Tabacchi (Pronunciation: ta-bA-Kee) = tobacco shop
It is easy to spot tabacchi shops in Italy by the large sign displaying a large white “T” on a blue or black background. Yes, as the name states, tabacchi shops sell tobacco products…but it is an important place to take note of if you’re in Italy. In most tabacchi shops in Italy you can purchase local bus tickets, international phone cards, and francobolli (postage stamps). In certain authorized locations, you can recharge your Italian cellphone with phone credit and even pay your bills!
Ataf bus tickets
You can buy your bus tickets at the tabacchi shops that have this symbol in their window for €1.20 for a 90 minute pass. If you have a cellphone, you can also buy a one time ticket via sms, just text “ATAF” to the number 4880105 and in a few seconds you will receive an sms with your valid e-ticket. This is valid for 90 minutes and the only extra cost is for the sms itself.
So, you’re in Italy and you want to send a postcard or birthday card back home…where do you go to buy stamps? You have two choices, either visit a post office in town or buy a stamp at a tabacchi shop and mail it yourself. Most of these shops have a method to weigh the letter you need to send and can determine what type of stamp you will need. Once you affix the correct stamp, search for these large red mailboxes found on the sides of buildings around town and drop your letter in the correct slot. In Florence, they will usually have two slots for dropping mail into – the left says “per la città” for mail sent within the city, the right will say “per tutte le altre destinazioni” for all other mail outside of Florence.
Tabacchi Caffè Salvemini
The one tabacchi shop that I have found that is always stocked with francobolli and authorized for pretty much everthing from bills to recharging your phone is Caffè Salvemini in Piazza Salvemini, 20. Yes, you will notice that right across the street there is a large post office, so why would you go here to buy your stamp or pay your bills? That is because you may enter an Italian post office only needing a stamp and exit two hours later very irritable and disgruntled or on a good maybe it will only take you 30 minutes…Your choice! ;)