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Local Government

Though the historical and political capital of Italy remains Rome, let’s not forget that infamous Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a Milanese and when he’s not in Rome being PM, he’s in the country’s “moral capital” running his multi-million euro media empire - and AC Milan football club.

There’s no shortage of political zeal in Milan, which is also home to the administrative offices of Umberto Bossi’s Lega Nord - Italy’s right wing party which advocates secession of the rich, industrialised north from the more provincial regions of central and southern Italy.

For the masochistic there are few areas that can give the same amount of pleasure as a trip to an administrative office in Italy. The amount of red tape in Italy has to be seen to be believed. You will need to fill in a form in triplicate just to get a parcel sent by the Post Office so having to get an actual piece of paperwork to get through official channels is probably not going to end up on your list of cherished memories.

The situations where you, as a wide eyed foreigner, might encounter local bureaucracy would be; if you ever have to deal with the police (not recommended unless absolutely unavoidable), applying for notice of marriage (commune), registering a vehicle or licence (provincial government), registering for healthcare (regional government) or applying for a visa to stay and work (permesso di soggiorno). Luckily for European citizens, including UK, the latter three are unnecessary.

If you don’t have an Italian speaking friend to help you through the process or think four hours spent in a queue would be too much of a threat to your sanity you might want to consider ending your own life. If that’s not practical you will simply have to bite the bullet and contact the relevant offices.

Word to the wise. Before entering any government building and presenting your lovely self to an unsmiling desk monkey it is worth ensuring you actually have a right to be in the country. As an EU citizen you can stay in Italy for as long as you like without needing a residence permit from the local police. Non EU citizens will need a visa obtained from their home country’s Italian embassy for stays of up to three months and a “Permesso di Soggiorno” (“Stay Permit”) to remain for longer than that, though the rules are very lax indeed.

If you like, you can apply for permanent residency in Italy and receive a “Carta di Soggiorno Cittadini” from the local council.

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