Word of the Day – “Francobolli”


La Maestra Maldestra

If you master this word, you’ll feel Italian for sure. It combines so many elements that non-speakers admire about the Italian language: four musical vowels, the hard to grasp double consonant, the rolled r that sets the tongue all a-flutter… The beauty of its sound must lend beauty to its meaning, right?

Well, you tell me. Francobolli are postage stamps – nothing too exciting, sexy, or inherently Italian about them. Except they’re a crucial element in your postcard-sending abilities from abroad, so listen up.

I wholeheartedly encourage the “make it sound Italian and hope for the best” approach to communication when you’re at a loss for the right word. By adding a vowel on the end of a word, non-Italians can sometimes come very close to actually saying what they’re trying to. And other times, not so much. In post office dealings, the tendency would be to turn “stamp” into “stampa“, with the -a at the end giving the word all the Italian flavour it needs to get the job done. But a stampa has to do with printing rather than mailing. It can refer to good old Gutenberg’s printing press, an art print, or the press (media), but it most certainly won’t get you a postage stamp.

So when your postcards are brimming with superlatives to send to the folks back home, go to the nearest Tabacchi store (like a corner store, but literally a “tobacco shop”) or Ufficio Postale (post office) and ask for some francobolli to accompany your cartoline (post cards) safely to their destination.

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