Sending Postcards in Italy: Friend Post is Not the Official Italian Post

On a recent trip to Italy I bought some postcards.

As always when buying postcards abroad, I asked in the shop whether they also sold stamps.  The very friendly and helpful young lady said they did and counted out the right number.

As she handed over the paper bag containing the postcards and stamps, she also gave me a Friend Post leaflet and explained to only put the postcards into the yellow post boxes and not into the red ones belonging to the Italian Post.

What is Friend Post?

Friend Post appears to be a private company offering an alternative postal delivery service in certain Italian cities.

On their website they claim the advantage of their system is that Friend Post stickers are easily available in souvenir shops, newsagents, etc. whereas official Italian stamps are hard to find.  As I do not live in Italy I have been unable to substantiate whether this claim is true.

Did They Deliver?

Yes, the postcards arrived about 8 working days after I posted them.  This is a little slower than my recollection of deliveries by Italian Post but perhaps not an unreasonable length of time.

Difficulty Finding Post Boxes

When it came to posting the cards, I had quite a lot of difficulty finding the yellow post boxes.

One of the main problems seems to be that they are inside shops rather than outside in the street.  This relies on the shop being open at the time you want to post your cards.

Several boxes listed on their website were at addresses I could not find.  It is possible this may be due in part to the bizarre numbering system apparent in some Italian cites.

Also, if you are on a tour that travels from one city to another then you may find that by the time you’ve written your postcards you are in a city where Friend Post does not operate.

According to their website they only operate in the following places: Assisi, Catania, Florence, Lake Maggiore, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Verona, Venice.

Does Friend Post Cost More?

Several contributors on a TripAdvisor page are critical of Friend Post.  They suggest that the stamps are more expensive than those from the Italian post.  I was unable to locate the cost of a stamp on the official Italian Post site or on Friend Post, so the jury is out on that one.

Data Protection Risk?

Friend Post has a Lost & Found page.  The intention of this page is to allow users to identify their postcard if they forgot to include the address or put the sticker (stamp) on.

It is concerning that the addresses people did include have not been redacted.  Publishing people’s names and addresses, as well as private messages that were sent to them, may constitute a breach of data privacy/protection and certainly is not good practice.

Will I Use Friend Post Again?

Whilst I recognise that Friend Post did deliver the postcards, it is unlikely I will use them again.  This is in part because of how difficult it was to find the post boxes and also due to my concerns about the possible extra cost and slower delivery.

Next time I go into an Italian shop selling postcards I will check whether they sell official stamps from the Poste Italiane before handing over any money.

Here’s a website with details of where to buy stamps in Italy.