From the Italians. So, it turns out, I don't have to go to Miami in person to get a Schengen tourist visa. There's an honorary consul in Charleston. I'm meeting him bright and early Monday. He looks over my papers, verifies my ID, and then I can overnight the package down to Miami. And this isn't new. Apparently, they've had this for the past six years. So why the heck didn't anyone tell this to me yet?
[I'm attributing this efficiency and compassion to the fact that the Italian prime minister is the Jesus Christ of politics. It's just as well that he gave up sex till after the April elections too!]
Anway, it would be too efficient, of course for things to be completely straightforward. The copy of Paolo's Italian residence permit (he's my official host) has to be mailed. It cannot be faxed. So that means €€ to DHL it over the pond ... Still, going to Charleston for a morning is a lot better than finding a flight, getting a hotel and renting car to get to the consulate in Miami.
Now, the larger question is, why on earth do they need an honorary consul to verify my ID just so that I can send my papers down to Miami anyway? The Dutch and the Germans take applications by mail in Atlanta. I tell you --- questi Italiani sono pazzi. I think they take tips from the Indian babus.