Today we applied for residency in Italy. For that, you get a “kit” at the post office and fill it out to the best of your ability before returning it to the post office and watching the guys put the thing together with all the special stamps and things you’re required to buy. You also must have a visa from your local consulate pasted into your passport or things will come to a screeching halt.
Then you wait. At the end of May we go to Massa to be interviewed, fingerprinted, and hopefully to slide down the slope of the big hill that stands in the way of buying a car and paying regular rates for heating.
But I’m here to talk about the differences between Post Offices in Italy and the US.
In the US, you go to the counter and you get stamps and mail packages. That’s pretty much it. The line moves pretty quickly, considering that there’s not much to do in it.
In Italy, besides getting residence assistance, you can buy a washing machine at the Post Office. No kidding. I picked up a couple of catalogs today. Yep, it’s the PosteShop. Need an espresso maching? Get it at the post office. They ship free if you spend over 75€. You’d think they could afford to send stuff “free” anyway since they’re sorta in charge of the transport biz, but no.
I’m thinking of buying a poltrona massaggiante, a big massaging chair. Imagine sauntering up to the head of the line to ask some poor postal-worker-for-life to lift that sucker over the counter to the amazement of the other 472 people in line. (I say line, but actually there isn’t a concept of a line in Italy. I, of course, argue that Italians are correct in not liking lines (see: Nonlinear Italians) but your typical American is shocked by such a pronouncement, since idiotically standing in lines is a religious issue in America, evidently).
You can also get money at the Italian post office. Then you pay it out. Yes, the post office is where you pay the bills you haven’t figured out how to get the bank to pay automatically.
This, of course, means that the post office, or l’ufficcio Postale, or Poste Italiane is often busy as all get out. Yes, folks will camp out there if they have a heavy package that the person behind the counter has to classify. Often, arguments about shipping cost are the order of the day. Everyone joins in. It’s a sort of sport.
They could make a mint if they declared a 10 minute pausa after every hour of argument and sold gelato. Just sayin’. They do sell Ferrari Laptops. (€1,299.00) though—evidently so you can get your work done zippity fast, allowing you to spend the bulk of the day standing around at the post office waiting to mail a package.
But at least the Italian post office has a web page in English. Does yours have one in Italian?
Ha! Got you there!
You want to know what I had for breakfast on this fine day in Northern Tuscany? Well, it’s on our facebook page and 5 people like it. This proves you don’t have to be Guy de Maupassant in the travel writing biz in order to please people, but you should read “Ball of Fat” anyway. It’s the best short story ever written. It’s about a prostitute. There’s food in it. Not real food—that would get messy—but a description of food I mean. And lots of hypocrisy. It’s what the rich are good at.