The Italian Almanac

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INPS workers

Alive and Kicking

An Italian woman has managed to prove her existence in a year-long battle with Italian bureaucracy after the death of a namesake. Maria Giuliani, 74, received an official apology from pension agency INPS Tuesday after it put her back in its databank. "But they only did it because the local media got hold of my case," Giuliani said.

The woman was deprived of her pension rights and wiped off municipal and health computers when another Maria Giuliani died in January 2006. "The first I heard about it was the following March when I went for a check-up". "My GP fell back into his chair and said, 'But you're dead!'. 'No, I'm alive and kicking and I want to be examined,' I said. But he said he couldn't do it because officially I no longer existed".

Another INPS branch, meanwhile, woke up to the mistake and started paying out her pension again. "But then the main office had the cheek to ask for that money back, with interest". The only good thing about the affair, Giuliani said, was that "I got to play dead and send my husband and daughter to do all the standing in line for me".

Despite the apology, the feisty pensioner still can't quite forgive Italian officialdom. Before she signed the certificate declaring herself alive, she told reporters, "they actually warned me not to make false statements. All you can do is have a good laugh about it, I suppose".