the Questura (more time wasting than anything) but your visit seems to have gone well, all things considered.
    This is filed in my “moving to Italy” file.


  6. Jonnie Martin October 6, 2015 at 21:04 #

    Oh Lord. This was a roller coaster ride — more for you as participants — but even as a reader, I was up, I was down, up, down, up down. And the last sentence was the clincher — you have to do this again in a year!


    • gooddayrome October 7, 2015 at 06:31 #

      I am so happy I can provide entertainment for my readers!


  7. Nigel October 6, 2015 at 21:02 #

    You guys should write a book….

    It would keep you in residuals for the rest of your life!!!

    Such a story….


    • gooddayrome October 7, 2015 at 06:28 #

      It has been an adventure, though not fraught with as many problems as some have related. Talk soon!



  1. Mission accomplished! | gooddayrome - November 20, 2015

    […] course, this last step was not without quirks. I wrote in early October about the process thus far: Applying for a visa in San Francisco, working through the machinations […]


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