Consulate Journey

A week after UNR defeated UNLV for the eight straight time, we found ourselves on a flight to Los Angeles for our visa appointment at the Italian Consulate.

We were prepared. Or so we thought. We had not one, but two binders full of documents (in triplicate), a list from the consulate Web site of the documents required and enough passport photos to choke a hippo.

The evening before the appointment we landed at LAX, took a taxi to our hotel, arrived three hours early and received a nice upgrade to a suite. After a glance at a map realized that we were just a few blocks from where our sister Trina and her husband and daughter lived and gave Trina a call to let her know that we were in town.

She immediately asked if we were free that evening and said that when she was finished with an appointment that they would stop by our hotel to visit. We eagerly awaited her arrival, sort of . . . both of us were exhausted after a day of travel and fell asleep within minutes of sitting down, thankfully our afternoon respite didn’t last too long and we were both awake to greet our visitors a few hours later. Trina and her husband, Glenn, took us to dinner at Norm’s, a favorite of theirs and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Rarely do we get such great one-on-one time with family as most family events involve many more people, so we were both excited and pleased for their time and attention. After dinner they took us by the cottage they’ve rented in LA, which is absolutely adorable and Trina walked her sister around the quiet neighborhood where they live while the brothers-in-law chatted at the cottage.

Trina had offered to pick us up the following morning and to drop us off at the consulate for our appointment, saving us a great deal in cab fare. We were happy for her company and really enjoyed the afternoon when we finished at the consulate. Trina took us to the California Academy of Science (the new home of the Space Shuttle Endeavor) on the USC campus where we explored for hours all of the great exhibits, then she took us on the route the Endeavor traveled from LAX to it’s new home at the Academy of Science. We were both amazed and awed at the size of the Space Shuttle and the ingenuity it took to get it from one place to the other.

Our afternoon exploits helped us to forget our morning at the Italian Consulate.

After arriving an hour early and waiting in the small room with a very large window looking down at Avenue of the Stars, we were called promptly at our appointed time by Patricia Maroni, our intake counselor for a visa.

She quickly looked through the binder of our paperwork and asked where we got the list of documents. Stating that she hoped we hadn’t used the one from the Italian Immigration site as that is not the same list as the one for the Italian Consulate General in LA. We smiled and told her we had the list from the LA Consulate Web site, whew close call, because weeks earlier we had called the consulate and were told that the list was on their Web site. She smiled and said “Oh no, that is not the one to use. It is outdated, you should have called and asked for the right list from us, then you would have been prepared.”

There are no words to describe the swearing that was happening in our heads as we looked at Patricia incredulously and stated “Well, now we know better for next time.”

Patricia graciously gave us the super-secret, can’t get it till you get here in person, list of documents and as we eagerly read through the list to see if we had the additional documents in our “other” binder of documents. We had one of the three we were missing, our marriage license. The other missing documents were a letter from us to the Consulate General stating why we wanted to live in Italy – that has to be signed and notarized – and a letter from our banker stating our monthly income, account types and balances.

We asked Patricia if a bank statement would suffice as many of us in the U.S. don’t actually know our banker. She said “NO. It needs to be a letter from your banker and needs also to be signed by your banker.”

So after our lovely afternoon with Trina and our niece, Etta-Kimiyo, we found ourselves back at LAX waiting for our flight and reviewing the events of our visit to the consulate and making a list for the following Monday.

1) write a letter explaining why we want to live in Italy

2) find a notary so the Consulate General knows that our next door neighbor didn’t write our letter for us

3) find our who the hell our banker is and get them to write us a letter

We pick up the letter at 10 am today and will be visiting the notary this afternoon, followed by a trip to FedEx to send everything back to Patricia, including the thank you card for all her help during our recent visit.

Fingers crossed people, we are hoping to get a favorable reply and the visa stamp in our passports by Christmas so we can book our flights, get the dog certified for travel and move in early January.

Whew, almost there.

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