Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "italy"

Michele (aka mikebond) comes from Italy, but currently lives in France. He’s a big fan of languages and can speak lots of them, including Portuguese — not an easy feat! Michele is also a big enthusiast of Postcrossing meetups, which is how we’ve met him a few times already. :) Here he is:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I have always loved sending and receiving postcards to friends and family members. At high school I started penpalling with people from several countries, but sadly I lost contact with them when I started university and had no time left to write meaningful letters.

So, imagine my excitement when, in 2008, Pinar, a fellow Turkish member of VirtualTourist.com, told me about a website where you could send and receive postcards to and from all over the world. I immediately loved the idea of having my mailbox full of beautiful postcards and messages from strangers. Back in 2008, Finland was the most represented country on Postcrossing, and some people moaned about getting “always Finland!” (later, the recurring moan turned into “always Russia!”), but postal fares were cheaper, waiting times shorter, and it was easier to send to, or receive from rare countries. I received some of my rarest postcards in 2008 or 2009.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

Definitely drawing addresses, with the hope of getting a rare country, or an inspiring profile! Then reading the profiles and finding the appropriate postcard for each recipient.

Of course, opening my mailbox and finding beautiful postcards in it is just as amazing! The first thing I do when I get one is to read the message and look at the decorations and stamps. To me, an outstanding back side makes the ugliest postcard pretty!

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

This is the mailbox where I post my postcards in my Breton village:

mikebondmailbox

We don’t have a real post office here, but only a “post relay”, i.e. a desk inside the mini-market, whose owner also provides postal services. The closest post office is in the nearby town, 5 kms far away, so I rarely go there. I always order my stamps online since La Poste’s online shop ships stamps orders within a couple of days and for free if you spend over 25 euros. Postmen here deliver the mail in yellow vans, between 10am and midday.

I keep most of my official Postcrossing cards in albums like this:

mikebondalbum

And since space is limited in my albums, I keep postcards from swaps, RAS, etc on piles like these:

mikebondpile
Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

I was amazed when I received not one but two postcards from Mauritius in 2015, sent by Jordan and Tamera, two young siblings who had drawn my address simultaneously: MU-3168 and MU-3173!

More recently, I was extremely surprised when I drew an address on the Isle of Man. I was so happy to be able to send a postcard to this fellow Celtic land with only 25 postcrossers! And the recipient, Andrea, loved it, too!

Have you met any other members in real life?

I still cannot explain to myself how on Earth I could be a postcrosser for over 9 years without ever attending a Postcrossing meetup! Since I organised, and attended, my first two meetings in Italy in October and November 2017, traveling to such events has become an essential part of my Postcrossing experience. It is so much more fun to write postcards with old and new friends than at home alone!

So far, I have attended 15 meetings in seven different countries (Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria, Norway, Luxembourg and the latest in Belgium).

This photo was taken during my birthday dinner in Lisbon on 7 May 2018, two days after the awesome international meeting I attended there!

mikebondbday

I would have never imagined I could have such an international celebration with new friends from Portugal, Belgium and Norway, but Postcrossing made it possible! Since my very first meetup, I have become increasingly convinced that “Postcrossing is real only when shared”, just like happiness.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

It is almost impossible to pick ONE favorite postcard out of about 2700, but I will choose this one:

mikebondfav lFAHqrKo

(Back of postcard posted with permission)

I have chosen it because it is the most beautiful Christmas card I have received so far. Christmas time is often a sad time of the year for me, but postcards like this one, wisely chosen, brightly decorated, and with awesome Christmas stamps, made it lighter than usual.

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

Yes! After my first meetup in 2017, I was interviewed by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which prompted over 400 Italian readers to join Postcrossing.

Moreover, my stories about postcards and meetings inspired a few (virtual) friends to try Postcrossing, including my Catalan tutor Carol. We even organized a Postcrossing meeting in her Catalan village in October 2018.

Sadly, I have never been able to inspire my family members to join Postcrossing. After more than ten years since I joined it, they still think I am a bit crazy!

Do you have any other interesting hobbies, or things that you’re passionate about?

Unfortunately (?), I have always been too curious about everything, so I have always had such a variety of hobbies that I often lack the time to devote to each of them.

My main hobby has been learning languages since I started studying French and English at junior high school. At high school I picked up Latin and German, then added a language after the other. Today I know a dozen of languages and have some knowledge of twice as many.

My other vital hobby has always been travelling. Since I was 7 years old, my parents and I travelled to a different part of France every summer for several years. When I was 17, I started attending summer school abroad (in England, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, and Slovenia). After that, I started travelling on my own and never stopped. I have travelled to half of the European countries and I aim to visit all of them. My latest visited country was Norway in July.

Another hobby I have nurtured since I was a child is collecting stuff: mostly coins and stamps, but also museum or transport tickets. In spite of this, I have never seen “official” Postcrossing as a way of increasing a collection, as its social aspect has always been more important to me.

More hobbies include reading, taking photos… and I must be forgetting something!

Besides these, I have been interested in Europe’s culture, society, and politics since I was a teenager. I used to volunteer for an Italian political party when I was in my early twenties, but now I no longer belong to any because I find it increasingly difficult to identify with one.

Since I have been living in the Breton countryside without a driving license and with an e-bike as my only autonomous means of transport, I have become increasingly passionate about riding my e-bike (I hadn’t ridden a bike for at least 15 years before buying my first one here in Brittany!) and interested in topics like slow/green mobility and alternative travel styles. I look forward to going on my first bike journey across Europe, hopefully soon!

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Since we’re sort of on the topic of movies, have you ever seen “Il Postino” (aka, The Postman)? The movie might be over 20 years old, but it’s a magical one, featuring a postman as the central character. Timeout’s synopsis is pretty spot on:

Il Postino poster
“When, in 1952, the exiled Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda (Noiret) takes up residence in a house on a quiet little island off the Neapolitan coast, the fan mail he receives is so copious that the postmaster hires Mario (Troisi), the none too bright son of a local fisherman, to deliver the celebrity’s mail. At first, Mario is simply star-struck by Neruda, who responds with understandable wariness to the postman’s gauche attempts at conversation; soon, however, he’s teaching Mario about metaphors, and when the postman falls for Beatrice (Cucinotta), a lovely but rather aloof barmaid, the poet agrees to try to help him win her with words. Inspired by an incident in Neruda’s life, the story’s engaging blend of easy humour and sunny romance takes hold from the start and never lets go. Much of its seductive charm derives from the excellence of the leads: Noiret does his gruff but malleable turn to perfection, while Troisi (who died soon after filming finished) exudes a simplicity of heart, mind and soul that never seems excessively sentimental. Mercifully, Radford avoids making the small peasant community too glamorously Arcadian. Old-fashioned it may be, but it knocks the spots off pap like Cinema Paradiso.”

And here’s the trailer, if you’d like to have a look:

So that’s our suggestion for your weekend entertainment! Do you have other mail-themed movies we should check out? Let us know in the comments!

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Some time ago, Audrey (aka belladomanda) from the US sent us a tip about this wonderful paper artist she had stumbled upon. Have a look:

CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards

These stunning landscapes are made by Italian artist Caterina Rossato, who lives in a quiet town north of Venice. We were mesmerised by her intricate sceneries and the way she juxtapose details from dozens of different postcards to create new imaginary worlds. Curious to know more, we reached out to Caterina who kindly agreed to reply to a few questions about her work.

Hi Caterina! Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?

My name is Caterina Rossato and I live in Bassano del Grappa, where I have my base camp. I like to move around, follow multiple projects simultaneously and suddenly fall in love with something that makes me forget what I was doing. I do not like to wait for the right moment and I hate perfection.

On weekends I like to climb mountains or go skiing on the glaciers with my partner. From this height you can see a bigger slice of the world.

CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards
How did you start doing these mini landscapes? What inspires you?

It all started with the idea of breaking down the images and put them together, then with the need to sublimate into a single image multiple points of view or all the photos taken during a trip or a day. I create images in which all possible visuals and temporal variations of an experience are concentrated. They are two-dimensional images but developed in a sculptural way, made of levels, intersections, overlaps and joints. The viewer feels a sense of familiarity and alienation at the same time. Right now I’m working on a project with CNC milling machines that will allow me to combine these fragments into a third dimension.

CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards
And on a more practical level, where do you find all these postcards?

In the case of analog collages, I buy stock of postcards from Ebay or local merchants: about 4000 – 5000 postcards every time. I always try to buy postcards from different areas and I usually change suppliers. When I compose digital collage I use hundreds of photographs taken by me in a specific landscape or I do research on the internet to find what I need, always in really high resolution.

Both analog and digital cutouts are organised in very detailed catalogs: analog clippings are divided into a filing cabinet with many drawers, digital ones go into folders and subfolders on my mac.

CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards
Are you a postcard or letter writer yourself?

For many years I’ve been writing letters and postcards to my grandmother who lives far away from me. I started because I had the need to find a personal way to communicate with her, as she’s not able to send messages by mobile phone and with age her hearing has deteriorated making talking on the phone impossible. Given that other old uncles also live in my grandmother’s building, I started to write to all of them, in order to avoid upsetting anyone… so the arrival of the mail has become a highly anticipated moment, both for me and for them.

Whenever my grandmother receives a postcard she sticks it under the calendar. I’m interested in this shared time devoted to the thought and the gaze.

Can you show us a picture of your workspace, or a mini-landscape work in progress?

CATERINA ROSSATO - studio CATERINA ROSSATO - studio

Thank you Caterina, that was wonderful! 😊 You can find these and other projects of Caterina on her website, caterinarossato.com.

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How do you mend a broken heart? In the midst of all the sadness and sorrow, some people turn to gloomy songs that seem to sing to the tune of a broken heart… others to ice-cream, chocolate or cheesy romantic comedies.

Some people turn to literature though, to the great romances and classical couples — and of these, Romeo and Juliet are the epitome of the star-crossed lovers. If anyone could understand them, surely it would be Juliet. If only one could write to her…

Actually you can — and many people do, sending thousands of letters every year simply addressed to “Juliet, Verona, Italy”. The missives are delivered to Il Club di Giulietta (Juliet’s Club), a group of volunteers in Verona who take the time to read and reply to all the letters, by hand. They explain:

“The story of the Juliet Letters starts in the 1930’s when Ettore Solimani, the guardian of Juliet’s Tomb, began gathering the first letters people left at the grave and, moved by this phenomenon, he started replying, thus becoming the first “Juliet’s secretary”. Today this special task is taken by the Juliet Club: each letter is read, translated, answered by the ”Juliet’s secretaries" who keep a one-of-a-kind archive that contains thousands of love stories and countless words of love."

Last month, a group of Italian postcrossers visited the club’s office, where they were treated to a guided tour by Manuela Uber, one of Juliet’s secretaries. They listened to the story of the club, looked through some letters and took a lot of nice photos to share the experience!

Juliet's club tour Juliet's club tour Juliet's club tour  Juliet's club tour Juliet's club tour

Afterwards, they all sat down in a pizzeria to eat… and write some postcards, naturally! :)

Verona meetup Verona meetup

Thank you Kinucci for telling us about this lovely meetup, and Saintursula, Antonella-, uncoiled_tiger and Jeraldine for letting us show your photos.

PS – If you’re in the mood for a cheesy romantic comedy, there’s also a movie about Il Club di Giulietta, called Letters to Juliet! 😀

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Claudia is a creative Postcrosser from Italy, she even illustrates her own postcards. Read more about her in the following Spotlight interview!

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I discovered Postcrossing reading a newspaper – I immediately thought that it would be a great chance for me to experience the world outside my window in Naples in a brand new way: not just by seeing pictures of new places but also by discovering aspects of people’s lives and cultures through senders’ words. I also loved the idea of establishing random contacts, as this allows the whole Postcrossing adventure to be free from any boundaries of age, color, culture or religion.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

I have many hobbies, but I should admit that I am not dedicated to all of them. I am dedicated in playing with my pets, reading books, watching movies and TV series, drawing, sun tanning and eating chocolate [I’m definitely too active in that :)] Then I sometimes love creative activities such as decoupage, scrapbooking, making beaded jewelry, and sewing bags for my niece or Halloween costumes for my pets. I would love to learn more about cooking and baking, especially foreign recipes.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

My youngest cat Pepe hidden in the mailbox, ready to scare the mailman to death :)

nextlola mailbox
Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

I have received many beautiful postcards and I love them all for different reasons, but I do actually have my top three:

I generally love picturesque street view postcards, as they let me dream about how great it would be to walk those different corners of the earth.

nextlola streets

This postcard litterally left me breathless, because when I was 4 or 5 years old my dad built a wooden model of this same ship for me! Now I know it’s the “Endevour”, the vessel in which Captain Cook first sighted New Zeland in 1769.

nextlola vessel

With this third postcard I want to thank every single postcrosser who accepted my invitation to swap one or more of my favourite postcards with me. It’s amazing to discover that there are people around the world ready to do their utmost to find a postcard you like, just to make you happy.

nextlola swapcard
What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

Receiving a postcard is always a big joy for me, but what I love most is to make my own postcards. Ever since I joined Postcrossing, I created my handmade postcards, because I wanted to share more of myself than just the few lines you can write on a postcard…to give them a “personal touch”. So, inspired by my beloved pets (1 mini-pinscher dog, 4 cats and 4 parrots), sketch by sketch, my handdrawn characters – the “Nextlola’s Zoo” – materialized in front of me… hoping to bring a smile to the receivers’ faces. I was hugely surprised by the extent of appreciation from other postcrossers, and because of the enthusiastic support of some of them (very special to me), I decided to try to turn my hobby into a job by printing my own postcards and selling them on my website.

nextlola for postcrosser
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