Australians are allowed to stay in Italy ( and other countries that are part of the Schengen agreement) for up to 90 days without having to apply for a visa. Check with your travel agent before you travel.
If you plan to stay in Italy for more than 90 days you will need a visa. There is a Consulate in Brisbane, which is where I went. Here are some suggestions to perhaps make this excercise not too traumatic. Please note that this not official advice – just my experience.
1. Obtain an application form from the Italian Consulate. The form can be downloaded on the internet at no cost.
2. You will need originals and photocopies of –
A. Return ticket
B. An address you will be staying at – in our case we had to produce proof of ownership of our house. You will need a letter from your Italian landlord.
C. Financial statements – to prove you can support yourself.
D. Travel Insurance for one year.
E. 2 passport size photos of yourself
Take your passport with you.
If you do not have originals and photocopies of everything you will be sent away to get them. Don’t expect pleasant or helpful service. Good luck.
PS – August 2010
I have just returned to the Italian Consulate office to obtain another visa. I followed my own advice and had everything I needed gathered together. I was at the counter for a matter of minutes, my request was handled promptly and cheerfully and I should receive my new visa in a few days – excellent!
You will need to make an appointment by email for the consulate. You may have to book quite a long way in advance. Do not leave it until just before you travel. You will need to try to book a couple of months in advance.
Permesso di Soggiorno
Once again, this is not official advice, just my experience.
It is possible to obtain a kit from the Post Office (not some of the smaller ones) and fill out the forms yourself. That can be tricky so I go to an office in Lucca where they download and fill out the forms for me. These offices are all over Italy. Italians go to them for help with pensions and official business. Ask a local to direct you to one in your town. If you are lucky you will get delightful, helpful people like the young women who look after me. There is no charge for this service but I usually take chocolates.
Once the form is filled out it will be put in an envelope in which you will also put…
A photocopy of every page of your passport, including the cover.
Proof of your address in Italy.
Proof that you can support yourself.
A copy of your airline ticket.
A copy of your insurance.
If you are renewing your Permesso you will also put in a copy of your last Permesso.
They will also need to give you a pay slip with the amount you have to pay for the Post Office. Apparently nobody at the Post Office knows the charges.
Once this is done go to a Tabacchi and buy a Marco di Bollo for a Permesso di Soggiorno. It is currently €16, but this may change.
Then go to the post office and go to the desk that looks after Permesso di Soggiorno. If you are lucky you will get a helpful person, but don’t count on that. He/she will check your paper work, get you to sign a few things, process your paperwork, stick the Bollo on the front and put your informataion back in the envelope.
You will then pay the fee for the Permesso and the Post Office charge and you will be given receipt for everything and a letter with the date of your appointement at the Questura. Do not lose this or you will be stuck.
On the nominated date go to the Questura with your receipt and originals of whatever was in the envelope along with 4 passport size photos. You will be given an appointment time. In my experience this means nothing. Go early and wait in line with all the others and hope it takes less than 4 hours.