How To: The Italian Post Office

Vintage Mail 009

So using the post office in Italy can be kinda scary.  You are in this official looking building and there are tons of people standing around.  There is a kiosk where there are official looking forms that some people are filling out and a yellow box with several options to press.  I’ll come back to this yellow box.  So it turns out that the post office is for more than just mail.  Old people can collect their pensions here on pension day and the entire city pays their bills here too.  So it’s like a DMV plus any other government office you can imagine.  Today I went to the post office to get a bunch of stamps to mail all my thank you letters and other letters and future post cards.  So I pressed the button on the said yellow button machine that I thought I had pressed every other time that I’ve been to the post office to mail things.  I wait the like 5 minutes it takes for them to call my number, only to get told that I picked the wrong one.  I was determined to figure out via internet what button I should press for what when I go to the post office and to learn the basic Italian vocabulary for post office terms.  I’ve scoured every resource I can think of trying to figure out which button to press: the actual website of the post office, multiple blogs, and I retyped my questions in google several times.  And literally, NOBODY KNOWS WHICH BUTTON TO PRESS!  One blog said that “P” stood for “pagare” or “to Pay” and another one said that it stood for “Post.”  So I’m here to settle this.  I think the easiest way is to directly translate what the buttons actually say. So…

Next to the box where you press to get your ticket, there is a sign describing all the things you can do at the post office and which button you should press so you can get in the right line.  On my last trip to the post office, I passed the time writing all this stuff down on my cell phone for everyone.  I hope the world appreciates this!

First there is E

It says: “Riservato Titulari condo BancoPosta
This Means: “Reserved for Private Owners of BancoPosta”  —  Whatever that means

Then there is A

It Says: “Servizi Finanziare
Which Means: “Financial Services
And Lists:
Bollettini Bulletins
Pensioni e stipendi Pensions and salaries
Libretti di Risparmio Savings Books
Buoni Postali Good post
Versamenti e Prelievi Deposits and Withdrawals
Vaglia Online Money Online
Bonifici Transfers
PostePay PostePay
PosteMobile PosteMobile
Ricariche Telefoniche Telephone refills
MoneyGram MoneyGram
Eurogiro Eurogiro
F23 e F24 F23 and F24 (? Don’t know what this is)
Cambiavalute Moneychanger
It also says further below: “Area Prodotti Finanziari
Which Means: “Area for Financial Products
And Lists:
Conto BancoPosta e Servizi Connessi BancoPosta and Associated Services
Prestiti Personali Personal Loans
Mutui Mortgages
Obbligazioni Bonds
Prodotti Assicurativi Ramo Vita Insurance Products Life Insurance
Prodotti Previdenziali Social Security products
Fondi Comuni di Investimento Mutual Funds
Prodotti di Risparmio Postale Postal Savings Products
Negoziazione Titoli Securities Trading
Altri Prodotti di investimento Other Investment Products

Finally there is P

It says: “Servizi Corrispondenza e pacchi
Which means: “Mail and Parcel Services
Servizi Corrispondenza e pacchi Mail and Parcel Services
Raccomandata 1 Registered 1
Raccomandata e Assicurate Registered and Insured
Posta Celere Corriere Espresso Express Mail Express Courier
Pacco Celere Corriere Espresso Express Mail Express Courier
Pacco Ordinario Parcels
Posta Prioritaria Priority Mail
PosteMobile PosteMobile
Francobolli Stamps
Telegrammi Telegrams
Fax Fax
Seguimi Follow me (?)

Italian Post Office Vocabulary

Address l’indirizzo
Addressee il destinatorio
Air Mail la posta aerea
Area Code il prefisso
C.A.P. (zip code) il codice di avviamento postale
C.O.D il contrassegno
Coin Changer il distributore-monete
Counter lo sportello
Customs Declaration la dichiarazione doganale
Destination la destinazione
Information l’informazione
Letter la lettera
Mail Box la cassetta della posta
Package il pacco
Package Card la bolletta di spedizione
Picture Postcard la cartolina illustrata
Postcard la cartolina postale
Post Office Box la casella postale
Postage l’affrancatura
Postal Clerk l’imiegato postale
Postman il postino
Printed Matter le stampe
Receipt la ricevuta
Register fare una raccomandata
Register Letter la raccomandata
Sender il mittente
Small Parcel il pacchetto
Special Delivery l’espresso
Special Delivery Letter la lettere per espresso
Special Issue Stamp il francobollo emissione speciale
Stamp (noun) il francobollo
Stamp (verb) affrancare
Stamp Machine il distributore francobolli
Telegram il telegramma
Unstamped non affrancato
Value Declaration la dichiarazione del valore

What can you send:

  • You can send letters, documents, notifications, books and small items of up to 2 kg all over the world.
  • You can also send books up to a maximum weight of 5 kg to the following countries only:
  • Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Greece and Switzerland.

How Long will it Take?

  • Europe: 3 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) from the day of postage in 85% of cases;
  • Mediterranean basin: 4/5 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) from the day of postage in 85% of cases;
  • North America: 5/6 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) from the day of postage in 85% of cases; — In my experience, it usually takes about 7-10 days
  • Rest of the Americas, Asia and Oceania: 7/8 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) from the day of postage in 85% of cases;
  • Other African countries: 8/9 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) from the day of postage in 85% of cases.


Hours

All post offices are open from Monday to Saturday from 8.15 to 1.30. Post offices on Via Pelliceria, 3 and on Via Pietrapiana, 53, are open from 8.15 to 6.00. (Those listed are in Florence)


How to write an Italian address

I always write my return address like this; and my mom wrote it like this for a package she sent.
Name (First + Last)
Street Name, #
City, FI (Province Initials – like CA,WA,AZ, etc) CAP (Italian zip code)
Country (Italia)
Example (meaning it’s NOT REAL):
John Doe
Piazzale Michelangelo, 26
Firenze, FI 50121
Italia
Here is a link to all the abbreviations of the provinces in Italy.



So not all of it may be correct; especially translation wise.  But this is what I can deduce from being at the post office.  In general, you probably want to press the “P” button if you have anything post office related; like mailing postcards, getting/receiving packages, etc.  I have only tried to mail and get stamps from the post office.  You can also buy stamps at “tabacchi” stores.  I assume the ones that sell things like bus tickets and the “marco di bollo” etc.  So anything seen here that talks about anything otherwise is based merely on research.  Some of the terms also didn’t translate all the way and are noted with a (?).
I hope that this helps anyone who is trying to navigate the Italian Post Offices.  I’m sure I would have appreciated this knowledge!
Vintage Letters
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