History & rituals. Mahler’s complaints to his wife and his marriage decided by letter: is there (still) mail for us?

from Roberta Scorranese

Apollinaire found a wife thus, Buzzati was courted. The first missive by air left with a flight from Turin to Rome in 1917: 160 years after the birth of the delivery service in Italy, many things have changed. Others don’t

We no longer write letters or postcards, real. Just as it is true that we leave each other for nothing, for a beautiful Noemi who is passing by. But, if you think about it, writing letters and loving are a similar exercise, which requires one thing above all: time. It takes time to find writing paper, just as it takes time to settle a grudge. Time and a steady hand to express a concept, time and a firm character to stay in a marriage. The time to wait for a letter, without immediate answers and blue ticks on the phone. Time for reading, time for reflection, time to get to the nearest letterbox. Like the time of forgiveness, of the passing of a crisis. also for this reason that we do not write to each other anymore? Why do we love differently?


In the year in which Poste Italiane turns 160 years old, the trap of insidious nostalgia, but there is no need. Writing by hand is now the prerogative of very few, a typewritten letter (almost) no longer exists and one composed on the computer is sad. The truth is that we have never written so much in any historical period (think of the daily mass of emails, messages, posts, Instagram captions and tuts) but in another writing. And the “black and white” one, testified by these photos, entered the bittersweet repertoire of vintage. Yet, as evidenced by that magical cave that the historical archive of Corriere della Seraa part of our life that has grown up with letters and the Italian post office.

Turin-Rome and back: in flight

What a life our life would have been without Lieutenant Mario de Bernardi, an Air Force pilot who carried the first air mail document on 17 May 1917? That day, the Italian post office put the pink 25-cent express on sale, with the overwriting Turin-Rome Rome-Turin Airmail Experiment. What, on the other hand, is considered the first Italian stamp, after the unification of Italy in 1861, was put into circulation on February 24, 1862: it was the 10 centesimi bistro with the effigy of Vittorio Emanuele II. And we wrote a lot. In 1959, an article published in the via Solferino newspaper informs us that about seventy million a day is spent on postage stamps in Milan and its province.: seventy million for letters, postcards, postcards, express and parcel postage stamps.

Find a husband thanks to the postman

By letter she found herself a husband. And also a wife: just think that the gunner-poet Guillaume Apollinaire sent a postcard to a girl he met four months earlier on the train. Betrothal and marriage were established by letter. The poet Paul Celan and his wife, the painter Gisle Lestrange, exchanged letters continuously for twenty years. Rosellina Archintoa publisher who, with the brand that bears his name, has published the most famous correspondences of writers and artists, remembers how boring Mahler was in the letters he sent to his wife: He only talked about his hemorrhoids!. Still, we wrote to each other. Much. Always on Corriere della Sera, Dino Buzzati tells of a young admirer who, after writing to him, goes to visit him at the newspaper, leaving him speechless for his beauty. There will be no sequel to that meeting: power of ink. Illusion, perhaps.

Farewells and promises brought by a postage stamp

To a stamp we have entrusted family affairs, farewells, reconciliations, declarations. And what stamps. The post office commemorated art, literature, research. The strangest stamp? The two hundred lire one issued by San Marino on the occasion of the Year of Rheumatism. And the archives also give us back jokes, jokes, jokes: once a painter mocked the American post office by printing a stamp that reproduced a painting of him. that we spent so much time. To write, as if to look for the right paper or the bizarre stamp. There is a famous photographer, Franco Fontana, now 88, who still enjoys sending postcards with the most original stamps. And the newspapers still write, and how: on CourierGian Giacomo Schiavi has recently told the story of the reader who sent two thousand letters (one a day) in two thousand envelopes and as many postage stamps with regular postmark, handwriting, uncertain and somewhat elementary handwriting.

The etiquette of the missives and second thoughts

Writing by hand makes you think better, activates important areas of the brain: neurology specialists say so, but etiquette also says so. A letter in a traditional envelope but written on the computer unwatchable. It was 2000 when, in the cultural pages of Courier, Sebastiano Vassalli reflected on the consequences of the automatic corrector (still little known at the time). The title was: But The Computer Will Eliminate Author Correction. A brilliant reflection: the beauty of the letters and postcards was also the error, the cancellation, the rethinking, as the critics say. And, possibly, write without too many capital letters: Personally, if I were a tyrant, I would set a fine of one thousand lire for each capital letter that is not strictly necessary or necessary.. So he wrote in the Courier Dino Buzzati. He was running in the year 1958.

September 11, 2022 (change September 11, 2022 | 10:44)

History & rituals. Mahler’s complaints to his wife and his marriage decided by letter: is there (still) mail for us?