How To Post A Card in Parma -Five Easy Steps

Step 1. Do not go to the post office. Even if that seems to make sense. Don’t sit on a chair with your list of countries and number of stamps required written down to avoid confusion ( not because you don’t trust your two term Beginner’s Italian), clutching your ticket and waiting for your number to flash across the screen in one the most outrageously beautiful post offices (complete with frescoes) you’re ever likely to step foot in. If you do this you will have learned you made a mistake thirty minutes after waiting because they don’t sell stamps here. Go to the tabaccheria, that’s where you bought the postcards.

Post Office. Baroque Opulence? Yes. Stamps? Not so much

Post Office. Baroque Opulence? Yes. Stamps? Not so much

Step 2. Do not go to the actual tabaccheria where you bought the postcards. That tabaccheria will only have stamps to post cards in Italy. Yes, only Italy. You might look incredulous and this incredulity will derive in large part from something you rarely see in an Italian, his realization that selling postcards in a shop but not selling all the right stamps just doesn’t make sense. I believe there is no Italian translation for nonplussed a state I find myself in when he tells me to try the other tabacchi on Garibaldi “dritto, sinistra….”

Get some stamps here. Just not the ones you want.

Get some stamps here. Just not the ones you want.

Step 3. Do not not go to the other shop. Find it. These postcards are now a metaphor. Another teachable moment in a life chock full of them. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Stay the course. Walk in 36 degree heat with swollen feet in stylish but inappropriate for this hike slippers until you find it. It is tiny and tucked away very discreetly on Strada G. Garibaldi and after you wait in the tiny space for the shopkeeper to serve three espressos, laugh with his friends then come over to you, you may rejoice because he has all the stamps.

Here. All the stamps you need & atmosphere too.

Here. All the stamps you need & atmosphere too. 

Step 4. Don’t balk at the price of stamps, all of which exceed the price of the cards themselves. Practise your atrocious Italian and revel in the simple generosity as one of the espresso friends comes over and acts as translator. “I speak English” she says. And you leave there with five to the USA, four to Jamaica, one each to Canada, England and Spain ( though the guy wasn’t so sure about Canada) find a space to sit and stamp and address each one.

At last. Stamped!

At last. Stamped!

Step 5. Don’t stop sending postcards. Because each addressee is worth it. A postcard takes them on your journey with you and I know email, whatsapp, instagram and twitter are faster but I don’t care. Doesn’t matter how far I have to go I will always find the post office. Hey, remember to check the post.

Half Italy. Half the Rest of the World. Done

Half Italy. Half the Rest of the World. Done

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