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I am trying to apply for an elective residency visa for Italy. My visit to the Italian consulate yesterday was encouraging – almost all of my paperwork is in order – but one item stopped me short: The clerk said I needed proof of address in Italy for the entire year I'm applying for.

(I have already booked an apartment for the first month of my stay and had planned to find longer-term accommodation once I arrived in-country.)

Adding to my trouble, the clerk said that even if I had a rental contract in hand for a private apartment, I would also need to provide a notarized, original copy (in other words, not faxed or emailed) of the property title to prove that the landlord actually owned the place they were renting me.

What's the easiest and quickest way to find long-term accommodation in Italy while I'm in the US? Does anyone know of a long-stay hotel or executive residence (anywhere) in Italy that could send me a contract to fulfill this paperwork requirement? (I believe I won't need the notarized title of a commercial residence as long as I receive the lease on their letterhead.)

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I think the clerk asked you something that is unnecessary. Take a look in this document from the Consulate of Philadelphia. Instead here it only mentions Availability of adequate lodging. In any case, the most serious document I could (difficulty) found is the law ([in italian]). It says for elective residence (I translate):

To this end (getting the residence), the foreigner shall provide adequate and documented warranties on the availability of a lodging to choose as a residence, and of ample autonomous economical resources, stable and regular, of which it could be reasonable to suppose their continuity in the future. Such resources, in any case not lower than the triple of the annual amount detailed on the table A [...] should come from being the titular of conspicuous rents (e.g. pensions), from the ownership of real estate, from being the titular of stable economical-commercial activities or by other sources different than subordinated work.

So, I think that what you offered to the clerk is adequate, but maybe he doesn't (what he asked you is totally unreasonable anyways). Answering to your question, I think is pretty much impossible to get a rent contract from Italy in the conditions you require.

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