I slowed my pace as I walked up to the yellow and blue banner that said “Poste Italiane.” Two days prior, I tried going to the Tabacchi to buy stamps to send a letter back to the States. It turns out that I could only purchase postcards and envelopes (buste) at the Tabacchi. You can spot these shops by locating blue and white/black and white T signs that hang outside their doors. It reminds me of the convenience stores at home, but much smaller.
When I arrived, I was not expecting a long wait since there were only three people ahead of me, but people went in front of me as time went on. It looked like they had a reservation. Little did I know that Italians do everything at the post office, such as paying bills, issuing credit cards, and more.
On my third attempt to enter through the sliding doors, which seemed to open only from the inside, I finally entered after thirty minutes of waiting. I looked directly left and clicked on the smiley face icon, got my ticket number, and waited for the number to appear on the overhead board.
I hurried over to the counter and greeted her first. Then, I asked her, without much confidence, “Posso comprare una busta e un francobollo per Stati Uniti.” She understood and took about 20 minutes to do something on the computer. I patiently waited and prepared to write the addresses on the envelopes. It cost 2.80 Euros in total! Then she handed me my stamp, and I struggled to get the sticker off for about five minutes…until I realized that it was not a sticker. Wanting to get out as soon as possible, I asked for help, and they gave me a glue stick for the stamp. She said “bye-bye” as I handed back the glue stick and shoved my change in my pocket.
Overall, I’m glad that I could send the letter, and I hope it will safely get home! Experiencing this alone helped me challenge myself and build more confidence when speaking Italian.
Here are my tips for the Post Office in Rome:
1. Be prepared to wait in a line/ be patient.
2. Try practicing the basic vocabulary of what you want (usually they do not give out envelopes at the post office, you can buy these at the tabacchi!)
3. You can only go in one person at a time.
4. Write down the addresses you need to send your letter/postcard to.
5. Greet the person (Salve) /say thank you (Grazie)!