My Authors
Read all threads
I read threads and tweets about the burden imposed on Italy by austerity and the “refreshing” perspective of those who want more intervention of the state in the Italian economy, and I shudder. 1/n
Here is some “fun,” first-hand experience with how the state works in Italy. 2/n
Last summer, when I was in Italy with my family, our Italian car needed to undergo an inspection to verify that it was in good conditions. 3/n
No big deal, right? My experience with car inspections in the U.S. has been very easy: drive to an authorized station, show my driver license, get car inspected, sticker is placed on the windshield, done. 4/n
Ha! The illusion! The mechanic in Italy tells me that he cannot do the inspection without me bringing the original ownership title document with me—I had only a photocopy in the car. 5/n
Seriously? In this day and age you need the frigging original piece of paper? 6/n
I know I should have had it in the car, but the photocopy had never been a problem even when I was pulled over by the Carabinieri for routine checks that can happen quite normally on Italian roads. 7/n
In fact, it was the Carabinieri who had told me at the end of my 2018 Italian stay that I should get the car inspected first thing when I returned in 2019. 8/n
Anyway, I spend a chunk of time digging through folders of documents, drawers, and assorted furniture in our Italian home, trying to find the darn original document. No luck. 9/n
So I think, maybe I took it with me to the Seattle and left it there. I email the grad student who is living in our Seattle home for the summer and I ask him if he can check some folders and FedEx the document to me if he finds it. 10/n
He thinks he has found it and sends the doc by FedEx. Cool! Just a matter of waiting for the thing to arrive. We cannot use our car because it needs the inspection, but wonderful friends let us borrow one of their cars for the driving we need to do. 11/n
Sadly though, when the FedEx envelope arrives, I realize that my student had only found a color copy of the darn document, not the original we need. 12/n
Alright, I call the province’s “DMV” office, and the person I talk to tells me: 13/n
“Go to the Carabinieri to report that your original document is missing. They will send the request for a replacement to Rome, and they will give you a temporary document that you can use to drive to this DMV office and get the car inspected here.” 14/n
So, I go to the local Carabinieri station, where I end up spending a couple of hours. A very nice officer takes my declaration and, with help from another officer, prepares both the documentation to be sent to Rome and the temp document for me. 15/n
Armed with that temp document, my wife and I drive to the provincial DMV headquarters to get our car inspected. We wait patiently in line for about 45 minutes, and then we are told that… 16/n
“Nooo! You should not have gone to the Carabinieri! You should have come directly here to request the replacement document and then we would give you the appointment for the inspection once you have the document. 17/n
It is late July now, everything is slow, and this may take several weeks.”

Me: “But, but, but… I did what I was told by a colleague of yours on the phone! This now looks like we may not be able to drive our car until it’s basically time to return to the States!” 18/n
He: “Alright, let me call upstairs and see if my superior can help you.”

After the phone call: “You should go upstairs to Dr. X’s office so you can explain the situation to him.” 19/n
So, K and I go upstairs, we meet Dr. X, and he tells us: “You should return to that Carabinieri station. If they haven’t already sent the documents to Rome, ask them to not send them. If they can do that, you can come back here and we can help you here.” 20/n
Ok. Drive back to our village, go to the Carabinieri station again, meet again the officer who had helped me, spend another hour or so there. Finally, he can verify that the documentation has not been sent to Rome yet. 21/n
Fantastic! On the next day, I return to the provincial DMV headquarter with K (using our friends’ car) to request the replacement document there. 22/n
We go to Dr. X’s office, but he is not around. We ask where we can find him, and we are told “Go to Mr. Y’s office. Perhaps he can help you with this matter.” 23/n
So we go to Mr. Y’s office. As we sit in front of our desk, he is cutting and pasting documents: literally cutting and pasting: scissors and a stick of glue. (My wife later asked me: “Did I really see him using scissors and glue to produce documents?”) 24/n
Anyway, meeting Mr. Y turns out to be our luck: He figures out from my last name that I come from a certain village. He comes from one of the villages right across the small river at the bottom of the valley. 25/n
Bitter rivals in most circumstances—heck, I remember some very tense situations with kids from that village when I was a teen. 😄 26/n
But the rivalries of youth are set aside, and Mr. Y takes us under his wing: We fill together the forms that need to be filled and we go together downstairs where we need to fill another form 27/n
and he needs to convince a lady working at the counter to stay some extra minutes so everything can be done. We do this step, but we also need to make a payment that cannot be made at the DMV. 28/n
The nearest place to make the payment is a “Tabacchi” cafe nearby. We (including Mr. Y) go there and… the only means of payment they accept for that massive transaction of about 10 euros is an Italian national health service card, which—of course—we do not have. 29/n
Alright, back into the DMV building. Mr Y. begs the lady at the counter to stay a bit longer—it’s almost noon!—while we rush to the local post office, the only place where we could make the payment using cash or credit card. 30/n
We have never gone to this post office but, miraculously, we get there without getting lost. Only we do not get *really* there: the weekly local “farmers’ market” is happening. So we have to park a couple hundred yards away. 31/n
Rush to the post office, make the payment. Can that go smoothly? Of course not. There’s a glitch and the lady needs to reboot the darn machine that records the payment before the transaction is finally successful. 32/n
As we walk back to our friends’ car, I tell K: “Let’s not walk under the vases hanging from that balcony. There’s probability 99.99% they’ll fall on our heads if we do.” 33/n
Anyway, back at the DMV office with the proof of the payment. The request for the replacement document can finally be filed. Mr. Y tells us he’ll talk to Dr. X and make sure it is processed quickly. 34/n
A few days later he calls us to tell us it is ready. We can return to the DMV (always in our friends’ car), pick up the document, and—lo and behold—we are told that, with that document, we can actually get the car inspected at any authorized service station near home. 35/n
The inspection gets done the next day and we can finally start using our car. 36/n
I estimate that between my time, the grad student’s time, the Carabinieri’s time, Mr. X’s time, Mr. Y’s time, and other people’s time, approximately 45 hours over two weeks or so were used to deal with a problem that should not exist in this day and age. 37/n
In the conversations with Mr. Y, he commented many times on how every Italian government over the decades only made things more and more complicated, always adding layers, always adding documents, always adding steps—hence scissors and glue. 38/n
Yes, I shouldn't have lost the darn piece of paper to begin with and I sure as hell won’t lose the replacement. But… seriously? Italy needs more state in the economy? Give me a frigging break. Italy certainly does not need more of the state it has been getting for decades. 39/n
We must worry about having a decently functioning state long before we get more state.

And I say this as an economist who believes in the important positive role that state intervention can have in the economy. 40/n
PS: I will never again complain about DMVs in the States. n/n
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Keep Current with Fabio Ghironi

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!