Ciao amici,
Today, I'm sharing a little adventure in the rough waters of Italian bureaucracy…

I'm the first to criticize most of Italy's services' obsolescence. The sometimes absolute absence of logic, efficiency, and expected automatisms. And still, occasionally, bureaucracy finds a way to surprise me.
It took me about two months to get my new ID card. And another one to understand that I could get it at my local Comune (municipality).
It all began when I realized I had lost my card for good. That it wasn't in one of my bags, purses, or jackets. That it was time to get a couple of hours off, walk to the police station, patiently wait for an officer to have some time for me, and stay there for at least half an hour while he wrote down my data, digit the same data, answered a call, complained because the system was slow, replied to something a colleague asked for, digit the other part of my data, asked me a couple of questions more, answered another call, printed the paper, made me wait for another ten minutes while he went in search of the captain who would sign it, and finally, gave me the piece of paper propedeutic to any other step in my journey.

After that, my naivety drove me to google "rinnovo della carta d'identità" and add "elettronica" since we've had this chip on our cards that should work miracles (digital services) for a few years now. After a bit of browsing, I finally found an official portal. To my relief, it announced you could book an appointment online!
After a bit too many clicks, I was finally on the dedicated page: a long list of municipalities, each with an icon to click to open an agenda. I found mine and clicked. Nothing. I waited a couple of minutes and tried again. Nothing. So I looked around the page and found a fundamental piece of information: some municipalities, apparently, were full for the next three/five/eight months. I googled the news and found a dozen articles denouncing the difficulties many offices were encountering and that Rome citizens had a waiting list of multiple months.
The next day, hoping to have a clearer mind and, perhaps, a miracle to happen, I returned to the page. Tried again. Failed again. So I decided to book the first nearest (not at all near but at least known to me) appointment. Early August, in via Aurelia. I confirmed and saved the date on my calendar. With a two weeks alert: who knew what would be happening in August.
Fate wants that my "scheda elettorale", voting card, had ended the spaces, and I needed to renew it. Luckily, that was easy: go to the Comune, take a number, wait for my turn, give the old card, and get the new one.
Since I was there, I asked about the ID card. "Of course, you can get it made here! Go upstairs and ask for an appointment."
I climbed the stairs thinking that I'd probably had to wait months, so I'd keep my August appointment just in case.
I knocked on the first door to see if that was the office and optionally ask where else I should go, and found a young boy. He welcomed me to sit and consulted a schedule on his pc. Then he let me choose between a few days in the second week of May. Aha! But he added that he could not give me an exact time and that he'd call me once he had organized all the appointments of that week. He then pointed at a pile of post-its. Ok…
He took yet another yellow sticky paper and wrote down my name, surname, Codice Fiscale (Italy's tax code/identification number), and cell phone. He added it to the pile and asked me to take a picture of the screen he had flipped in my direction: an email sent to someone else with a list of the documents and stuff I had to bring to the appointment. Ok…
A couple of weeks later, when I had totally forgotten the question, the boy called me and very politely gave me an appointment at 10.15. "Don't forget the list."

The Monday before my booking, I woke up, and my phone reminded me I needed a "fototessera", a photocard, for the next day. I put on a little makeup, trying to remember the basics of the course I had taken years ago and, more precisely, the stuff about getting photogenic, and tried to comb my hair decently. I walked to the photo booth next to the neighborhood flower seller and took all three snaps available after inserting six euros into the machine. I selected the least bad and confirmed the print. I can't remember one decent picture on any of my documents.
The next day, I walked back to the Comune, took the stairs, and stepped into the office where I had taken the appointment, but no, I had to go downstairs, say my name, and get a number: they'd call me… The appointment was for getting in line.
But first: "fill in this with your data", another form, my generalities once again.
I sat on the row of chairs for the people waiting to be called - although having a number in my hand, they'd call me by name - and luckily found a neighbor, one of the nice ones, and so time passed while we discussed the last condominium meeting and the adjustments the building needed. Then I was called.
I handed in my form, pictures, passport etc, and patiently waited. I have the superpower of not getting mad at city employees, not even that time a lady called my number and told me to wait just a minute while she drank and ate her cappuccino & cornetto, all while chatting with a colleague. So while the lady inserted my data in the pc and joked with her colleague, then answered someone asking her for a personal favor, then joking again, then paused to hear a gossip other two were spreading around, I looked around, read the papers attached to the glass separator, and tried to catch the gossip as well. After a few minutes into her "job," the lady's attention was caught by my bag. "That's a Tolfetana! (made in Tolfa, a town near Rome)," She cried. "Oh my god, I had one just the same!" Her smile illuminated the cubicle.
She turned to her office bestie: "Look! Remember?". The two women began sharing with me - but it was mostly to themselves - how they dressed back in their young days. I didn't dare ask their age, but I could guess they were talking of the late seventies, maybe very early eighties.
They told me their "uniform", the ensemble of any Roman girl at the time, was made of white trousers or a skirt. And here the friend interrupted, making it clear that the skirt was "a portafoglio", a wrap skirt, and hilariously laughed remembering of that time when a wind blow had opened hers entirely in the middle of Piazza San Silvestro (downtown, I think it was a meeting point for the youngsters of the time). The t-shirts were to be white with blue stripes. And the bags were the Tolfetana, or the Gucci "envelope". They googled the images, their eyes sparkled, and they turned the screen towards me, "See? This one!".
Then again, for the next model. The Gherardini "bag".
The lady's memory case was opened. She melancholically told me how she pitied the kids of today, how they were missing community life, playing on the streets, and knowing everyone in the neighborhood… she then recalled she used to listen to Baglioni in the afternoon, after school, in her room, that she turned on the volume so loud everyone could hear. And, "pazienza", no one complained.
She added how she used to call "nonna" the concierge who lived in the same building: she was like one of the family. How her father used to beat the broom on the floor twice to let the lady know dinner was ready, so she'd climb up the stairs and sit at the table with them. Of how, after dinner, everyone sat on the couch to watch some tv - "only two channels to choose from" - and that when "nonna" began to feel sleepy, she'd stand up, turn off the tv, and send everyone to bed.
Only when my neighbor tipped on my shoulder to say bye - she was called time after me, but she had finished already - the lady hastily passed me my confirmation paper and told me my ID would be delivered to my door in a couple of weeks. It was time to say goodbye. The woman, still with dreamy eyes, said she was sorry to have kept me there for so long. I smiled instead: what was supposed to be an errand had turned into a bit of adventure, and I had had a true, not at all convenient, nor practical, nor automated, nor efficient human intercourse.
And that, my friends, is how you get an ID renovated here in Rome!
Have a great Sunday,



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