by Melinda Gallo

Portafoglio trovato

Today when Alessandro and I checked the buca delle lettere (mail box), which is just a slit in the portone (door) to our building, we found a portafoglio (wallet). The first thing we did was look at the documenti (papers) to see who it belonged to. I imagined it was someone who lived in our building, but we quickly found out that it belonged to a woman living near Pavia, which is in the north of Italy. Someone must have stolen it and discarded the portafoglio so that someone else would take care of returning the person's documenti to them.

The first thing I did was look up her name on the Pagine Bianche (White Pages), but she wasn't listed. I searched her son's name (whose documenti were in her portafoglio as well), and found one man. I immediately called the number, but no one answered.

After lunch, we tried calling again, but still no answer. We realized that possibly these people are visiting Florence for the weekend. Alessandro suggested that I drop it in a post box as the Post Office would probably take care of sending it to them. I considered the idea, but decided I would go and take it to the polizia (police) myself.

I have a friend who is a carabiniere (Italian military policeman) who sometimes works in Piazza della Signoria. I figured that I would ask him what to do.

When I reached the car where the carabinieri are, I noticed that my friend wasn't there. I told the carabiniere that I found a portafoglio and I didn't know what to do. "Vai al comando dietro gli Uffizi e consegnarlo. (Go to the office behind the Uffizi and hand it over.)"

I called Alessandro to tell him what I was going to do, and again he suggested to just pop it in a post box. I figured that because the comando was on my way back home, it'd be easy for me to just drop it off.

I arrived at the closed gate where a car was sitting in front. I asked the carabiniere in the car, "Come faccio per entrare? How do I go inside?" He told me to ring the campanello (bell), but there were two without a name next to them and one with the emergency number on it. When I got close to the right one, he said, "Sì, quello lì. Yes, that one."

After I rang it, a carabiniere appeared at the door of the building about twenty feet inside the gate. The carabiniere in the car said, "Il cancello è già aperto. The gate is already open."

When I walked into the office, there was one carabiniere who was talking to a man sitting next to him at the desk. "Prego Come in," he said and pointed to a set of six green wooden chairs facing each other in two rows. Luckily no one else was there because my knees were touching the seat in front of me.

I sat there for about ten minutes trying not to listen to the other man's conversation, but it was the only sound to be heard in the office. I had expected a busy police station for some reason like I've seen on TV, but instead it was incredibly quiet.

I looked around the room, which was painted a bleak yellow with sketches of different places in Italy. At first I thought they were all of Florence until I saw the Colosseum in Rome.

The carabiniere walked the man to the door and then made a gesture for me to come to his desk. I pulled out the portafoglio from my purse and explained that I had found it. He opened up the portafoglio and began pulling everything out of it. "Hai trovato soldi Did you find any money?" he asked. "Non ne ho visti I didn't see any," I said suddenly feeling guilty even though I certainly didn't do anything illegal. He motioned for me to sit down and I started to feel a little hot with my coat and scarf still on, but I didn't want to take anything off because I was hoping to leave quickly.

With a few strokes on his keyboard, he created a new denuncia (police report) and began filling it out. "Hai un documento Do you have your papers?" he asked me. I reluctantly pulled out my carta d'identità (ID card), which he used to get my information to type into the denuncia. He listed everything in the wallet, from the documenti to the family photos. He then asked me more questions about where and when I found it, which he typed into the denuncia.

After a couple of minutes, he printed out two copies of the denuncia for me to sign. He asked me if I wanted a copy, but I refused: I didn't know what I would do with it. "Ora cosa succede al portafoglio What happens now to the wallet?" I asked. He told me that they would try to find out where the woman is staying in Florence and give it back to her hopefully before she leaves.

The carabiniere walked me to the door and said goodbye to me as I left. Once I got outside of the gate, I called Alessandro to tell him what happened. I told him how I thought I was just going to drop it off, but that I had to sign a denuncia, which made me feel a little guilty. He said that's how they do it here and that's why he didn't want to take it to the carabinieri himself.

After all these years, I have never had to fill out or sign a denuncia ever before. And now in the span of a two months, I've had to sign two. The last one was for the banconota falsa (counterfeit bill) that someone passed onto me. I hope that today's denuncia will be my last for a while. I'd hate for them to come to my apartment someday asking me about banconote false and portafogli smarriti (lost wallets)!

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