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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.

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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.


Big News!!!

Big News!!!

Normally, October is my least favourite month of the year. Summer fades away and in its place are dying leaves, cold air and Halloween. Pass me the puke bag, please. But this year I’m distracted and hardly notice that the earth is tilting away from my beloved sun, that last flash of beauty as nature sheds itself and prepares itself for winter’s sleep. I’m too busy cleaning, organising, making phone calls, booking a moving van and giving notice to our landlord. Because we’re doing it! We’re moving back to Italy. And I’m so fucking scared and so fucking excited and don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I’m doing it anyway.

We’re moving to Ischia, the island in the bay of Naples, nestled right into the volcanic bed of the Phlegrean Fields. Napoli and the towns that stud its velvet sulphuric cloak are in the lovely position of being ready to blow at any moment. O that beauty of straddling life and death, the paradox of simultaneous violence and joy, and the conviviality between reality and the imaginary. We’re going right to the heart of it ready to realise the dream of having our own lemon tree.

I’ll keep writing here about all the paradoxes, contradictions, culture clashes, panic attacks, spiritual adventures, Italian discoveries, gastronomic gut-busting orgasms, and lazy explorations of island life in the meridian. There’ll be a lot of joy in there, too.

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Moving to Ischia - Boat
A boat waiting for its launch
Moving to Ischia - Morning
A crispy morning in September
Moving to Ischia - Castello at Sunrise
The Castello Aragonese at sunrise. You can see Capri to its right.
Moving to Ischia - Kitchen
And me sitting in the quiet morning not believing that this is really happening. Waiting for someone to tell me no, you can’t do it, but I’m doing it!




Top 6 books that try to explain Italy

Top 6 books that try to explain Italy

I remember back in early 2008 when I was working in an art warehouse in the midst of an industrial wasteland in Newark, New Jersey, I would get through the day by reading all the news I could about Italy online. I mostly read John Hooper’s articles for The Guardian  reading about the April general elections and Berlusconi running again for prime minister, the rubbish crisis in Naples, Alitalia on the brink of bankruptcy and the circus surrounding the Amanda Knox trial in Perugia.

During that time, I was preparing to move to London to study for a masters degree and I remember asking myself why I was obsessed with reading about what was happening in Italy. And I asked myself the question even though I knew it was because I was preparing myself to move to Italy. London was just the first step, what I really wanted was to move to Italy and stay there forever. (In hindsight, I could have taken a more direct route by doing a masters in Rome, but I was compelled to take a more poetic, meandering journey which, as you know, hasn’t stopped yet. Going directly to Italy was too obvious.)

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Anyway, I did, I moved to London, then to Rome and then back to London again where I’ve been for the past 5 years plotting a way to go back and stay back. And in the meantime, I’ve been continuing my Italian education, talking, writing and reading in Italian, watching movies, listening to podcasts, and going back to Italy any chance I can get to hang out with family and in-laws.

Ischia panoramica Hotel Europa

First hand experience with Italian culture and learning from friends and family is important, but I’ve found that reading books about Italy, especially those written by writers who want to untangle the mysterious, chaotic and paradoxical Italian culture, helps me enormously. I’ve found that these books have explained a lot of my upbringing and have helped clear the murkiness I felt whenever I asked questions about Italy to my parents and they couldn’t really answer.

Ischia caffe

So here is a list of books that I recommend for those that are planning to move to Italy, those that want to understand their heritage, and for those that just love Italy and want something that goes deeper than the dolce-vita-let’s-buy-a-ruin-in-tuscany-and-renovate-it-and-look-at-the-view-and-be-seduced-and-get-down-to-our-basic-instincts. (Although I love those books, too).

In no order:

  1.  A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics 1943-1980 by Paul Ginsburg: This is a completely thorough historical analysis of post-war Italy replete with appendices with charts and data. I read this while I was living in Rome and it completely opened my mind. Suddenly the names of the streets had meaning like viale Palmiro Togliatti that cuts through Rome north via south. (The street’s named after the leader of the Communist Party who helped put together a new government at the end of WWII. Pretty cool that the Italians would name a street after a Communist leader. You wouldn’t see that in the States.) This book has helped me pick up on tons of cultural and historical references that are found in films and song lyrics. It helped me place stories told to me by family, friends and acquaintances within a historical context. It’s a dense read, but very worth it and will ease a sense of isolation if you’re living in Italy.
  2. An Italian Education by Tim Parks: Tim Parks is a British writer and translator that has been living in Italy since 1981. His books about Italy are witty, educational, and endearing and he has that great British self-deprecating humour. In this one, he writes about his children going to school and growing up in Italy, but by the time you reach the end you realise that he’s really writing about his own education and how his children who are more Italian than English are teaching him what it is to be Italian
  3. The Italians by Luigi Barzini: This book came out in 1964 by the Italian journalist and has been in print ever since. Even though it’s outdated in parts and spends a bit too long chronicling the views foreigners had on Italy from the Renaissance through to the 19th century, it really tries to understand the psyche of Italians and how they try to make the dull facts of life beautiful and ceremonial while hiding the ugly and the tragic from public view. (Is that why so many things are unsaid and unshared in my family and we carry the agony and difficult things alone in our guts?
  4. The Italians by John Hooper: Hooper is the Italian correspondent for The Economist and a former foreign correspondent at The Guardian covering Italy and Spain. Taking the title of Barzini’s book, The Italians is a fun and perceptive look at contemporary Italian culture and Hooper dismantles a lot of the stereotypes and uses facts to explain parts of Italian life like their reluctance to use a dishwasher, changing attitudes to sex, corruption and the mafia, and why there’s not word in Italian for hangover.
  5. Five Quarters by Rachel Roddy (also known as A Kitchen in Rome in the US): This is a cookbook that I have to throw in here because she tells stories about her life in Rome using food. Rachel Roddy is a former actor and present British food writer that lives in Rome with her partner and son. I devour her weekly column in The Guardian and I love this cookbook. Her recipes are simple and while I’m aware of already and have made a lot of the recipes that she writes, the stories that go along with them, such as stealing lemons from a tree that hangs over the wall or a particular lazy morning at home in her flat, make Rome come to life and I can feel it like I’m back there again. She makes connections with the people in her neighbourhood, the market vendors, restaurant chefs and shop-owners and you can feel what it’s like to be part of the city, not just as an ex-pat who is observing life from the outside. She’s my favourite food writer.
  6. La Bella Figura by Beppe Severgnini: I’ve seen this book everywhere in bookshops across Italy and in the UK. When I was living in Rome, I saw this book in the English section every time I went to La Feltrinelli in Largo Argentina and I never ever picked it up to read the back of the cover. The cover looked stupid and it took me 7 years to finally read it and damn, it would have made things better for me when I was in Rome. It’s similar to The Italians by Barzini in that it seeks to explain to foreigners things such as the theatrical spirit of life in Italy, the Italians relationship to the traffic light, the importance of the beach, and the furnishings of a typical apartment. La Bella Figura is funnier than Barzini’s The Italians and gives a modern view of what life in Italy is like today. You can read more of Severgnini’s work in The New York Times. He also has a regular column in Il Corriere della Sera called Italians written for Italians abroad.

Other books:

Here’s a list of other non-fiction books and memoirs about Italy that I’ve read. I’ve put a star next to the ones that I particularly liked.

*The Land Where Lemons Grow – Helena Atlee (about the history of lemon groves in Italy)

*La Bella Lingua – Dianne Hales (about the Italian language)

Head over Heel – Chris Harrison (about living in Puglia)

Italian Hours – Henry James

*In Other Words – Jhumpa Lahiri (about learning Italian, written in Italy and translated into English)

Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes (living in Tuscany)

The Stones of Florence and Venice Observed – Mary McCarthy

Italian Neighbours – Tim Parks (living outside Verona)

*Italian Ways – Tim Parks (about traveling through Italy by train)

*Midnight in Sicily – Peter Robb (about Sicily, the history of the mafia, and the political climate from the 1970s to 90s)

Reflections in Blue Water – Alan Ross (living on the Italian islands)

*My Italians – Roberto Saviano (series of essays about various aspects of Italian society, translated in English)

Bitter Almonds – Mary Taylor Simeti and Maria Grammatico (about the story of Maria Grammatico and her pastry shop)

Only in Naples – Katherine Wilson (about living in Naples)







Tips For Travelling Alone

Tips For Travelling Alone

When I was a teenager, I would daydream about travelling alone. It was ultimate sign of ball-busting independence: Going to bars and restaurants alone and talking to strangers, taking risks, making friends along the way, lounging in a park and sketching in my notebook, and spending countless hours of wandering and walking and looking.

Growing up in New York in a tight-knit Italian family where there was always someone to help you or do it for you (whether that’s cooking, washing the clothes, choosing friends, or how to wear your hair), I knew that in order for me to learn how to be on my own and have a cool life the way I dreamed it to be, I needed to go far enough away so that when things got difficult I wasn’t tempted to go back home. I dreamed that one day I could be the type of person that could travel alone, to go to strange places and try to speak their language, to be free and mobile with just a backpack on my back. Hah! When I went away to college, I chose one that was nearby and by the end of the first semester, I had left the dorm and moved back home. I was so angry with myself! But then I got the chance to spend a year abroad at Oxford for my junior year, I knew that was my chance!

It was a difficult year since it was my first time away, but I pushed myself and by the end of the year I had gotten enough confidence in myself to spend the summer travelling on my own. I went to Paris, Amsterdam, Florence, and Athens and after that I spent most of my 20s travelling and living on my own in different countries and learning languages.

Travelling solo is a great way to learn about yourself and even if you’re scared about being lonely or put into uncomfortable situations, do it! The great thing about travelling alone is that the cultural differences will have a greater impact on you as you experience them on your own and you’ll be able to notice more subtleties and nuances and learn more about yourself along the way.

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Tips on Travelling Solo:

  1. PACK LIGHTLY: Bring as little clothes as possible. (Easy to do in the summer). Wear a backpack or push around a little trolley. You’re on your own so you won’t be able to leave your bag with a friend while you run to the toilet or check out the newsagent while you’re waiting for the train. Don’t worry about not packing enough underwear to last you the trip. Do your laundry in the laundromats.
    paris laundromat
    Laundromat in Paris

    I’ve always liked doing my laundry in strange cities, it made me feel like I was part of place and it was a great place to people watch. Just bring a book.

  2. MAKE SURE WHICH HOTELS OR HOSTELS ARE OPEN LATE: If you arrive late in a city and you haven’t booked a place to stay, make sure you know which places are open. You don’t want to be searching alone late at night for a place to sleep.
  3. BE SAFE: I don’t mean to sound like your mom and don’t avoid visiting a place on your own just because it seems dangerous (Naples, Mexico City, Bangkok). But you can set a few rules for yourself to keep yourself out of harms way, while still enjoying your freedom to travel.
  • Trust your instinct. I once took a self defense class and the instructor said that of all the stories she’s heard from people who have gotten mugged, raped, and assaulted happened because they didn’t follow their instinct. So, if going down that alley feels wrong, even if it’s in the middle of the day and there are people all around, listen to yourself. Don’t do it.
  • Stay in open and public spaces, especially at night. Use your judgment. When I lived in Mexico City, I never ventured out alone in the city after 10 pm, even if there were people around. That said, if you’re in Rome hanging out in the piazza that’s full of people at 12:30 at night is a pretty good place to be.
  • Walk with confidence and purpose, like you own the place. When I was 21, I spent 4 months living in Florence. In the beginning, I was shy and I got lots of unwanted attention from men on the street. I kept my head down and walked quickly, but some would follow me or shout after me. But as I got used to the place and started to feel more comfortable, I started to look at the annoying men in the eye. If they said hello, I brightly and exuberantly said hello back, which made them run away.
  • Moderate your drinking. By all means have a glass of wine or two, but make sure you keep your wits about with you, so you can travel home safely. And if you need to, spend the money on a cab home.
  • Keep your wallet close to you. Carry cash and cards in separate places. Keep copies of your passport. If you sit down at an internet café or a restaurant, make sure your bag stays on your lap or next to you. Even better keep a small cross-body bag on you at all time with your most important things. I once made the mistake of putting my bag under my chair and when I got up to leave, it wasn’t there anymore.
  1. EAT, EAT, EAT: I love taking myself out to dinner with a notebook and trying new foods. But it can also get tiring always eating alone. If you’re uncomfortable eating alone, you can get some nice picnic foods and sit in a park. It’s also cheaper. Also, travelling alone doesn’t mean you’re always alone and it’s easy to make friends along the way. And if that’s difficult for you, too, you can also check out this website Invite for a Bite You can organize or join a meet-up group for a meal in whatever city you are visiting. It’s a great way to both travel solo and have some company.
  2. DOCUMENT: Take photos and keep a notebook. Selfies are great, but also take snapshots as little souvenirs and reminders not made for social media. Keeping a notebook is a great way to remember and place to paste all those ticket stubs, maps, and flyers that you’ve collected.
  3. KEEP AN OPEN MIND: Say yes to meeting someone and travelling together on a whim, take a chance on a taking part in a guided tour that you know nothing about, push your boundaries and go on that diving exhibition even though you’re afraid of sharks (maybe).
    Sunrise in Tulum, Mexico
    Sunrise in Tulum, Mexico

    That’s what’s great about travelling. You allow yourself to be open and vulnerable and you can get some great experiences from it. Of course, you follow your instincts and say no when it feels bad and you’ll know when to say no.

  4. CARRY A DICTIONARY: Make an effort to learn a few words in the language. Even if it’s just please and thank you. Natives will admire you for making the effort and it’s a great way to break down some barriers
  5. TAKE YOUR TIME: Even if you prepare yourself beforehand, there are going to be long queues, flight, bus and train delays, and cancellations at the last minute. Relax and try to take it for what it is, you’re on holiday and no one is expecting you to be anywhere. Put on your headphones and open your book and sit back and wait.
  6. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ALONE: If you get tired of being alone, don’t beat yourself up for it. Join a tour group for a day trip, look up online for a an expat-meetup group in the city, linger over breakfast in the hotel and talk to some other guests, pick your head up from your book and look around the room. If you’re feeling lonely, don’t beat yourself up for it, but realize that you have the advantage of meeting people because you’re travelling solo.
  7. DO YOUR OWN THING: There’s no right or wrong way to travel. If you feel like crossing off every item listed in your guideback, go for it. If you want to sit next to the Acropolis finishing your Danielle Steele novel, that’s great! No one’s testing you on this shit, it’s all about you and your stories.



A little explanation about The Limonata Lounge

A little explanation about The Limonata Lounge

I’ve had this blog for over a year now and slowly I’ve been developing it into something that encompasses all the dreams that I have inside of me.

The Limonata Lounge is a place where you can embrace a solitude filled with light and beauty, comraderie and a sense of belonging. It’s not just a place that contains these things, but also a place where things happen, where you can create, think, learn, and let the beautiful parts of you shine outwards into the world.

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lemons copy

To me, it’s the place that exists inside of me of where I’ve always wanted to be. If you poke around the site, you’ll find out that I’ve always wanted to be in Italy. I was born and raised in New York, but every summer we would go to Italy, to a small town in the province of Naples, Monte di Procida where we had a house. Papa was from there and my mother was from the nearby island of Ischia, so we would always spend time there, too.

I was a lonely child. I had lots of siblings and cousins back in the States, but they were very much older than me and most of them were starting to get married and have children by the time I was born. But in Italy, there were so many cousins my age and there my solitude abated. I loved it there so much. Of hanging out by the sea, playing barefoot with my cousins in the garden under the lemon tress, of long evenings on the terrace. I loved the church bells, the sounds of the scooters zooming by, Neapolitan mothers in the surrounding houses shouting at their children, and of Paolino singing and selling produce through the microphone while passing the streets in his blue ape bursting with fruit and vegetables.

The Limonata Lounge is inspired by these memories and I’m recreating that place that resides inside of me through this site. This site is about all the things I love: Italy and its history, cooking, traveling and making things. I want to share these things with you and hope that they may inspire you to follow your gut feeling and do what you love and create the place that you want to be in.