Practically every secretary in America is a notary public, and it sure don’t seem like they do much. Well, in Italy, that is not the case. Pietro has just completed the test to become a notary in Italy, and I spoke to him.
Where are you from? Born and raised in Rome, in Parioli.
Which was the last restaurant you frequented? It’s in Genzano, a small village on the Appian way, not far outside of Rome.
Which was the last bar/club you frequented? Circolo degli Artisti: it’s comfortable and you could talk to people face-to-face.
Where and what did you study? After finishing high school (the very one where il Duce sent his children), I signed up for Giurisprudenza (Law), since I had no other ideas, and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Everyone said that the law department at Rome’s ‘Sapienza’ was very difficult, so I ended up at ‘Roma Tre.’ Like the ‘Sapienza,’ it is a public university, but much easier and relaxed.
How long did it take you to finish? Despite everything, I finished in 6 years, rather than the 4 I had originally planned on. I wasn’t very fascinated by my studies, and I lost time with other activities…
What was the topic of your thesis? I have always been interested in history, and for that reason I asked a history professor of ‘Medieval and Modern Law’ to work with me. My thesis was on Carta de Logu, an ancient Sardinian law, enacted in the late 13th century. This law became a symbol of the struggle for Sardinian independence. It was sentimental for me, because my family is Sardinian.
Did you start to work as soon as you graduated? Once I finished with university, I worked here and there, in various law firms, but the work was depressing. For about a year, I even worked with my dad, a film producer. I liked the work but it wasn’t very satisfying.
How did you decide to switch from being a lawyer to a notary? Slowly but surely, through my indecision, I emerged with my first real life decision: to become a notary. I had just turned 27 when I decided, and to be honest, the idea had bounced around in my head since I was in university: my great uncle was a notary in Siena, so I more of less knew of the profession. However, he had already stopped working well before I started university, so I had no studio to inherit. Furthermore, I had studied with a friend, a daughter of a notary, and at first, she convinced me to apprentice with her father, and then to study for the notary test.
What exactly does a notary do? A notary is a public official, holding an office of the State. In short, among a notary’s many functions: he gives validity to legal acts and documents, like contracts, wills, and corporate records and transactions. The peculiarity of this trade is that despite being the prerogative and responsibility of the State, the notary is also a freelancer: he is not salaried by the state but has his own office, organization, and his customers. But because of the delicate role, and the power that a notary assumes, it is necessary to pass public testing, as if you are to enter into public administration.
What is the difference between a notary and a lawyer? To become a lawyer you do not need to pass any public testing/competition, but rather a state test. State testing is easier because there are no limits to how many can pass, or ‘win’ the spot. The public testing/competition is harder: there are a predetermined number of spots open, for example, 200. So out of 6,000-7,000 candidates, only the best 200 will be chosen.
How often do they conduct testing to become a notary? More or less, every year and half. Recently, they expanded the predetermined number of notary offices throughout Italy, so the test will be given more often, like once a year.
For how long did you study for the exam? The test lasts for 3 days, 8 hours each day, with different material being covered on each day. It’s basically a simulation of the daily activities of a notary. The exam is very hard because it requires a maximum level of attention and care, for a long period of time. At the end, the one who passes is not the smartest one, but the one who makes no errors.
Why did you choose to become a notary, rather than practicing law? There are a few reasons: it is still considered a special and prestigious job, for one. You earn a good salary without working too much. But above all, you don’t have any bosses, you don’t have competition between colleagues, and no one will break your balls. (Pardon his French.)
What do you think of the obstacles one has to overcome to become a notary in Italy? Winning the spot to become a notary is not easy, actually if its the most difficult position to reach, for those with a law degree (even harder than become a judge), but if you win it, it allows you to resolve some of the problems of the Western man…
Well that sounds pretty grueling…