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*These 6AM days got the best of me yesterday and I passed out before finishing this blog yesterday*

A few more hours at the immigration office this morning and I officially have an appointment to renew my permesso. The police were different people, and grumpier. We waited outside, then inside, and once at the window, I tried to understand the man talking to me in rapid Italian through a pane of glass, who wasn’t very helpful and denied that his colleagues would have told me to return again a second time, (No, impossible),  and then still had to get confirmation of things on my own with the grumpy people at the door before there was any success. But it’s done.

After, I biked straight through town through morning traffic, through to Piazza Annunziata, and stepped into another world. One of the language schools, the one that administered the language test, is right off the piazza. I had taken the citizenship language test in July – when I was home I had gotten the call that I had passed, but now I needed to pick up my certificate so I could scan it into my citizenship application.

There was red carpet inside, and a printing press in the center of the room, and no one telling me to VAI IN FILA! it was as silent as a chapel – because it was one, a few hundred years ago. The walls were completely frescoed with what seemed to be the signs of the cross. Jesus looked down in the silence along with seemingly hundreds of other painted characters, all tumbling through the works of art full of deep reds and blues and greens and yellows.

When I entered the next room, a painted terracotta alter was embedded at the far end of the room, an older man sat in one of the two chairs placed below it. I don’t know what he was waiting for, occasionally he’d cough into the silence and it’d echo in the old cloister. The woman behind the modern wooden desk was on the phone when I walked in, and she apologized to me for keeping me waiting, having no idea that no one apologized to me for waiting for a few hours just on the other side of town.

She found my certificate and handed it to me with a plastic sleeve to protect it in. I held it up to my chest in two hands and felt like a kid with a kindergarten diploma, and just as proud. Out of all the certificates I’ve received in my life, this one was probably one of the most important. It’s officially proven I can speak another language – and that was a goal I used to write down in my journals even twenty years ago.

I thanked the woman and walked out through the frescoes on the red carpet. “Auguri!” she called out after me, “Congratulations!”

As I stepped out into the sun again, crossed the piazza and headed up onto the rooftops to get a well-deserved cappucino in view of the Duomo, the stress of the immigration office melted away, and Florence cradled me again in it’s beauty, and all those hours waiting in line were worth it.

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