by Melinda Gallo

Some things do go smoothly

I've been planning on getting us our carte d'identità (identity cards) for weeks ever since we finally claimed residency in Florence last year. We had to wait until we got our new permessi di soggiorno (permits to stay), which we picked up in November after we got back from the States. We really have no good reason for getting our carte d'identità except that we can...and they are valid for 5 years! The carta d'identità is used a form of identification in Italy, so we won't need to show our flimsy permessi di soggiorno any more.

Living in Florence :: Some things do go smoothly

I somehow remembered that many offices in Florence are open all day on Thursday or at least in the afternoon. So, after lunch today, I dragged Dave to Piazza Repubblica where there's a small photo booth that takes passport-sized pictures for carte d'identità.

It was sunny when we got outside, but it didn't warm up the cold air enough for it to be comfortable walking in the shade. I told Dave when we left the house that I absolutely didn't want to go into a church today because they are always so freezing cold inside. And then, we walked past one of my favorite churches, Orsanmichele, and it was open. I had to go inside and take a few pictures. I haven't been able to go since 2001! Last year they only opened the church for concerts, but didn't allow visits.

Afterwards, we went to the Palazzo Vecchio to the anagrafe (registry office). There were only a few people when we arrived. The blonde woman at the information desk asked me, "Avete documenti e foto?" (Do you have your documents and photos). "Ś, signora." (Yes, ma'am) I responded. She handed us two numbers and I asked her, "Possiamo andarci insieme?" "Certo," (Certainly) she responded. I took the two numbers and we sat down.

When our number was called we went to the desk with the number "1" where a small man was waiting for us. We sat down in front of him and I told him that we wanted to get our carte d'identità.

I handed him our passports, our permessi di soggiorno, and the passport-sized photos. "Siete residenti, vero?" (You're residents, right) "Ś, signore." I responded.

He cut up the sheets of photos into four individual photos, put some sticky paper on the back of one, and stuck it to his keyboard. He found us in the computer, but still asked us to confirm all the information, like our address and our professions, and then asked us new questions, like our height, hair color, and eye color.

When he asked me, "Quanto è alto?" (How tall is he), we both looked blankly at each other. "Lo so in piedi," (I know it in feet) I told the man. He escorted Dave to a pole where he measured him and came back to tell me "un mètro ottantasette" (1m87).

We had to sign a few papers and our new carte d'identità. He stamped everything and asked us for 5,42 Euros each.

I asked him if I have to change my carta d'identità when I get my Italian citizenship and he said that I did. He told me that I looked more Latin and when he looked at my last name again, he said it to me. "Ś, i miei nonni nacquero in Italia," (My grandparents were born in Italy) I told him. "Ah, hai imparato l'italiano dai nonni?" "No, ho imparato l'italiano qui a Firenze."

We took our carte d'identità and said good-bye. I told him, "Buona festa!" since tomorrow is a holiday and most people are going to fare il ponte (take the weekend off, meaning Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).

When we walked out the waiting room, there were about 30 or so people waiting. Dave said, "I'm glad we got here earlier." I smiled and told him that usually 2:30 PM is a good time to go to the anagrafe because people don't usually go out until almost 4PM. I've noticed that in many places, like supermarkets and post offices, there aren't many people until about 4PM.


The whole process took us only about 15 minutes, from waiting to receiving our carte d'identità. It's great when things go so smoothly.

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