Since I already went over how to get a Dichiarazione di Valore, let me explain that I learned all this the hard way. In fact, for the most part I felt like this during the entire process:
Unfortunately, fist shaking will get you nowhere… not that I was actually getting anywhere most of the time. Obtaining a Dichiarazione di Valore began to feel like a mythical quest. I was obsessed. It seemed that every time I managed to jump through one hoop, they would produce a smaller and more obscure hoop to deal with. Luckily, I was able to become a professional hoop jumper.
Here is the frustrating way to apply for graduate school in Italy:
Step 1: Check with the graduate school and learn that as a foreign applicant, you need some silly form to verify that you really did complete your undergraduate degree.
Step 2: Check the Italian consulate website and learn that all you need is your “original official transcript.”
Step 3: Order official transcripts from UCLA and get some extra, “just in case.”
Step 4: Wait patiently outside the consulate doors at 8:55 am because they open at 9. Look totally silly when people start waltzing in past you and realize that the consulate secretly opens early every day. Except on Thursdays. The consulate is closed on Thursday, obviously.
Step 5: Ask on the front desk and be told to wait for “the lady from the education department.” When she arrives, proudly display your official unopened college transcripts and explain that you need a dichiarazione di valore. Keep your spirits up when she tells you “No. This is not what we consider official. They must sign it. If they tell you they cannot sign it, then that is your problem. It must be signed. Then you must go to the city and then you must go to the state. Ok? Also, it must be translated into Italian. See you soon!”
Step 6: Find a translator online and scan them copies of your transcript to work from.
Step 7: Order more copies of transcripts from college and this time request that they be signed and notarized.
Step 8: Call the city and confuse an employee. Quickly realize that the woman at the consulate must have meant “county” not “city,” and then call the County Clerk.
Step 9: Drive 35 miles in Los Angeles traffic to the County Clerk’s office. You’ll get the form you need fairly painlessly, minus the traffic.
Step 10: Drive 15 miles in Los Angeles traffic to the Secretary of State’s office downtown. You’ll get the form you need moderately painlessly. The Secretary of States office can have a rather long wait, but it will all be worth it when you emerge with your shiny gold sealed Apostille.
Step 11: Check the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Italian consulate website to ensure that you are getting everything right. Then, give up entirely on Italian consulate websites because they are decidedly lacking in information. (See below)
Step 12: Return triumphantly to the Italian consulate and expertly request to speak with “the lady in the education office.” Present her with your now truly official transcript- signed, notarized, verified by the county and approved by the Secretary of State PLUS the transcript translated into Italian. HA! Nothing is impossible.
Step 13: Walk out dejected when she tells you: “This is good! Now do the same with your diploma.”
Step 14: At least have the foresight to ask “Ooooook. Is there anything else I also need to bring when I come back with the Apostille diploma and transcript?” Politely argue with her when she says to bring your entire application back. “Even my letters of reference?!” “Even you letters of reference. Everything.”
Step 15: Repeat Steps 7-12 with the diploma. Yay for traffic.
Step 16: Frantically write your essay, figure out how to format a CV, and call in every favor you can to get your letters of recommendation done ASAP.
Step 17: Check the Italian translation of your diploma the night before going to the consulate and notice that your name is spelled wrong. Of course it is.
Step 18: Remind yourself that you will laugh about this one day, make some coffee, and stay up re-translating the damn diploma yourself.
Step 19: MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING.
Step 20: Return to the consulate yet again with every piece of paper ever associated with you.
Step 21: The consulate will accept it! And then ask you where your prepaid envelope is.
Step 22: Drat.
Step 23: Go to FedEx and open an account. Fill out an International Waybill with your new account information to assume all charges for the package when and if the consulate should ever actually place it in the mail.
Step 24: Try to drop off the prepaid envelope.
Step 25: Find that the office is closed on a Wednesday because it is a holiday in Italy.
Step 26: Successfully drop off the prepaid envelope on Friday, because everyone knows that the consulate is always closed on Thursday.
Step 27: Celebrate with some mother-effing-gelato, because wtf was that?!