This morning I had to go to the Azienda USL di Firenze, which is Florence's healthcare office, to renew my healthcare tessera (card). The tessera allows me to get free healthcare in Italy, but mine expired last year with my previous permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay). A friend of mine had to come as well to sign up and get her tessera, so we decided to go together and turn it into something fun and interesting to do.
My friend came to my apartment at this morning and we walked through the wet streets and past Piazza della Signoria to Borgo Ognissanti where the sede (head office) is for our area. We walked through the narrow church-like entrance and through to the courtyard. I asked the portiere (concierge) where the anagrafe (registry office) was and he pointed us in the right direction.
By the time we went upstairs and picked a number in front of the door for the anagrafe, it was 9 a.m. Another girlfriend of mine had recently been to the anagrafe and told me to make sure we arrived early because she had to wait a long time the last time she was there.
A woman called out our number only a half hour later and led us to her small office. I first spoke to her about my friend's situation and she explained what she had to bring and gave her a facsimile (copy) of the modulo (form) to fill out and how much to pay at the Poste (Post Office).
When she was finished, I handed her my tessera, permesso di soggiorno, carta d'identità (ID card), and a document with the information regarding my Partita IVA (VAT account) on it.
Within a few minutes, she was handing me my new five-year tessera, which matched with my five-year permesso di soggiorno, and the voucher that I have to bring to my medico di famiglia (family doctor), which they now call medico di base (main doctor). We checked how many people had chosen my medico di base to see if my friend could pick the same one, and we found out that mine already has over 1400 patients, but the limit is 1500, so she can take on new patients.
We were so close to the Chiesa di Ognissanti that we decided to go for a visit. I had told myself yesterday that if I get out of the office in time, I'll go check it out. And, fortunately my friend was up for the tourist detour and joined me for a quick visit.
I always find it amazing that I can walk inside a chiesa (church) and feel as if I'm so far from the hustle bustle outside the door. The city streets were crowded with cars, trucks were delivering to some of the shops, and people were walking down Borgo Ognissanti toward il centro (the center).
By noon I was back home with my new tessera and one more church visited under my belt. I don't know how many times I have walked past the Chiesa di Ognissanti and not walked in. It has been one of the churches that I had wanted to see. Sometimes the longer I live here, the harder it is for me to see and do things in the city because I know I'm not going anywhere. I can procrastinate all I want because the chiese and musei (museums) aren't going anywhere either.
I will continue to take time and drag my friends, if they happen to be with me, into other places I want to visit as much as I can. I love how the city continues to show me its riches as if my beloved city and I are getting to know each other even more. The other positive that I have come to understand is that these visits with my friends who also live here allow us to engage with our city and share our experience of Florence together.
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