While I’m not much of a fan of small town life, there are moments when it’s very useful.
Today we went down to the municipal offices at Montereale Valcellina to see about getting my identity card. The offices were open later in the morning than the ones we’ve been going to of late, so we didn’t have to get out of the house quite so early.
The line was very short and my brother talked to the lady behind the counter, who gave us some forms to fill out, but said we have to get my Codice Fiscale before we do anything else. This is the Italian tax number, without which you can’t do much of anything. No getting a phone, no opening a bank account, not getting internet, any of that kind of thing. There’s no Agenzia Entrate office in Montereale, so my brother assumed we’d have to go over to Pordenone to the main office there.
“Try Maniago first,” the lady said. “There’s a small office there. They might do this.”
Maniago is larger than Montereale but not really by that much. The town was pretty quiet when we arrived, though presumably busy enough for a town of its size during a week day. We parked and walked along the narrow streets out into the main piazza, then through some open passageways to the back of a complex that included shops, a grocery store, offices, and the Agenzia Entrate.
The place might as well have been deserted. One woman was leaving as we arrived, and we were seen immediately. The clerk there had us sign in on a piece of paper. “We need to keep track of who comes, because we don’t get many people here and we’re trying to justify keeping the office open,” she said. The process took maybe fifteen minutes; I filled out some papers and left with a new Codice Fiscale that will enable me to actually interact with all the various services here.
My brother was practically dancing on the way out of the office. “If we’d gone to Pordenone, this would have taken hours. There probably would have been a couple of hundred people in front of us. I’ve been living here for years and never even knew this office existed.”
I am all in favor of tiny offices where the clerks are happy to actually see someone come in so they’ll have something to do. It certainly made my life easier. Most of the people we’ve encountered are surprised that I’m not here on a work visa. Apparently almost everyone is, unless you’re in a big university area, in which case you might be a student. Away from the base at Aviano, Americans around here are a little unusual, but once they’ve got it figured out the process has been easy enough.
There wasn’t enough time to finish filling out the paperwork for my ID card before the Montereale municipal offices closed for the day, so we’ll go in to file that tomorrow or the next day. I think they’re only open three days a week, in the morning, so we might have to wait until Friday. I wasn’t clear on the whole thing, as everything was (of course) taking place in Italian and my brother, while keeping me informed, wasn’t translating everything.
When we got home, I finished with the forms. Once I’ve filed for the card, the police will come by to see that I’m actually living where I say I am, and I can then pick the card up.
Today I also made my first trip to an Italian grocery store. This was one of the larger ones, and things were set up slightly differently than US stores, but enough was familiar that I didn’t feel too out of place. What has been a bit odd for me in the shops and bars is that the Italians don’t hand you your change. They set it down on the counter and you pick it up from there. Holding out my hand for the change is a lifelong reflex and will probably be a little hard to avoid until I get used to this.
I’ve got a habit of reading ingredient lists on things that I buy, which is kind of a challenge here, given my very limited Italian skills. Thankfully, I was only buying juice, and all I had to really check for was whether or not there was apple in it; I know the word for apple. In the US, nearly any juice that isn’t sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners has got apple juice in it, and I’m allergic to apples, so I always had to read the labels to make sure I wasn’t going to poison myself. Sometimes the same brand would change the formulation and I would end up disappointed and juiceless. Here in Italy, ingredient lists are a lot shorter. I’m very pleased by this, as it means there’s less crap in the food. I’m really looking forward to having my own place, and my own kitchen again. Cooking is going to be an adventure.
Also? Italian artichokes are really really tasty.