Sailing The Dream
Italy, Trieste- checking in and out
Coming to Trieste had never been on the cards if it wasn’t for the chance of visiting our family and at the same time having parcels delivered to their house making our life easier when it came to ordering things like the new solar panels.
Retrospectively, it was the funniest check-in and out situation, we have experienced in Europe, except maybe when we were given the local version of 112 or 911 number in the Balearics to find where immigration office was as if that phone number was just an information hotline and not the emergency hotline.
The town of Trieste and the surrounding countryside simply amazing, the marinas are ridiculously expensive (we were quoted double the price of anywhere else in Italy), there are no protected anchorages near the city and all in all it’s quite inaccessible by boat unless through a marina. But still, a positive experience if seen the right way.
We arrived just a few hours after having checked out of Croatia at the port of Umag. And the first concern was to find a place to dock for the necessary check-in procedures, we had not found on the charts any suitable spot to anchor even if temporarily so decided to call the Coast Guard to see if they had an arrival dock or a Banchina di Transito. Even from the water, we could identify several areas of the town wall that were used as docking spots most likely run by the Ormeggiatori (or as we call them The Little Mafia).
The lady officer that answer the VHF radio call seemed clueless to be fact that Trieste is a port of entry and with such confusing conversation, we decided to move on and head to the out of town anchorage area beyond the commercial refinery area, close to the Muggia township, before the sun started to drop and worry with the formalities the following day.
The following day John’s brother in law came and picked us up by car to go visit the family and assist us with finding the check-in place.
A few calls to some local friends of his and we were directed to a huge building in the middle of town, with massive columns in the facade and a very official-looking with lots of people going in and out looking quite busy.
I pointed out that it looked too good to be true but we were assured this was the place. I also pointed out that besides the people that looked like they worked in the building all other people looked a bit out of place, gathering in groups very much like the unemployment centre waiting lines.
When we got in an officer pointed us to a machine to get a ticket and pointed to a huge waiting area.
That to me sounded very wrong. We had never waited with so many other people or taken a ticket to get our passports stamped...
As I looked around I notice more and more the people waiting like us, they all looked from the same ethnic group (not being racist here but in Trieste, the feeling is that everyone is very pale and blond and these people were all very dark bronze like the south Europeans or even North Africans).
Right there and then I decided we were wasting our time. We were in the wrong place, so I got up and went to an out-of-service counter to ask the officer if we were in the right place.
The conversation that followed was hilarious...
His English was limited but understandable, Johns brother in law decided to help by speaking in Italian.
The conversation went on with him saying his brother and law and girlfriend (pointing at us) had arrived by boat and needed to stamp the passport into Schengen, to which the officer replied that we had to wait for our turn, then make the interview appointment and bring ID photos, the interview would be in around 5-7 days.
Johns brother in law thought all that normal but the alarm bells rang even louder in my head.
That made no sense. So I decided to try and explain in English and ask John’s brother in law to explain in Italian exactly what I was saying not what he thought was normal.
So I started my very basic story:
Me: "Me, and my boyfriend came to Italy by boat"
Officer: "Yes, understand, by boat. Need appointment for papers"
(that was not what I expected as an answer so tried again because by now I had started to think that due to the huge influx of refugees Italy was experiencing at that time this was where their paperwork was dealt with)
Me: "We came in our boat, a boat like the ones you have there in the marina. You see I have registration papers. Australian boat. We have been to Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia and now Italy again... we need to stamp the passport like when we arrive at the airport from Australia."
And then he started talking in Italian at the speed of light with Johns brother in law and laughing lots. Then called another colleague and they laughed lots and then asked to see our papers, then got on the phone a couple of times and then turned to us and said in English: "You, here wrong place, here refugees, illegals. Not you."
Brilliant conclusion, I had pointed that out even before entering... ta-dah
Anyway, he said exactly where we needed to go but it was almost lunchtime so better go there in the afternoon, don’t worry we called saying you are going there today.
Now that sounded very much what we have experienced in other parts of Italy, so we went for lunch.
Later that afternoon John went to the cruising terminal to stamp the passport.
Of course, passing through the guarded gate at a time when there isn’t any ferry/cruiser scheduled granted another explanation to a clueless guard but after that was overcome it was super fast and as usual.
While at the cruising terminal the officer there told John there was a much easier place for us to stamp the passport on check out and closer to where we were anchored so with the assistance of Johns brother in law we confirmed the address and that possibility is in the township of Muggia.
Because we were planning to stay in our bizarre anchorage spot the entire time there and then depart Italy again we decided not to bother with the Costituto*, and carried out with our plans of getting our spare parts etc. and explore a bit of the surrounding countryside.
On departure day things went super smoothly. We dinghied to the Muggia town harbour, tied the dinghy and walked to the address given to us at the cruising terminal.
We rang the doorbell explained what we were there for and got told to wait a few minutes. All very normal. Then the immigration officer came, checked the passports, stamped us out and wished us a pleasant trip.
If only we had known it would be this easier in Muggia we had not wasted time trying to check in in Trieste!
*Costituto- Arrival document issue to non-Schenghen flagged vessels in Italian waters
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community. In this post you can find information regarding check in and out procedures with location for the Coast Guard, Immigration in Muggia and Immigration in Trieste