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 9-1:30; central post offices are open weekdays 9-6:30, Saturday 9-12:30 (some until 6:30). 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 Internazionale to the United States costs €2 for up to 20 grams, €3.50 for 21–50 grams, and €4.50 for 51–100 grams. Mail sent as Postacelere to the United States costs €56.70 for up to 500 grams.
Reliable two-day international mail is generally available during the week in all major cities and at popular resorts via UPS and Federal Express—but again, customs delays can slow down "express" service.
Sending a letter or small package to the United States via Federal Express takes at least two days and costs about €45. Other package services to check are Quick Pack Europe (for delivery within Europe) and Express Mail Service (a global three- to five-day service for letters and packages). Compare prices with those of Postacelere to determine the cheapest option.
If your hotel can't assist you with shipping, try an Internet café; many offer two-day mail services using major carriers.
If you've purchased antiques, ceramics, or other fragile objects, ask if the vendor will do the shipping for you. In most cases this is possible, and preferable, because many merchants have experience with these kinds of shipments. If so, ask whether the article will be insured against breakage.
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