Going to Ikea and the Neapolitan way to ‘sdrammatizzare’

Going to Ikea and the Neapolitan way to ‘sdrammatizzare’

Me and D found long-term housing and recently moved to a lovely little yellow house in Forio on the other side of the island. Before we moved, we went to Ikea to pick up a few things to set up the kitchen and while I was excited to go on the mainland for a day trip, D was in a bad mood.  He was nervous about driving since our 12-year old Fiat Punto was acting like a dick, the starter wasn’t firing the engine every time you turn the key. You have to do it a few times before it starts. It isn’t a big deal if you’re in a parking lot, but if you’re in a queue to get on and off the ferry it can be nerve-wracking. Also I think the car senses D’s mood because the more nervous he gets the more it acts up. You have to be pretty zen around the car, basically you have to not give a shit about cars beeping all around you waiting for you to get out of the way.

Continue reading “Going to Ikea and the Neapolitan way to ‘sdrammatizzare’”

Our 12-year old moody Fiat Punto that has made 5 trips to Venice so far.

The day of our Ikea trip, D wasn’t feeling very zen around the car and I was trying to keep the mood light. We weren’t off to a good start (pun intended) because every time we had to turn off the car (at the ticket office, at the port, in the queue), it took forever to get it to start again and cars beeped and sped around us, giving us stare downs as they passed. D was doing breathing exercises to keep himself from losing his shit and I ate snacks trying not to get bummed out by the car.

Finally we got on the ferry, but the big showdown was having to drive off the ferry an hour later when we arrived at Pozzuoli. Of course the car wouldn’t start and we were left sputtering on the boat while all the other cars zoomed off. D was sweating bullets and wanted to scream, but instead he shouted to some ferry workers who were hanging out by the opening and waved them down for help.

The guys from the ferry pushed our car right to where that Fiat Panda is

They came running over and D goes, ‘I need to push the car off the ferry’ and they immediately got into position. I sat in the passenger seat and looked at them in the rear view mirror and I saw them smiling, like this was something interesting for them. As the car started to gain speed from four guys pushing it, D jumped in the driver seat to steer the car.

‘Put it in third!,’ one of the guys shouted and they all laughed, their laughter echoing across the walls of the empty belly of the ferry. It sounded like a school cafeteria and everyone was excited to have a break.

I realised a bit of magic was happening. The Neapolitan art of ‘sdrammitazzare’, the art of taking the drama out of something, downplaying the bad vibes and turning it into a party. The guys pushing our car were having fun! They pushed the car off the ferry ramp and wheeled it to the side of the road. And then instead of walking away, they all crowded around the car, fighting with each other to take turns turning on the car and discussing what was really wrong. They wanted to know where we were going, what we were going to buy, what we did for work and where we lived on the island.

‘O, so we’re neighbours,’ one of the guys said. ‘We’ll see each other again!’

And another asked me, ‘But do you trust this guy to take you where you need to go?’

‘I have no choice.’ I said and that was so funny and we all laughed.

And then D shouted to everyone to be quiet and he turned the key half way. You could hear the subtle buzzing of the mechanism firing some gasoline into the engine. He turned the key and the car roared alive. We all shouted and clapped and the guys shook our hands and we thanked them a million times and they waved us goodbye and wished us a fun trip to Ikea.

And our mood was changed, and just like that life was different, clearing away the anxiety and self-questioning and we were happy puttering our way to Ikea.

It’s a great word. Sdrammatizzare. Downplay the negativity and take the situation lightly. Neapolitans, who are also masters at pouring drama into the most mundane everyday occurrences (just try having a conversation on a Monday about what to make for Sunday lunch next week), are known for this. Like ants attacking a breadcrumb, they’ll surround someone who is sad or in a bad mood and try to show them that they’re not in as bad of a place as they really are. And yeah, they can also take the act of sdrammatizzazione too far when they ignore societal or political problems, but it works well for a lot of things during everyday life.

La Pulcinella

This Neapolitan lesson of sdrammatizzazione has been incredibly helpful during these first few months of moving back to Italy. Sure there’s a lot to complain about and it’s easy to think that every difficulty that we come across is a sign that we can’t achieve what we really want. I can hear those voices from family members that told me that Italy was an impossible place to live in, that my parents sacrificed everything to give me a better life and now I want to turn my back on them and go live in Italy. But there is this new voice that comes, a Neapolitan voice that says, ‘Hey, look at you! You have a job and a place to live and so what if there’s the unknown in front of you. You have new friends and neighbours and people that care about you here and want to see you stay. So here, sit down. You hungry? Here’s a plate of cheese, bread, and my mother’s canned vegetables.’

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.