Round one got off to a good start for Tali. Armed with a one year working-holiday visa and sauntering through customs with a smile on her face, things were looking good. Somewhat nervous about going to a country she’d never visited before but had decided to live in for a year, and a bit sad that it wasn’t Spain, she was unphased by the chaos upon arrival in the Eternal City. “Let la bella vita begin,” she said.
Rome tried a couple of early punches; overpriced food, unbearable heat between 11am and 5pm and just too many tourists everywhere. But Tali was strong, it looked like this wouldn’t stop her and it would be an easy win. She was ambling through the streets of Rome, being surprised by beautiful sights left, right and centre. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Circo Massimo, Piazza Venezia, Piazza della Repubblica, the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Even just the age of everything in the centre of the city was awe-inspiring. Although difficult to switch from Spanish to Italian, she constantly put her two years of studying this beautiful language into use.
But Rome watched as Tali enjoyed herself, preparing to hit her with its biggest strength – bureaucracy. Tali knew it would be coming, but was utterly unprepared for the difficulties it would involve. Unlike most tourists to Italy, Tali was required to get a Permesso di Soggiorno (Permission to Stay) because her stay would exceed 3 months. First Rome hit her with the wrong instructions – go to the Questura (local Police office). After two hours waiting she was told to go to the local post office. Where she was redirected to the main post office. After more waiting she collected an A4 envelope containing booklets of forms to fill in.
Almost €100 later and 8 hours of queueing, filling in forms, going to different offices, more queueing and making different photocopies, she finally got a date and time to visit the Immigration Questura. Not to get the Permesso di Soggiorno though, just to give finger prints. The final kick in the stomach? It was in three months time and it would be another three months after that before she could pick up her Permesso di Soggiorno from the Questura. ARGHHHH! She screamed in anger at the whole process, knowing how much more walking, waiting, and form filling this would entail. But it was too late, she knew Rome had beaten her.
Tali tried to spend two final days enjoying the city, going off the beaten track to visit suburbs where real Romans live, but she just couldn’t recover. Not even trying so many different and amazing flavours of gelato could get her back with a chance to win. At the end of the week she was happy to get on a plane, happy to say goodbye to Rome. But before she did leave, Tali looked Rome in the face and said, “I’ll be seeing you again soon for Round 2 Rome, and this time I will not lose.”
Final result: Rome 1 – Tali 0