Thursday, July 18

Postcards from Paradiso: Touring in Italy

Anyone who has any remote connection to Italy, and surely any of my faithful readers will know that I, for one (but we number in the millions), am not a fan of the Italian postal system.  In fact, I dedicate an entire chapter in my book to it, The Postman never rings even once.  And so it is today, that I offer the adventurer and resident alike, a new Travel Tip for all those earnest communicators who desire to share lovely nuggets of their travels to and thru the Bel Paese and beyond.
But, let's start with the historical precedent.  Since, of course, Italy is still quite (pleasantly) a country bound by tradition.  When I first traveled to Italy as an adult, I would be shocked each time I set about trying to send postcards home, for three reasons: 1)  I generally couldn't get stamps for it at the post office, 2) Those purveyors of stamps, Tobacco shops, where I'd be sent on my mission often didn't know what to charge, leaving me stampless, or 3) The ensuing discussion, in the event someone had stamps to offer, of what my postcard actually would cost to mail. 
More images of the front-side &
the Regata Storica di Venezia at

That's because, I would write full sentences (over 5 words, in fact) on the back of my card, informing my parents that indeed, I had yet to be sold into white slavery and was having a good time but did not necessarily 'wish they were here.'  I would soon discover that anything more than 'Saluti' and my signature was deemed 'a letter.'  And I'd have to pay full postage as if mailing a letter sealed in wax [Okay, that last part might not be true...because in the old days - and I'm talking up through the 1990s - I also discovered that letters that were not sealed meant you could pay less to send them].
They say that travel is a journey of discovery.  In fact, my 1982 trip through Europe brought many illuminations such as why my Italian relatives never offered up any actual 'news' on the backs of postcards, why letters arrived unsealed, and how one could actually pee in a hole without getting it all over their pants legs...
[For more on that, check out my post, Wearing it on my (pants) sleeve]

And so, it would appear that some traditions are hard to die.  They've since done away with the sealed/unsealed envelope thing, but writing on postcards means you're going to pay per word; as if sending a telegram in days of yore (still a common practice as well, especially to commemorate (?) the deceased -- but I'll leave that for another day).
So, my sister was surprised to learn it would run $2.88 just to send a postcard from her holiday home.  And this, only after spending 40 minutes at the dreaded Post Office to learn of the rip-off firsthand.
I explained to her the reason why (she deigned to pen a message on the back of it) and so, we came across our fabulous work-around -- especially if you want to communicate to those not on instagram or facebook (yes, these dinosaurs still exist, really and truly):  Apple, many of you will have forgotten, launched in 2011 a brilliant postcard system that only keeps getting better, aptly named (or is that app-ly?) CARDS.
- You take a picture of your fab oceanside view, charming piazza, or mountain hike
- You send it thru Apple
- They even post the actual stamp on it for you (and as far as I can tell, stand in line to do so)
- They send your letter which actually arrives at its destination
- Heck - you can even send the same card to a number of users [and that would appeal to Italians, because then, your message will most likely read, Best Wishes! or something simple of that nature.]
I have since discovered that there's another app for this same postcard & more mailing, the original Postagram - doing that much and more, and the price? Just $0.99 down from $1.99.  And for those of us who still need to send the occasional telegram?  Heck - it's a bargain! 

Note:  many live links throughout post above - just hover over covered areas.


mmtmrb said...

We sent that (traditionally mailed) postcard out on Monday, and it arrived in Maine on Thursday! Amazing.
So I guess you get what you pay for...

Harm said...

Good to know, complete with followup (3-day delivery for $2.88). Sealed and unsealed! Lots of special moments, for sure.