Living in Rome
The residents of Rome have elected a new Mayor. For the first time in history a woman was chosen, Virginia Raggi (from the 5 Stelle Movement), who has taken upon herself to clean up the municipality and re-invest into the city. To illustrate the magnitude of her task, I thought I would transcribe a recent encounter I had at the Municipio II which turned out to be a real test for my nervous system.
When I first registered as a resident in Rome, my local Borough (Municipio or Comune II) made a mistake in registering my surname. They unilaterally decided to register both my surname and my spouse’s. So for them, I became VENUS-MARS, with an hyphen, when my surname is actually VENUS only (as it appears on all my other documents). The mistake came from the fact that on my French passport my married name is also specified, although the Comune II decided to read it as one single surname. Going back there to redress the situation was a kafkaesque nightmare, which I can only express by transcribing the conversation I had.
Me: I would like to correct my name to my maiden name as it is the only one I use.
Comune: but you have the two names on your passport?
Me: they are indicated separately, not as one name with an hyphen; it reads “Venus, spouse Mars”, so the name you registered is not correct
Comune: I can’t change it just like that
Me: on my codice fiscale (the standard ID number used in Italy for all sorts of administrative procedures), there’s only one name, as you can see
Comune: you should change the Codice Fiscale then
Me: why should I if it has the right name on it?
Comune: then you have to bring me an official certificate from your embassy stating that Venus and Venus-Mars are the same person
(Duration of the session: two hours including the wait plus one hour commute to and back)
On such words of advice, I organise to go to my national embassy to request the said certificate, and I return to the Comune a couple of days later.
Me (to a different officer): I would like to correct my name, I have provided the requested “certificate of same person” from my embassy.
The person looks carefully at the document, and start asking me all the other pieces of evidence required such as my passport and a photocopy, my ID as well as my resident card. Everything seems to be in order to the great disappointment of the officer at the counter. After a few minutes, she says:
Comune: I can’t use this “certificate of same person”
Me: Why not? This is exactly what I was asked from this administration
Comune: well, how do I know which name is the right one?
Me: What do you mean? it says that both names are the same person
Comune: how do I know which one is the real one? Is it Venus or Venus-Mars?
Me: but both are the same person, and this certificate proves it!
She leaves me at the counter for a few minutes to consult one of her colleagues. On her return, she breaks the news:
Comune: I can’t use it as it is. I need the certificate to specify which name is the name to use. You need to go back to your embassy to ask them to redo it.
Me: so please, write down exactly the sentence as you want it
From my experience, I know that there is no point insisting at this stage. She writes down the requested addition to the certificate. Defeated, I leave. As a gesture, she offers to leave the case open for a couple of days, so I don’t need to queue again. When I tell the whole story to my embassy, they agree that after such unsuccessful visits to the Comune, it is legitimate to want to strangle them! I nevertheless return with the required piece of paper.
Me: The embassy made the change as requested, using the exact term you wrote down yourself.
Comune: did you bring your passport and a photocopy?
I hand over everything I have, the officer looks at the new certificate and ponders for a few minutes, with an expression of intense reflexion on her face. I am quietly waiting for her verdict.
Comune: it is not in the right place
Me: what do you mean, it is not in the right place?
Comune: they should have written at the bottom of the certificate that the person is usually known as VENUS, not at the start as they did.
Me: (not telling the truth) the embassy consulted their Italian lawyer who advised them to write it like that.
Puzzled, she reverts to her colleague for advice. They both remain puzzled, not sure what they are supposed to do.
Comune: ok, I will do it this time, but this certificate is no different. I could have just used the previous one
Me: (wanting to scream but thinking to myself that it is better to say nothing)
Comune: did you bring a photocopy of the certificate?
Me: you can keep the original, I have two copies now
She is once again checking all the documents to amend my name on the computer.
Comune: I have done it, your name has been amended to VENUS.
Me: thank you, here is the form to correct it on the ID card
Comune: did you bring photos?
Me: yes, here there are.
Comune: I can’t do it
Comune: you need a Residence permit
Me: But I have one
Comune: but now that you have a new name, you need a new Residence permit…..