by Melinda Gallo

One more year!

What else would we want to be doing on a cold Monday morning? We were jet lagged and already awake at 7AM, so we figured we'd get ready, call a taxi, and go to the questura to pick up our permessi di soggiorno (permits to stay).

Living in Florence :: One more year!

We were only a few weeks late to pick up our permessi di soggiorno and the office is only open from 8-9:30AM each morning. Although, I read a sign when I was there that said that it's now open a few afternoons during the week too. Had I known, I would've waited to go in the afternoon, but with our continuing jet lag, we'd have been napping.

We arrived at 9:29AM (possibly 9:30, but still they let us in). I made my way to the window to hand in my slips to pick up our permessi di soggiorno. When I got there, the woman behind the counter snatched mine from my hand and yelled, "Sono gli ultimi!" (These are the last ones!) All the woman has to do is get our files out of a large cabinet behind her, check our passports, make us sign, and then give them to us. But instead, we waited a good two hours for her to take other people's files and when that line got to only a few people, she started calling out our names.

It looked like they might also have been understaffed since normally there are two people: one at each window. I figured since we were the last ones to hand in our slips, we'd be the last ones she'd call. But, Dave was the third one and I was the fifth! We were happy to get out of questura not too late.

I took a picture after about an hour, so there aren't that many people left. But there are only two windows open and those two groups (one on the left and one on the right) of people are actually two lines. There's a lot of confusion and everyone seems tense because no one wants anyone else to cut in line. People stare you down and you can feel their eyes pierce your skin as you go by. I always feel bad that I excuse myself and walk up to the front to hand in my slip, but I know better than to wait in line!

In the end, it's all painless. The woman hands us the flimsy blue piece of paper with our information printed on it and our picture stapled at the top with a stamp on it. It's our permit to stay another year in Florence, which we are grateful for.

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