Once upon a time, in Life Before Covid, I used to travel to work in the centre of Rome every Monday, on a little train that pootled back and forwards every hour from our beloved Sabina, through Rome, and out to the international airport at Fiumicino.
Sometimes on a Monday, I was accompanied by dear friends, who had spent the weekend with us, and who were heading back to Belgium, or to Germany, or to the UK, after a fun filled weekend. We nursed our headaches (ok, hangovers), and made plans for our next jolly gathering. On other Mondays I filled my train time with lesson planning and homework marking. Sometimes I did my own Italian homework, or read a book, and sometimes I even wrote a blog post, which you might then have read on your own morning or evening commute.
Nowadays, I rarely seem to get a chance to write a blog post because:
a. I no longer sit on a train for an hour on my way to work. In fact, most of my teaching is conducted on Zoom, as we are all now “smartworking”
b. I often feel like nothing is happening in our world that is “blog worthy”, and finally because
c. I’m far too busy doing stuff like admin, learning Italian, and pruning olive trees to sit down for an hour and write a “non blog worthy” post.
How long ago that Life Before Covid seems. Here in Italy, a year has already passed since that night when Prime Minister Conte addressed the nation, and told us that we would be immediately commencing a national shut down. Back then, this concept was so alien that there was no word in the Italian language to describe it, and so an English word was Italianised, and the noun “lockdown” entered our vocabulary.
Since that night we’ve learnt a long list of words and acronyms: such as the aforementioned smartworking (working from home), coprifuoco (curfew), distanziamento sociale (social distancing), indossare la mascherina (wear a mask), zona rossa (red zone), DPCM (the legal structure by which the government is able to put various measures in place to keep us safe), DAD – didattica a distanza (how children learn when schools are closed) and most recently, campagna vaccinale – the cunning plan that will hopefully see us all vaccinated against that ghastly word – Covid.
Within this timeframe of course, we’ve Brexited (a new verb this time!). Brexiting means a whole new raft of bureaucracy, and even more new vocab for those of us living on mainland Europe, away from the island of our birth. We’ve actually become quite good at explaining that “Non siamo usciti dall’ Europa, ma solo dall’ UE” – we did not leave Europe, just the EU.
In preparation for becoming excommunitario (non EU citizens), we had already spent rather a lot of time in rather a lot of offices securing our status here. We became Resident in Italy (not at all the same thing as residing in Italy), changed our driving licences from UK ones to the Italian equivalent, and paid into the INPS – the social security system, so that we could continue to have access to healthcare. We spent the latter months of 2020 trying to obtain a special piece of paper from our comune attesting to the fact that we had done all of the above before Brexit, and thus benefited from WA Art 18.4, and therefore could continue residing as Residents in Italy beyond Brexit.
Having obtained that Precious Piece of Paper, we may now make an appointment at a different office, much further from home, to apply for a “voluntary” extra piece of bureaucracy, in the form of a “biometric tessera evidencing our WA Art 18.4 rights”. Hmmmm … I seem to have just used the words “voluntary” and “bureaucracy” in the same sentence ….
Ok. Buckle Up. It’s about to get Acronymy …
In order to upgrade from that Precious Piece of Paper to this even more Precious Piece of Plastic, we must / should / may wish to make an appointment to go to the Questura in Rieti. Attendance is by appointment only, due to Covid restrictions. To make this appointment we cannot telephone, fax, email, send a postcard, letter, or even a carrier pigeon. We must send a PEC email. Thankfully, I am able to send a PEC, as I obtained a SPID several years ago in order to register as a IAP. I therefore have a PEC account, and am able to send a PEC email.
I have no idea what the acronyms SPID and PEC are short for, but they are actually rather natty ideas.
A SPID is a sort of electronic means of identifying myself online, and a PEC is the email equivalent of a “signed for” letter in the mail. Clever, and ingenious. And in case you are wondering, I needed a SPID and a PEC because as I previously mentioned, I “wanted” to become a IAP – a particular type of farmer called an Imprenditore Agricolo Professionale. A IAP can sit in a nice comfy office, employing people to do their farming for them. The alternative would have been a ColDir, or Coltivatore Diretto. This latter classification of farmer is obligated to do the farming for themselves, and may not employ farmhands. I don’t know if a farming farmer must have a SPID or a PEC, but I do think that it is a good job that I am a trainee IAP rather than an actual ColDir, as it turns out that a SPID and a PEC are going to be vital for obtaining a Tessera Biometrica, aka the Precious Piece of Plastic, which we may or may not need, at some time in the future when Life After Covid commences.
Still with me? Good!
This week it is raining, which means that I can’t do farming, or indeed employ people to do my farming for me, as trees cannot be pruned in the rain.
Which means that I have time to start this latest round of bewildering bureaucracy.
Which means that I’m procrastinating.
Which means that I’m filling a blog post with words that did not even exist a year ago.
Which means that I’ve got a headache.
And if you’d read all of the above, you probably have too!