Moving, cooking, and homesick blues

Moving, cooking, and homesick blues

Moving is difficult in a way that many don’t talk about. It’s a psychological upheaval, a dismantling of home. I was prepared for the culture shock, but I don’t think I was prepared for this feeling of the kitchen I’ve lost. There are all kinds of excitement and we’re settling in, finding a more permanent place to live and Marituccio found a job, but I’m also mourning my sense of home and place.

While I was preparing for the move to Italy, every time I was struck with terror, the what-ifs and the whys of moving, I would calm myself down by thinking about all the things I would be able to cook and eat once I was in Italy. I’d imagine the kitchen, my cookbooks and all the food I’d find in the markets.

And now that I’m here I keep wrinkling my nose or feeling weirdly blasé at the bounty. Fresh fish from the fishing boats that arrive in front of my window every morning? Ho-hum. My eyes glaze over the tangerines that are falling from the heavy trees. Inside the bakery I pass by the fresh warm loaves of bread that are almost steaming and grab a box of crackers.  I’m someone who can eat cheese 24 hours a day and I will stand in front of the cheese counter and take it all in and then walk away with nothing. Only sometimes a lemon tree will catch my eye and its sharp yellow vision jolts its way through the ennui into my heart and I’ll notice it and think, ‘o wow, isn’t that something.’ Continue reading “Moving, cooking, and homesick blues”

Moving
Fisherman at Ischia Ponte

Moving

It’s so beautiful here and this part of the world is where I’ve lived my most important and special and favourite childhood moments. I should be ecstatic, shouldn’t I? And there are wonderful things happening, I’ve been meeting people, making friends, getting to know other writers, drinking coffee at the bar, talking long walks along the sea front, hiking in the hills, watching the sun rise on one part of the island and then watching it set on the other side, listening to and absorbing the Neapolitan dialect and smiling and laughing at this familiar language that makes me feel at home. And yet?

I don’t like the food. I go shopping with Marituccio and let him cook and I eat and I don’t feel anything. Fuck the fresh fish and escarole. I want to eat burgers, ramen noodles and Chinese take away and make a Moroccan tagine stew with preserved lemons and za’tar. I want to eat shredded wheat for breakfast and beans on toast and a fried egg. I want a roast chicken with gravy and cranberry sauce. I want to eat an omelette with a slice of chevre cheese and a salad of wilted greens while listening to the BBC.

Moving

I miss the cooking that makes me feel at home, cozy, taking care of myself and Marituccio. At the moment, cooking is awkward, full of doubts, testing and wondering. I’ve tried making my mom’s recipes that come from the island, but I keep messing them up. And then I eat and there’s numbness, a pastiche of memories that don’t fit into my life right now.

Moving
Roccoco, Neapolitan Christmas cookies

Years ago, when I first moved to Rome, the first meal I cooked for myself was hot dogs and I would often get intense cravings for McDonald’s during those first months. Hot dogs and McDonald’s are things I hardly ever eat, but I did eat them when I was a kid, so I suppose I was looking for something comforting during those lonely, unfamiliar and difficult months. Right now I’m still shell-shocked and bamboozled. It’s like a bomb went off and I’m just emerging from the bunker waiting for the air to clear. Once it does, I’ll probably go to the garden and make myself something really good to eat and feel relieved.

Moving
I made bracciola for our first Sunday lunch in Ischia

 

A day of trekking in Ischia inspired by Patience Gray

A day of trekking in Ischia inspired by Patience Gray

The other night I was reading from Patience Gray’s awesome and strange Honey from a Weed. There is a section about trekking in the landscape around Castelpoggio, a small village high up in the hills above Carrara. She describes the vineyards, chestnuts groves, rocks, wild thyme and rabbit grass with such deep vegetal knowledge and poetic ramblings.

‘Flowers are not named, I realized, because in essence they are hay to a mountain peasant. They are unseen because no one goes into the mountain pastures until it is time to cut it…On these slopes which offer a marvellous view of the distant wall of mountains of the Garfagnagna, still crowned with snow, were to be found, on a groundwork of dwarf broom and heather, many orchises, leaves of hellebore as large as a peony’s, green spurges with coral centres, the yellow spurge which smells of honey, exquisite Solomon’s seal, wild fennel, and the sinister dragon arum growing in the cleft of a stream.’

She lists the overlooked flowers in a such gorgeous way that brought on an intense longing to go on a hike myself to explore Ischia’s hills.

Continue reading “A day of trekking in Ischia inspired by Patience Gray”

And so on Sunday, we drove up to Testaccio, a hamlet in the comune of Barano and tried to find one of the Lizard paths – I sentieri della lucertola. Barano has created a series of mountain paths in different parts of the comune that cut through the terraced fields and vineyards and offer amazing views of the sea and islands in the bay of Naples. Ischia Review has generously provided a section in English about all the trails and where to find them and we decided to take a call along the red lizard path in Testaccio. According to Ischia Review, you can find the entrance to the path near Nik Bar in the piazza, and when we got there was the sign on the sidewalk that had a map of the path, but we couldn’t find the entrance.

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

We asked some elderly gentleman at the bar, but none of them knew what we were talking about even when we showed them the sign. In the end, one of them told us to take the road behind the supermarket and we would find the entrance to a path there.

So we walked and climbed up a long narrow road behind the Deco supermarket, we saw lots of gardens and cats, but no paths. When we got to the end, there was a driveway up a little hill.

We saw an old lady smoking a cigarette and asked her if there was a trail and she pointed to a path that started behind a house. We walked across the sidewalk, said good morning to lady hanging out by the window and started our way to the mysterious ‘Tenuta di Cannavale.’

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

 

We started the steep climb through the woods that were full of chestnut trees. The path was kept clean and on certain steep climbs there was a wooden railing that helped you make it up. We passed by terraces and deep ravines and the terrain got rockier. When we got close, there was a sign with an arrow that pointed up another steep path with log steps.

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

And at the top of the steps the terrain opened up into a clearing and a vineyard.

A bit further there it was, the ‘Tenuta di Cannavale’. There were olive trees and a vineyard and at the top of the hill there was a sort of mountain house and picnic tables and this incredible view of the Castello Aragonese down below, Capri, Procida and the bay of Naples and the faint outline of Vesuvius and Napoli in the distance.

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking
‘It is forbidden to crush dreams.’

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

We sat quietly and ate the sandwiches we brought with us. I felt a bit like Patience Gray in the stillness and crisp air. I don’t know the names of mountain flowers, but maybe one day I will. On a half-sunny day in January, many things were growing and there was so much green. All of this coming green that’s promising a full explosion in spring in just a few months.

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

 

It turns out that the Tenuta di Cannavale is an organic vineyard and garden. According to the website, you can have dinner there by appointment and buy some of their local produce and products. You can reach it by various different trails some shorter than others, all accessed by the bus routes.

Tenuta di Cannavale Ischia Barano d'Ischia trekking

Ischia, our new home

Ischia, our new home

We arrived in Ischia here two weeks ago and it’s been strange, surreal and beautiful. People have been so helpful and kind here, willing to give us advice and help us get started. The bar downstairs from our flat is our hang out spot and we’ve have met lots of locals there. Our landlords are the best and just the other day, they brought us a fresh fish they had caught and some oranges and lemons from their garden.

It takes awhile settling in a new place and some days are better than others, but we’re pushing through it. Moving is a  psychological upheaval, whether you’re moving to a new neighbourhood, city or country, so I’m just trying to be kind to myself and sit and breathe when things feel lonely, sad and difficult. Going for walks helps a lot! Here are some pictures from our first two weeks here:

Continue reading “Ischia, our new home”

Ischia Ponte
This is our neighbourhood

 

Hanging laundry, Ischia Ponte
Me having fun doing chores

 

Marituccio exploring the seaside in Ischia Ponte with the Castello Aragonese in the background
Marituccio resting on some rocks in Ischia Ponte with the Castello Aragonese in the background
Hanging laundry at the Spiaggia di Pescatori, Ischia Ponte
Hanging laundry at the Spiaggia di Pescatori in Ischia Ponte

 

Typical courtyard in Ischia Ponte
Typical courtyard in Ischia Ponte

 

Orange trees, Corso Vittoria Colonna, Ischia Ponte
Orange trees!

 

Christmas lights at Ischia Ponte
Christmas lights at Ischia Ponte

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Step by step process of getting a Permesso di Soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen

Step by step process of getting a Permesso di Soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen

I had a difficult time getting the exact information of the kind of PdS I needed and how to apply for one and I needed to search tons of websites online in both English and Italian in order to get the correct information. I still didn’t get it all correct as I couldn’t find a complete list of the documents that I needed and I had to go to the Questura twice in order to get it fully processed.

So I thought I’d write it out here in case it would be useful to others in the same shoes.

What is the Permesso di Soggiorno?

One of the very first things one needs to do when arriving in Italy for a long-term stay is apply for the Permesso di Soggiorno, also known as the PdS. This is the Italian residency permit and all non-EU citizens need to apply for one if they are going to stay in Italy (or anywhere else in the EU) for longer than 90 days.

There are a number of different kinds of PdS one can apply for including: study, work, family reasons, minors, medical care, adoption, voluntary work, elective residency, and more.

Continue reading “Step by step process of getting a Permesso di Soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen”

How to get a Pds for the spouse of an Italian citizen

This is called Permesso di Soggiorno per coesione familiare (family unification).

Step 1: Entry Visa into Italy or Residency Permit if you are moving to Italy from another EU country

If you’re entering Italy from outside of the EU, you’ll need an entry visa for family reasons and will need to apply through the Italian consulate.

If you live within the EU and already have a residency permit for that country, you do not need a visa. As I am American that lived in London and have a residency permit for the UK, I didn’t need to get a visa. (I wasn’t entirely sure, so I went to the Italian consulate in London just to double check and they reassured me it wasn’t necessary.)

Step 2: Go to the Questura and bring the necessary documents

Once you arrive in Italy, you need to apply to the Questura in the zone where your partner is resident. As both me and D moved from London, he registered his residency at the town hall as soon as we arrived so he could get his certificate of residency.

As a spouse of an Italian citizen, you don’t need to apply with the PdS application through the post office. You can show up at the Questura with your spouse without an appointment and without an application. It seems unreal, but we did it and it worked.

You need to bring with you the following documents:

  • Marca da bollo of €16 (available at any tabaccaio)
  • 4 photos
  • Your passport and photocopy of every page with stamps and visas (no need to photocopy the empty pages)
  • PdS (if you already have one, i.e. you were already in Italy on a different type of PdS and you got married)
  • Marriage certificate and photocopy – if married abroad, marriage certificate must be translated. Both the translation and marriage certificate must each have an apostille for the documents to be valid.
  • Passport or identity card of Italian spouse and photocopy
  • If spouse is an EU citizen, you must have a document to prove that the spouse has been registered at the Anagrafe (registry office)
  • Certificate of residence of the spouse
  • Declaration of hospitality validated by the local Police Department (document signed by owner of the property where you’re staying that declares that you have permission to live there)

If you were married outside of Italy, and you can do it, try to get the marriage certificate and translation both apostilled while you’re within the country of origin. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to do it there. For me, I did it during my last two weeks in London and managed to get the documents certified with an apostille within 10 days.

The first time we went to the Questura of Venezia, I thought I had all of the documents, but I was missing one thing so had to get it and then go back. The administrator gave me a list of the documents that I needed which I’ll show you here. This is like gold to me! I couldn’t find this listed on any of the sites that I looked at in both English and in Italian so I’ll add it for you here.

List of documents for the Permesso di Soggiorno for the spouse of an Italian citizen

I was missing the declaration of hospitality, so I downloaded the form from the town hall website and then went to get it signed by the local police. Unfortunately, our town no longer has a physical police building, but officers have an office set up at the weekly market. We went there to get it signed and had a nice chat with them about life and they wished us luck.

Questura – my experience

I’ve lived in Italy before and had to apply for a PdS at both the Questura di Roma and Napoli, so I was familiar with the bureaucratic confusing hell of the immigration progress and endless waiting at the Questura. The Questura di Venezia wasn’t as bad as the one in Rome, but I was afraid of going there without an appointment. In the end it was okay. We waited a half hour in a queue outside to get in and I left my passport with the guard and was told to wait inside. We waited about 2.5 hours before we saw someone and then they completed the application for me and I signed the papers and then waited some more to get my fingerprints taken. After that, I received a temporary paper version of the PdS that’s valid for three months. I have to go back in February to get the official version, but in the meantime this will let me sign up in the registry office, get residency, and get an ID card.

As comparison, when I moved to Italy back in 2009, I applied for my PdS at the post office in July, got called to the Questura to hand in my paperwork and do my fingerprints in November and picked up my PdS in January 2010. I wasn’t able to get residency until July 2010 (for other bureaucratic reasons that’s too boring to tell here).

I wish you all who are going through this the best of luck and to have a lot of patience. Bring snacks, a book and crossword puzzle with you to your appointment and some tissues in case you need to use the bathroom and there’s no toilet paper.

 

Getting Italian Citizenship Through Marriage

Getting Italian Citizenship Through Marriage

UPDATED: *16 Oct 2017

I’ve recently applied for my Italian citizenship. (Thank you, Marituccio!) And while my application was accepted and I had my appointment at the Italian consulate in London, I now have to sit and wait for maximum of two years to get my letter that says I’m officially Italian.

For those of you who have to go through the same thing, I’m going to tell you how to do it.

  1. Collect the documents (see below)
  2. Prepare yourself to spend some cash on translations, certifications, fingerprints, and apostilles.
  3. Submit your application and upload your documents online at the Ministero dell’Interno website (also known as ALI).
  4. The consulate will view your application and either accept it, deny it, or accept it with reservations (which happened to me because I uploaded the documents in the wrong way. Make sure when you upload, keep the documents — such as criminal records – state, FBI, and translations, all in one pdf)
  5. Once the consulate accepts your application you will be called in for an interview to hand in your documents, sign the application and pay for the certifications of the photocopies of you and your spouse’s passports and translation of the UK police certificate.
  6. The consulate will send your documents to the Ministero dell’Interno where they will then process it and then inform the consulate. You will then get a letter that you are officially an Italian citizen.

Time frame – I applied online in Dec 2016 and didn’t get my appointment at the consulate until Oct 2017. In the meantime, I wrote to the consulate numerous times and only when I told them that I was moving back to Italy that I got a response — first they looked at my application online and then they called me for an interview. The consulate has been swamped since Brexit as everyone and their mother in the UK that’s eligible for citizenship is applying and there are only two (TWO) people processing citizenship applications. I feel for them and understand that people in the consulates across the world are overworked. So, be prepared to wait.

If you apply for citizenship within Italy, the process can be a lot faster. Once we move to Italy, I may hear from the Italian government sooner as the answer will no longer have to go through the consulate, but I’m preparing myself for the worst and maybe I’ll be presently surprised.

(While Italian bureacracy is a soul-crushing bitch, after seeing what other friends and family members have gone through, this isn’t as complicated as getting British citizenship or a US greencard.)

Continue reading “Getting Italian Citizenship Through Marriage”

Italian Citizenship through Marriage — documents you need

If you are married to an Italian citizen, you are eligible for citizenship after being 2 years of marriage if you reside in Italy and 3 years if you live abroad. (You can apply after 18 months no matter where you are if you have a child together). [UPDATE: As of February 2017, you can apply for Italian citizenship as soon as your marriage is registered in Italy]. If you reside abroad, your spouse must be registered with l’AIRE (l’Anagrafe degli Italiani Residenti all’Estero) at the nearest Italian Consulate where you live. When we decided to get married, I was like to D, “Dood, you gotta do it.” Otherwise anything that he wanted to do he would have to go to Italy (get a new ID card, renew passport, register marriage, etc).

Since I’m an American from New York that resides in the UK, I’m going to tell you what I need to specifically get. Substitute your country and state where applicable.

Documents You Need

  • Unsigned application.
  • Estratto per riassunto dell’atto di matrimonio. This is a document issued by the Italian municipality where the Italian spouse is registered and has had the marriage registered. Since me and D registered our marriage at the Consulate in London, we don’t need this form since they already have us on record. *So they say on the website. But they also say to call just to make sure.
  • Full birth certificate. I was born in New York, so I needed to get this through the New York State Department of Health. (Not through the town hall where you were born as I first thought) This needs to be translated and certified in New York State. I also need to get an apostille through the New York State government. More info about the apostille can be found here.
  • Certificate of no criminal records from your country. For those who are from the US, you will need one from the FBI and one from every state that you have lived in since you were 14 years old. So that means for me one from the FBI and one from NY State. (If I had gone to university or lived in another state, I would have to get forms from those states, too.) Each of these documents needs to be translated, certified, and with an apostille. Here are links to the FBI and NY State Criminal sites. You need to get the apostille from the US government for the FBI certificate and they apostille from New York State for the NY police records. These documents are valid for only 6 months, so make sure you don’t get them too far in advance.
  • Certificate of no criminal records from the UK. More info on the certificate is here. This also needs to be translated,  certified, and be legalised. The London Consulate says that they can certify this on the spot when I come in for the citizenship appointment. More info on the British apostille can be found here. Again, this document is valid for only 6 months. The consulate advises you to get this done after you make the appointment.
  • Copy of the applicant’s passport and photocopy of the title page.
  • Copy of the applicant’s UK resident permit (if applicable). The original and photocopy of the title page.
  • Italian spouse’s passport and photocopy of the main pages.
  • 200 Euros.

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