Italy screws US tourists and adds to already astounding domestic bureaucratic clusterf*ck in same move

(Advanced apology to non-US citizens reading this post. This may not affect you. Or maybe it will. Or maybe you’re even more screwed. It’s too early to tell.)

I’ve just been forwarded the latest US Consular Information Sheet for Italy. It’s business as usual in the entry requirements section, at least for the first paragraph:

“A valid passport is required. Italian authorities may deny entry to travelers who attempt to enter without a valid passport. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens for tourist visits of up to 90 days.”

Well thank Buddha for that. Now I can plan that one month Tour con Lamborghini that I’ve always wanted to do. Awww yeaaaah. Fast cars, loose women and… Hold up, what’s that in the second paragraph?

“Under Italian law, tourists who plan to stay more than eight business days(!!) are required to obtain a permesso di soggiorno (permit of stay) within eight business days of their arrival. As of December 11, 2006, tourists may request an application “kit” for the permesso di soggiorno from one of 14,000 national post offices (Poste Italiane). The kit must then be returned to one of 5,332 designated Post Office acceptance locations. Tourists will have to complete a form, provide a complete photocopy of their passport, present sufficient proof of their means of financial support, submit photographs, a photocopy of their insurance policy, photocopy proof of their return to the United States, and pay a fee. It is important that applicants keep a copy of the receipt issued by the Post Office. Failure to obtain the permit of stay within eight days is punishable by fine.”

Are you shitting me?? How many US tourists go to Italy for more than eight business days each year? It’s gotta be at least half a million. And now Italy, a country that is already staggering under mountains of pointless bureaucracy and has a postal system that only successfully delivers incoming mail 50% of the time (give or take 30%), is introducing a half million extra sizable packets of paper into the system?

Jumping this new hoop, after standing in lines at Kinkos (or whatever), the train station photo booth and the post office, is a good half-day effort all told. So let’s say you arrive on a Tuesday and leave the following Friday, which is nine business days (11 actual days – a scandalously long holiday by American standards, incidentally), you’re gonna have to piss away approximately 4.5% of your holiday attending to this new requirement.

Confused about that December 11th, 2006 date? Me too. I’ve spent about 150 business days in Italy since that date and no one has mentioned anything about a permesso di soggiorno to me.

And how many photos do they want? Two? Six? What kind of ‘proof of means of financial support’? A pay stub? A wad of 100s? My investment portfolio? And how much is this fee exactly? Will this cause mass confusion, spirit-sapping long lines, further ineptitude and organized derision from over-worked civil servants (that 35 hour work week is a real bitch, lemme tell ya) and mass outbursts from tourists that are already reeling from the maddening trains, unreliable planes and tenuous infrastructure? Maybe.

Fortunately for us “Additional information may be obtained from an Italian immigration website via Internet at: Very considerate, except they didn’t bother to translate any of it into English.

Nice move boys. The de-evolution of Italy continues.