We have acquired the best souvenir possible. But it's not what you might think. By now I'm sure you've ruled out the obvious: a wooden pinocchio, a Venetian glass dish, a miniature Colosseum, a painting of a gondola or St. Peter's, a colorful scarf, an old black and white photograph of St. Anthony's Basilica, a fancy cheese grater, an Italian moka (coffee maker), etc. These are all--with the exception of the corny miniature Colosseums, which are horrendous--very nice things that have their place and do actually represent a true part of Italian culture. Our souvenir, however, is much more unique. We finally have, in hand, our permesso di soggiorno to take home with us!
These permits of stay are really shiny, official looking cards; even the kids have their own. For those of you who have been following our Italian saga from the beginning, you probably recall well the horrendous and entirely un-exaggerated episodes I told of the Italian consulate, police station, and immigration offices where we would wait for hours and hours only to be told yet another tall tale about what new document or special seal or pricey tobacco stamp we needed now. From October until now we have just been waiting (legally) with our receipts for these electronic permits of stay to come. We found out that they were finally ready, so I went in person, kids in tow, a few days ago to make the appointment (naturally you must go in person to make an appointment) to collect the permits. And today we went, to at last pick up the results of our five hundred dollars and literally thirty hours of running mazes of red tape. To me, getting our permessi di soggiorno is the best souvenir we could ever get: proof that we have joined the ranks of the elite few who have successfully made it through the ever-changing hoops of Italian bureaucracy.