Saturday, June 22, 2013

La Bella Vita- How to get an Italian Visa in 180 steps.

This post is meant to let you in to our Italian adventure. It's going to be long but it's ok, it's entertaining. How the move started...How we ended up in Florence. How we went about getting a work visa to live in Italy. 1,2,3,4567454064064, 180 steps to getting your visa. More like 180,0000000 steps...

If you know Mr. Scarpelli and I you know how happy we are all most of the time. We are two positive people that love love love life. We try to take the positive out of everything, Mr. Scarpelli more than me but I try...

Almost two years ago I came up with this insane plan for my job to move to Italy. Florence Italy. I had gone on a business trip that didn't almost happen then was back on then back off and then finally back on. The workplace was a negative one and the drama seemed to grow like mold in a damp dark stinky place. So the plane ticket was booked under my name and I was finally the one going to Florence for our work market. OMG I was going to Florence for work! Paid! BAHHHH I died. Moving didn't cross my mind once. My husband and I were set. We had our little condo, our family down the street, our kitties, our friends and our jobs that we commuted to an hour or so each way. We were living the dream in the San Fernando Valley. or the dream we wanted then...

The moment I got off the plane in Florence I knew I would move. I just felt it. I knew my husband and I would live in Italy. I can't explain it but I just knew. I told my husband we would be moving and he laughed it off. "Right babe...keep dreaming." I had a great work trip in Florence. Working in the gorgeous office on Via Dei Benci and walking through Florence. It was surreal. It was unreal. I didn't want to leave. Being in the office that week and working with the team I thought of ways I could get there and of course be beneficial to the company. A month or so later the design director came to LA and I asked her. I asked her if there was a teeny weeny possibility that I could work in her office. It was the most insane meeting. Well second to most insane. keep reading.

We met and I asked. I was shaking. "You want to move to Florence?" YES! yes, I do and I want your help and your advice and your guidance to make it possible. She said obviously if the owner thought it was a good idea then she did! WHAT?!!! Did I just hear an answer far from "you're crazy, no"!?! After that meeting it was 'go time'. My boss, the design director and my husband were the only people in the world who knew and it was time to plan. I drafted a job description with the help of these amazing people and put down all the reasons why it makes perfect sense to move your product development manager from LA to Italy. it made total sense...

About 2 months later I was as comfortable as I would ever be with the job description. It was time to ask the owner. I cannot begin to explain how nervous I was. I set up a meeting with his assistant and in typical owner of our company fashion he canceled like 10 times. NO JOKE. I was dying. Every day I couldn't eat or sleep..this is it. This is the day I am going to ask. nope, not today. Ughh it was draining! Well my excitement started to fade when I couldn't get my meeting to actually happen. Then the day came...I was not prepared or nervous and my phone rang. UGHH you're joking. "He's ready for you". WHAT? Nowww??? I haven't rehearsed 20 times in the mirror how I was going to start off. I haven't talked to B. Ugh now?! I haven't prepared myself mentally for this meeting.

This was it...

As I walked up the stairs I literally died inside. d i e d. and no one at the office knew. 

"Brandi-snap out of it. The worst he can say is no cause lord knows this is nuts. He can't take anything away from you. You are already living your 'no'. If it's a no, it's a no. and it will probably be a no but you will never know if you don't go in there and try."  boom. Sometimes the best advice is the advice we give ourselves. 

He clearly had no clue what I had to say. I have probably been in his office 3-4 times in 6 years so for me to schedule an appointment with him is not usual. "What's up B" he said. And then it was a blur. I have no idea how I started the convo. Couldn't tell you. I remember him saying "wait you want to move to Florence." yep, I do. "But have you thought about what you would do"? Yes, actually here is my job description and there it was...the moment it hit us both. He sat back and I tried to not throw up. We went through the job and talked about different possibilities. OMG was this real life? I felt like I had the biggest job interview of my life to date. I was literally trying to sell every reason why this was a great idea. and he was listening. He was asking questions and intrigued. He asked but what is the process of moving there? Well I did my research (or so I thought) and it sounded simple enough. The LA office needed to write a contract sponsoring me to work in the Italy office. No biggie. ha! little did we know...After what felt like the longest meeting of my life he said he needed to seriously think about this and he would let me know. I couldn't read him. but man, I felt on top of the world for asking. I felt amazing! Even if it was a no I was so proud that I asked. It was all me! and it felt exhilarating! 

T h r e e months later... longest 3 months everrrrr we had a follow up meeting scheduled. HOLY MOLY! I was dying. I walked in to his office trying not to cry or burst out reasons why he shouldn't say no and he said it. He said "I think this can be a positive thing for the company and for your career and I am going to give you the green light to move to Italy." ARE YOU FUCKING JOKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!$#*$&$%#@$(#@$@)!)!($&$@!!?!?!!!!!!!
I can't tell you what I said or what look I had on my face. I remember him saying "B you can move" and I felt like I was paralyzed. I felt like my whole body was asleep. HOLY SHIT We are moving to Italy for work! I did it! We did it! Is this real life?!

I literally left his office like a zombie and started balling. OMG my husband! I have to call my husband. I went downstairs to my desk and had an email from the design director in Florence saying "Heard you got a new job". Literally, died. I cried more. I ran outside and called my husband. I cried so hard and told him we were moving. I could feel his reaction through the phone. WHAT!? "Baby is this real? I'm so proud of you! You did it!" he's right. I did it! I was just told I could move to Italy for work because of the job description I put together with the help of my mentors! holy moly!

The next few months were a whirlwind. Everyone involved with getting my visa thought it would be an easy process. Write a letter, get a visa is what we all thought. wow were we dead wrong. It has almost been one year from the time we started working on the contract and we didn't even have our visas yet. The company had to write up a contract explaining why they needed me there and why they couldn't just hire an Italian. It's a difficult process and the Italians like to make everything difficult. The letters written about me boosted my ego though. We need Brandi because x,y,z. So nice. :)

There was one hurdle after another. The company I work for is too small, the paperwork isn't complete, she isn't qualified, the documents we need are missing. We went through so much bullshit and countless nights without sleep constantly checking my email to see if something came through. Husband and I ran around LA to get this signed, this apostilled, this copy...It was intense. We had an Italian rep doing all of our paperwork and in typical Italian fashion we would only hear from him when he felt like responding. It was so frustrating. Every email we got was saying "This week I will have an appointment with the immigration office." That week turned in to the next month and well the following year. It was awful. It became so stressful because we didn't have a departure date. We were the only ones who knew everything going on and everyone around us didn't understand. If you're moving, then move. You work for a large company, this should be easy. If only it was that easy...

We wanted to move so badly and yet had the biggest hurdle to jump. I was having an awful time at work and not to mention we rented our condo and moved in with my parents. We are so thankful for their help but it was rough after having your own nest for so long. And it was rough on them for having kids back in the house! One awful morning at work and I lost it. Imagine everyone at the office now knows I'm moving and they all treat me like I'm invisible. Umm hello, I still work here! It was rough. It was my first time in HR's office balling like a baby. I needed out of this situation so bad. And in the next 30 minutes our lives changed forever. I went from crying sad tears to crying happy tears in 3.5 minutes. I left HR's office and went to speak with the lawyer. She was on the phone and told me to come in. She was talking to an immigration lawyer and they told her I could travel to Italy NOW and stay for 3 months as a tourist. Within that 3 months my visa would be ready. WHAT?! The lawyer told me to book our tickets for for the following week. HOLY SHIT! This really is happening. I called Husband, we booked our flights and there it was. The moment we were waiting for.

Within one week we said our goodbyes, packed up our kitties and dropped them off. worst experience ever but we are just so thankful for the guy who loved our babies for a couple months. Brandon and I were on a flight and arriving in our new town. GAHHHHH!!!! Being back in Italy just felt so right. Our decision to move was a good one and we couldn't be happier! The next couple months went by so fast. We explored by foot, by bus, by plane. just amazing! can't get enough of this place! We finallllyyyy received the news we had been waiting for. Our Nulla Ostas are ready and approved by Florence immigration. Seriously unbelievable! It took one year to get this news! one.year.

After the news we headed back to LA one final time because of course we have to pick up our visas at the US Italian consulate. It was so nice to see our parents, family and friends. We were able to see almost everyone a couple times and it was perfect! We missed them all so much! We picked up our kitties and had a week of getting used to each other again. that was fun. ;)

Shopping in Italy can be extremely pricey. Chucks in the US are 40 bucks. In Italy they are 90 Euro! nuts right? So you can imagine B and I went a little crazy. Shoes, clothes, makeup, medicine, vitamins check. Oh and my sweet husband bought me an ipad. it's my new obsession. sure I'm behind the times a bit but my laptop was getting to heavy. my ipad rules. :}

OK, enough about the fun and games...Tuesday the 11th was our appointment at the consulate to apply for our visas. We didn't have the greatest experience at the consulate in the past so we were so nervous to go back. I was shaking when we were handing over the paperwork. We were extremely prepared and ready for anything but the lady said all was good and we should be able to pick them up on Friday. FRIDAY! (which was perfect because we had a flight back to Florence on Monday). Friday comes and Husband and I are so proud to walk in the Italian consulate and collect our visas. It was such an amazing feeling! One year of stress, calls not returned, emails unanswered, back and forth back and forth and finally they were in our hands. best feeling ever!!!!!!!!

So there it is pretty people! a teeny weeny glimpse in to the process. 180 steps of hell and joy to live in Florence for two years. (we'll see where the road takes us after that...)We arrived back in Florence on Tuesday and we are here to stay for a long while. I've been a slacking blogger but you can imagine everything insane that has been going on.  Oh and we love when the internet decides to stop working in our flat because...well, because it's Italy. She's on her own time schedule.

[sorry for the blurry photo! I was still shaking!]

If you read the whole post I just adore you! Please let me know if you have any helpful tips for 2 expats! We love to hear from you and don't hesitate to email me if you are in Italia!

Ciao tutti!


ralizabeth said...

I love that you took the time to write out ur entire experience. Thank you so much for sharing and I'm so glad it all worked out for you two!!! xoxo

Newmexicotoitaly said...

Welcome to Florence! We brought 2 cats here from U.S., so if you need any info on that part, just ask!

Mrs. Pancakes said...

This is just the best thing ever...write a book lady...the best adventure ever!!

Elle Sees said...

so glad it has all worked out. what a crazy story! i had no idea it was so much work and waiting!
i know all about the feeling that something is right. i'd never had a dog before, but when my friend called and said she rescued a dog, i just knew i was supposed to have him. no hesitation at all!

marie said...

i loved reading this. you guys really are inspiring, with your hard work and positivity. i love how you prepared and researched and took a leap in asking the big boss for the opportunity. you did the work and lined yourself up! so proud of you!!

TOI said...

I read all the post with great interest. I was in Italy {mainly in Campania} but i couldn't stop for too long in Florence because I had to catch the train connection to Vicenza, I was staying there for a night and I had to go back to see AOI, I would have loved to come visit you {hopefully next time}.

Enjoy every second of this adventure, the years truly fly, I can't believe we've been in Canada for over two years. Seems so foreign to come back to Europe, lol :)

Brandon said...

Now that we've accomplished the unthinkable, I can honestly say that I'd do it all over again!

emily said...

having been in touch with husby through this, i am SO SO SO glad youre finally past the ordeal! ive been meaning to send him an email but it's starting to look like i'll be visiting the end of november! (well, milan anyway). would love to hit florence and rome and maybe meet an italian man to marry. just kidding (kinda!) hahahaha sending you two all my love and cant wait to see you soon! XOXOXO

Jamie said...

LOVE you in the Vans!! Cute ;-)


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