I don’t know who used to say that we were moving towards a paperless society. I don’t even know if they still say it, considering the amount of paper still swirling around us.
But whoever said it first obviously hadn’t ever moved to a foreign country. Scratch that. That person had never tried moving to Italy as a foreigner. The paperwork that we have accumulated! I have read that Italians don’t have the fullest of trust in the internet and online payment systems, meaning that most things are done manually in person. And we have the paper mountain to prove it.
Last month I gave up on trying to pretend that I didn’t need my own filing system, and bought one of those filo-fax folders that bellows open like an accordion. Matt already has a couple of his own, but I had been trying to get by with a zip lock bag and a small plastic folder. That kind of flippant attitude to important pieces of paper was only going to get me in trouble in the end, so I have caved.
My newest acquisition to the paper mountain is an expensive piece of paper to say I am a resident in Rovereto, a big upgrade from the previous (much outdated) (free) piece of paper that said I would be a tourist in Italy for three months, and possibly to be semi-replaced if I decide to obtain an identity card. In a few months I’m also going to try add another piece of paper to say I am covered by the National health system. These are on top of other pieces of paper confirming some step of the application process to acquire a tax code, a bank account, an eftpos card, a debit card (and every ensuring deposit made into this account, that I was too nervous to throw away), registration with the national pension scheme, a place to live, internet, gas/water/rubbish, a cellphone network, plus who knows what else.
There are so many bits of paper swirling around that confirm our presence in the country and our access to various services. Matt had to go through the tricky process of obtaining a permesso di soggiorno (a stay permit), meaning his paper mountain is more numerous and more important than my own. One of Matt’s main arguments for extending our stay to a third year is that the process to dismantle what we have created, to tread backwards through the bureaucracy to reverse our presence in the country is going to be difficult. And, considering the efforts put into creating our paper mountain, wouldn’t it just be easier to maintain it for an extra year?