A trip to an Italian post office can be a baffling experience. If you can figure out how to get in the door, then you are one step ahead of me.
My first time at an ufficio postale, I could not figure out how to enter the office. I finally realized that I had to stand in front of a weird looking capsule and wait for a green light. Green means GO, and if you step forward the doors will open to allow you into the waiting chamber. I assume this is so someone somewhere can verify that you are abiding by the prominent pictorial depictions that clearly declare “NO GUNS! NO KNIVES!”
After another green light, you are permitted through another set of automatic doors and into the post office.
The post office WILL be packed. It doesn’t matter what time of day you go- it is always busy. Oh, but make sure you go before 2 pm because that is when the post offices in Italy close.
Once inside, do not mistakenly conclude that there is a lot of package-shipping happening in Italy. The percentage of the crowd in attendance to send a package will probably be quite small. Most of the group is there to pay bills. Electric bills. Phone bills. Bills bills- you pay at the post office.
Since there are so many different services provided by the post office, you have to take a number for the service desk you are waiting for. Approach the yellow machine and punch the letter that corresponds to your post office needs. You will get a ticket like this:
Then you wait for the minutes to crawl by until your number is called. Do NOT miss your number. That is your one chance to go to the counter.
In this case, “P” stands for “pagare” or payment.
If you’re there to make a payment, remember to fill out your own receipt, in triplicate, by hand. The person at the desk will be happy to put an official stamp on it for you.
OH and if you need a Marca di bollo? A stamp? Remember to buy it first at the tabbaco shop, NOT at the post office. That would be silly.