Gone postal in Italy
NORTH ADELAIDE, SA THERE are tricks for novice travellers in Italy, no matter if you are on the hard side of 65.
Travel light, of course; your airline allows you at least 20kg of checked luggage but you won’t want to carry such a weight for too long. In all Italy, there are only a few railway stations where bags can be rolled straight on to the train — otherwise, it’s a matter of an athletic jerk and lift up narrow steps into the carriage.
Porters who offer to help are not employed by Trenitalia — they expect payment for their services. Negotiating how much to pay is not a fun thing when they have already taken your luggage hostage.
If you’ve packed too much clothing ‘‘just in case’’ and want to send stuff home, check in advance of setting out for the local post office — L’ Ufficio Postale — just how far it really is and the opening times. Not all will keep the same hours, despite the official timetable of 8.30am to 6.30pm — or 8am to 5pm, depending on the size of the town, and others observe siesta and just slam shut at 1pm and may or may not reopen that day.
On the upside, many post offices are open on Saturday mornings and you can expect helpful service. Most counter staff in cities and large towns speak English well and go out of their way to assist.
Italians are polite and you should return their welcome Buon Giorno before stating your request and don’t forget Grazie or even Grazie Mille when your postal transactions are (hopefully) accomplished.
When addressing (not speaking personally to it, of course) your excess baggage, remember the first address you’ll need to write is your own. OK, it is your baggage, but it’s your address in Italy that the post office requires — della means from. The next address required on the form is your home (or wherever the baggage is heading) — quite the opposite of what you’d expect.
Be prepared to pay well for the pleasure of sending your unaccompanied baggage elsewhere. Otherwise, starting from now, practise packing lightly for that Italian holiday, per favore. Follow the Reader columns now also appear each Tuesday on our new Travel & Food page. Send your 400-word contribution to our Follow the Reader column. Published columnists will receive OSA Brands’ Universal Travel Adaptor with USB ($39.95) and Tatonka Check In Bag ($29.95), ideal to keep documents safe, featuring zip compartments, belt loop and detachable shoulder strap. More: 1800 558 707; osabrands.com. Send your contribution to: travel@theaustralian. com.au.