The Italian mail system has a bad reputation but has become noticeably more efficient in recent times with some privatization. Allow from 7 to 15 days for mail to get to the United States. Receiving mail in Italy, especially packages, can take weeks, usually due to customs (not postal) delays.
Most post offices are open Monday-Saturday 9-12:30; central post offices are open weekdays 9-6:30, Saturday 9-12:30 (some until 6:30). On the last day of the month post offices close at midday. You can buy stamps at tobacco shops as well as post offices.
Posta Prioritaria (for regular letters and packages) is the name for standard postage. It guarantees delivery within Italy in three to five business days and abroad in five to six working days. The more expensive express delivery, Postacelere (for larger letters and packages), guarantees one-day delivery to most places in Italy and three- to five-day delivery abroad. Note that the postal service has no control over customs, however, which makes international delivery estimates meaningless.
Mail sent as Posta Prioritaria to the United States costs €0.85 for up to 20 grams, €1.50 for 21-50 grams, and €1.85 for 51-100 grams. Mail sent as Postacelere to the United States costs €43-€50 for up to 500 grams.
Other package services to check are Quick Pack Europe, for delivery within Europe; and EMS Express Mail Service, a global three- to five-day service for letters and packages that can be less expensive than Postacelere.
Two-day mail is generally available during the week in all major cities and at popular resorts via UPS and Federal Express. Service is reliable; a Federal Express letter to the United States costs about €35—but again, customs delays can slow down "express" service. If your hotel can't assist you with shipping, try an Internet café, many of which also offer two-day mail services using major carriers.
You can ship parcels only via air, which takes about two weeks. If you have purchased antiques, ceramics, or other objects, ask if the vendor will do the shipping for you; in most cases this is a possibility, and preferable, because they have experience with these kinds of shipments. If so, ask whether the article will be insured against breakage. When shipping a package out of Italy, it's virtually impossible to find an overnight delivery option—the fastest delivery time is 48 to 72 hours, though once again this will not include any time your shipment might spend in customs.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- $92 & up -- Italy: Luxe Hotel Sale in Summer, 50% Off Accor Hotels
- $259 -- Venice: Luxury Boutique Hotel thru Summer, $45 Off LaGare Hotel Venezia Mgallery Collection
- $3099 -- Italy: 8-Nt. Vacation w/Air & Tours, Save $400 Friendly Planet Travel
- $629 -- 7-Night Mediterranean Cruise on Norwegian Epic CruisesOnly
- Impressions of Italy IExplore