Interview with Laurie in Torino
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City? Torino, Piemonte
Date of Interview? July 30, 2005
Let us know a little about yourself?
I am a native San Franciscan in my mid-40's, living in Torino, married to an Italian. My husband has a 25 year old son. I've worked in opera all my life (stage director); occasionally commute to New York for work.
Why did you decide to move to Italy?
I'd been coming to Torino for years, to visit my godmother who is Piemontese. Serendipitously, I got a job in Torino, and met my husband, who also works in the theatre here. After many months of correspondence, we fell in love. My career allows me to live pretty much anywhere, and since my husband does not speak english, the move seemed logical.
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here?
I spent a great deal of time before we married commuting back and forth between Torino and New York, always as a tourist (without a visa), and never staying for more than 90 days. Eventually, when we married, I got my permesso di soggiorno per motivi familiari, (literally the day after our wedding!) and became an official resident of Torino. Now I am working on assembling all of my documents for citizenship....which has been quite a chore! I'm waiting to have my birth certificate apostilled by the state of California. It may be denied, as the B.C. is only a certified copy, in which case I have to go through the process of applying for another one, re-translating it, and re-doing the asseverazione, which is an affidavit required by Italy to confirm the translation.
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them?
The permesso di soggiorno was no problem, other than long lines, and some discomfort at observing the way stracommunitari, especially people of colour, are treated here. Having grown up in S.F, I'd spent much of my life blithely unaware of "isms and phobias", which are very much alive and kicking here in northern Italy. I guess coming here has been a bit of a political wake up call for me. As for citizenship, see question 4!! It was most frustrating figuring out the asseverazione process, and what procedures need to be followed to assemble all the correct documents. I wish I had found this site just 2-3 weeks earlier; it would have saved me some very difficult moments. Even though I speak excellent italian, it always helps to swallow my instinctive feminism (and pride) and bring my husband along - he is much better at dealing with the bureaucracy, never loses his patience, has much better "sportello" comportment...as in those long strings of apologetic compliments and thank yous and "molto gentiles" that rub me the wrong way but are absolutely necessary in bureaucratic situations here.
How long have you been here? about 3 years
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
I consider myself lucky in that before moving to Torino I already had a sort of support system in place here. Even so, there are so many things that work differently - it is often frustrating. People up here are often very reserved (OK, unfriendly) and private, and I have had to really go the extra mile to "insert" myself into my neighborhood. As Americans, we tend to smile easily, and I often find mine met by a stony stare. It's taken persistence. I find the formality and artificiality up here alienating, but then so does my husband, who has lived in this region almost all his life. It might be a much easier and different sort of transition further South.
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap ?
To take it easy, and take it easy on myself if I don't get everything on my list checked off every day. And not to take anti-American sentiment personally. As my husband says, "they KNOW you're not George Bush"! This is one I still work on every day.....
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over?
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
I miss my good friends, although fortunately lots of them have come to visit, and phone cards make talking easy! It's harder to make friends here than I thought.
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
I have become more tranquil, and have learned to love the sun and the sea, and to savour and take more time for simple, everyday moments. I have also begun to be more politically aware. I hope this is a continuing process.
Do you think that you will stay forever? Yes!