Postmarks arouse my curiosity…
This small group of seven folded letter sheets were all sent just after the formation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Prior to that date all the Italian States, including Lombardy-Venetia, the Duchy of Modena, Kingdom of Sicily, Papal States and others had issued their own stamps from the early 1850s. The first Italian country stamp was a provisional issued in 1861 and is quite scarce. But it was followed by a regular issue in late 1863 and, by comparison to the provisionals, most values issued can be purchased for pennies. So why, as they were so common, were postage stamps not applied to these folded letter sheets? Perhaps the practice was still in its infancy? Actually I think the answer is that these items could have been local government mail and perhaps sent ‘post free’ through the system… but I’m open to suggestions!
Going through the town postmarks in alphabetical order, Ascoli is a town in the Marche region of Italy, and the letter was sent to Montalato, a municipality within the province of Ascoli Piceno, lying at the confluence of two rivers and surrounded on three sides by mountains. Ascoli was founded several centuries before Rome, and many of the buildings in the central historical part of the city are built using marble called travertino… and looks a beautiful city from photos on the internet.
Castelbuono has a ‘good castle’, as its name implies, and is situated in the metropolitan area of Palermo which is the capital of Sicily and noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy. Palermo was founded in 734 BC by the Phoenicians who originally gave it the name Ziz, meaning flower. Its rich history, including Roman, Germanic Vandal, Arab, Spanish and even Austrian rule gave the city a unique history, culture and architecture.
Chieti, 200 kilometres (124 miles) north-east of Rome, in the Abruzzo region, is amongst the most ancient of Italian cities and, according to mythological legends, was founded in 1181 B.C. by the Homeric Greek hero Achilles and was named in honour of his mother, Thetis. This letter was mailed to the nearby small town of Pizzoferrato.
Corlone is a Sicilian town in the greater metropolitan area of Palermo… and who doesn’t know its connection with notorious Mafia, or at least “The Godfather” movie!
Lercara, also in Sicily, some 45 kilometres southeast of Palermo and an important sulphur mining centre.
Orbatello is situated on the Italian Tuscan coast and is home to an important Nature Reserve. The letter sent from here was addressed to Archidosso, also in Tuscany, with a rich mediaeval history.
And finally, no pun intended, Termini, which is also within the metropolitan region of Palermo, in Sicily. Populated since prehistoric times, its documented history begins in 409 BC after the second battle of Himera involving the attacking Carthaginian army, and more recently, between 1970 and 2011, as the location for a Fiat car factory where the 126, Panda, Punto and for a time the Lancia Ypsilon were manufactured.
Now I mention these places, with links, because they intrigue me and make me want to visit, walk around, learn a little lingo, certainly wine and dine locally, and of course page after page in a sketchbook, click-click-click my camera’s shutter, and sit in the sun in every cobbled market square at a café table… it’s strange what a few previously unknown town postmarks on old envelopes from a hundred and fifty years ago can do to one’s imagination… and possible travel plans!
Image + words © Ed Buziak 2018.
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