shoes on the train

passport fun [rome/florence/bologna, italy]

shoes on the trainTrain to Rome. Wander off train. Find taxi station. Wait around till taxi conductor notices me. Get in. Hand driver the address. Attempt small talk with him. Get taken the long way, toured around by the taxi driver (the price decided beforehand). Find the location of the consulate. The consulate is closed – a sneaky constitutional Polish holiday I was apparently supposed to know about. Am strangely calm and logical.

Catch cab. Am on next train back to Florence, calm, knowing I’ll just go to Bologna the next day.

Catch a 630 am train to Bologna. Catch a cab. Tell driver the address. Panic momentarily when I don’t see a km/$ counter and consider that maybe I’ve finally done it and got myself kidnapped by an illegal taxi. Calm down when I see it is embedded into the rearview mirror. Fancy. Find the location of the consulate, but the consulate does not exist. There are other doors within the indoor courtyard but none of them are open, or what I need. Find a nun. Get directions (yes, in Italian) to the new address.

Catch a cab. Find the location of the consulate, but the consulate does not exist. This time there is no door, just a tunnel that leads to scaffolding and a construction site to where offices should be. Laugh hysterically actually looking up to the heavens to see if someone up there is playing a joke on me. There is no consulate seemingly in existence in Bologna.

My mind races with my options. Ask at the police station? Go back ‘home’? Keep looking around, but where?? I feel helpless but refuse to feel defeated. I resort to sitting on a sidewalk, take out my notebook, pen, phone.

Call the Bologna consulate. Busy signal.

Call the Bologna consulate. No answer.

Call the Bologna consulate. Busy signal.

Call the Rome consulate. No answer.

Call the Rome consulate. A lady rudely tells me she can’t help me, tells me the wrong address of the Bologna consulate, gives me two phone numbers for the Milano office (which rules over the Bologna office), saying one has the wrong amount of digits but should work.

Call the Milano consulate. The number doesn’t work.

Call the Milano consulate on the other number. A man kindly informs me that Bologna can’t help me anyway because it’s an honorary consulate. Motivation awakens in me. I have an action. I tell him I can be in Milano asap. He puts me through to a passport lady for more info. The lady kindly informs me that since my address is in Larciano, which is under Florence’s municipality, I have to apply at the Rome consulate anyway.

I am on the next train to Rome. Jump off train. Get to taxi station. Find taxi. Get in. Kindly bark address at driver. Am there in 10 minutes. The consulate is open. A large Polish but Italian-opera-singer looking man very kindly explains what I need to fill out to get both my temporary passport and my official one. Tells me not to worry.

The lineup is long. It is my turn. It is 10 minutes to closing. The lady rudely tells me it’s too late to request a temporary passport today.

 “But I was here since before 1:00…”

“Yes, but that’s already quite late.”

“But before I was in Bologna!”

“But there’s no consulate in Bologna.”

“I KNOW!!!”

 The lady obligingly tells me to pay the lady at the other counter quickly and come right back. I pay the lady at the other counter quickly and come right back.  The lady not so kindly informs me that my address in Larciano is not official, that I’ll need something official when I come back, that they need an official reason to be my consulate.

I am back outside, clutching my new temporary Italian Polish passport. The large Polish Italian looking man very kindly asks if I acquired my temporary passport. I tell him I did. He reminds me, smiling, that he told me not to worry. Walk a couple blocks. Catch a cab.

I am on the next train back to Florence.