Some people collect magnets, local crafts or knick knacks as travel souvenirs. I take photos and pick up an occasional postcard.

I prefer postcards that are unusual and avoid run-of-the-mill prints that are sold at tacky shops surrounding tourist landmarks. I would scour independent bookstores for a unique or interesting postcard. Once in a while though, I would buy a cliché or over-the-top design – imagine the Eiffel tower covered with glitter – to send a chuckle to someone.

Choosing the right design for the intended recipient(/s) is also part of the fun in shopping for postcards.

For instance, my mum is born in the Chinese zodiac year of the rooster and has an affinity for the bird. So when I spotted a postcard bearing this image at a recent Raymond Depardon exhibition at Grand Palais in Paris, I had to get it for her.

IMG-20140123-03364-65
Left: Photo insert of the front
Right: Back of the postcard with some badly drawn horses – I sent it to my family as a Chinese New Year greeting!

I love the process of choosing, writing and sending postcards, including lining up at the post office to buy stamps. I especially like the idea of sending a postcard to someone to let them know that I’m thinking of him or her – a physical surprise that the recipient can hold, show those around him or her, and pin up on the fridge.

I find this more meaningful and personal than sending an email or message on Whatsapp or Facebook, which are undoubtedly more convenient and almost instantaneous. Still, it’s a shame that less people are sending actual postcards these days with the prevalence of social media and digital postcards.

+++

When I was in Venice last week, I was searching for postcards that are not of the usual gondola/carnival/Rialto bridge image.

I chanced upon Chimera (Salizzada dei Greci, Castello 3459), a boutique selling handmade pottery, earrings and stationary. A young lady was busy sanding wooden blocks for prints when I entered the shop.

All the prints are created by her and feature a mix of collages and ink stencils. After choosing five designs, I was deliberating between two similar-looking postcards. She graciously offered me one with her compliments. How nice!

Atelier02-03k64b

Trivia: Chimera in Italian means “delusion” or “fantasy” in English.

Mission accomplished, I continued to wander about.

I soon came across an amazing bookshop, Libreria Acqua Alta (Calle Longa Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5176). Not only is it a book haven, there were also boxes of postcards featuring all things Venice! Photos to come in a future post… 

I bought a few postcards, including two designed by Berlin-based Edition Lidiarte which feature architectural drawings of monuments and buildings in Venice.

DSCF4301k64

When I was back in my fabulous suite in The Gritti Palace, I sat down to write some postcards: Two to my colleagues, to thank them for their generous hospitality; one for my family, inviting them to visit Venice together and outside of summer; one featuring an old image of acqua alta (“high water”, i.e. flooding) around the San Marco Square for AB as we were talking about this peculiar phenomenon.

To end this post, I thought it would be quite fitting to share with you this music video of Beirut’s “Postcards from Italy, featuring vintage film footage. Enjoy!

The times we had
Oh, when the wind would blow with rain and snow
Were not all bad
We put our feet just where they had, had to go
Never to go

The shattered soul
Following close but nearly twice as slow
In my good times
There were always golden rocks to throw
At those who admit defeat too late
Those were our times, those were our times

And I will love to see that day
That day is mine
When she will marry me outside with the willow trees
And play the songs we made
They made me so
And I would love to see that day
Her day was mine

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29 replies on “Postcards from Italy

  1. I have a collection of postcards going back to the early 1900s. These early ones were the property of an elderly family friend, and are a great historical resource. I have simply added to them over the years, and am now thinking of donationg them to the local city museum as my children will probably not appreciate them on my demise.

  2. Ah! I am a Rooster too. So is Mrs. Ha. Venice is unique in so many respects. I think I need to go back. It’s 8 years since I’ve been there. The cards are lovely especially as most people just text or e mail nowadays. Very thoughtful of you. I hope I find lots of book shops in Barcelona in 10 days time. Were getting excited and ready to travel.

    1. Ah hah, you’re a pair of Roosters 😉
      Barcelona would be very nice this time of the year, not too hot nor too chilly. I wish I have some bookshop recommendations to share for BCN… but I have a list places to eat! Mostly tapas/pinxtos/montaditos: http://bit.ly/1o2XnIR
      Look forward to your literary finds in BCN!

  3. I love receiving postcards, not just postcards from abroad but even locally in my backyard. Definitely agree with you that a postcard with words written on the back is more meaningful than something on Facebook or a in text message – the message is written from the heart on a postcard 🙂 I have yet to come across such beautiful handmade postcards like the ones you’ve described above. I’m sure they cost a lot more than what you find in a post office or bookstore, but they do look lovely and are made with a lot of passion.

    1. There’s a shop two doors from Chimera that also sold some rather unique designs, albeit of the usual carnival imagery. Those cost 13-15 euro a piece! The ones I found were just 1-1.5 euro each, which is probably an average price for a postcard in Venice 🙂

      1. Those carnival postcards cost quite a bit! Don’t know if I’ll ever fork out that much for a postcard. With that money I would be able to buy a nice souvenir for a friend. But then again, a postcard with hand-written words always has a personal touch… 🙂

        1. I felt that those postcards were a rip-off. With that money, you could have a few glasses of prosecco!

          It would be quite cool if there’s a digital postcard app that can transpose one’s handwritten note (instead of using a font) onto a physical print that features a photo that was taken on the same trip. Postino (http://www.postinoapp.com/) is the closest I’ve found so far in that there’s a personalised signature. But still not quite it…

  4. I’m the worst in sending postcards: every time I find one I like, I want to selfishly keep it for myself! I like receiving them though, just to add up to the selfishness!… 😀
    BTW you that Chimera is a Greek word? Chímaira [Χίμαιρα], was a monster in Greek mythology with a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail. And it was breathing fire. By some other accounts it had three heads (lion, goat and dragon). With such an impossible description no wonder we still use the word meaning illusion, delusion or fantasy!…

    1. Ah hah, I know what you mean. Sometimes I end up buying two copies of the same postcard and other times, I take photos of them so that I have a memory of them still 🙂

      Oh, I didn’t know that it is the name of a mythical Greek creature. I looked it up online and it looks scary, never mind if it has one or three heads!

  5. Loved the video! And of course the post…I like the way you use the light in your photos…of course light is the single most important thing in photography! For instance, the photo of the architecture postcard..loved the effect! Speaking of postcards, I think its a great idea to write to someone using snail-mail..I just can’t remember the last time I actually wrote a letter, and not typed it…But, then there is the flip side…a good friend of mine, who lives in Paris, wanted to send a new year’s greeting via ordinary mail…I am still waiting for it to arrive! 😀

    1. Thank you and glad you like them! Tricky thing with (sun)light and shadows in the same image is that sometimes one side is either washed out or too dark. Fortunately there’s PS to help balance things out 🙂

      Ah yes, you make a good point about things getting lost in the mail/delivery. Just got to take some chances! Speaking of which, I’ve not heard from anyone to whom I had sent the postcards. I hope they receive it by sometime next week. If not, I shall have to send my (belated) ‘thank you’ notes by email!

  6. Hi Ange! Enjoyed reading this post, as I like to splurge on postcards too in my travels, especially the old, vintage black and white ones. Looking forward to reading more!

  7. I love the old fashion means of communication too and love that you are keeping them alive in an otherwise resistant world. Your photographs and the style of your blog is really charming.:-)

  8. I love postcards! When traveling always buy a few to send, not many only to special people and a few I keep for myself. You are correct, it’s the process important: cards must be appropriate to the people who will receive them.
    One more thing about postcards. I’m in a forum about photography and a group of us makes around twice a year a postcard project, this time we are around 30 and each has postcard printed from one of its own photo and will send them to everyone else. Of course each one will receive 30 different postcard from various countries in the world. Very fun, even the postman (should I write postgirl if she’s a lady?) commented to me how nice is to receive so many different cards!
    robert

    http://thequietphotographer.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/there-are-postcards-on-my-desk/

    1. This is brilliant – I love the idea, how fun! I occasionally think of printing some photos to make into cards/postcards, but think I never got motivated enough to do so and get distracted by other projects. Maybe this could be something to keep in mind for the upcoming year-end holidays…

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