Locating Vatican Post Office Boxes

Marvin Lanahan - mlanahan404@comcast.net

Over the years Vatican Notes has published the location of Vatican postal boxes. In earlier Vatican Notes articles there were some postmark differences reported by mailings sent from different locations (see references). In September 2022, I got the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Vatican City. So, I set two objectives. First, I wanted to find as many Vatican post box locations as possible. Second, I wanted to determine if the Vatican Post Office uses different postmarks to distinguish mailing locations from each of the postal boxes.

It would seem logical to start this investigation at the Vatican Central Post Office. However, when I attempted to go to the Central Post Office I learned that not everyone, which includes me, is not allowed access to that building or even to walk down that street. (separate story - see link https://vaticanstamps.org/cms/vslview.php?id=1027). However, I did learn that there was at least one postal box on the street where the Central Post Office building is located, even if I am not allowed to use it.

Easier to find was the trailer post office branch in St. Peter's square next to the colonnade. This is the easiest location in Vatican City to purchase stamps and mail postcards. Outside the post office trailer, there was one postal box that anyone can use.

The second post office sales location found was close to St. Peter's Basilica and can be easily spotted when exiting the basilica. On the left side of St. Peter's Basilica, there are two Vatican postal boxes mounted on the building wall, each side of a doorway. I went inside the doorway and found a post office branch counter (to the right) and a gift shop (to the left). There was also a nice table area for writing postcards.

The third post office sales location I found was in the Vatican Museum next to the Philatelic and Numismatic Museum (around the corner from the top of the Benelli staircase). Here I found two wooden Vatican Postal boxes located next to the sales counter.

The last Vatican Postal box that I found was at the exit door of the Vatican Museum at the base of the Benelli staircase.

The total count of postal boxes I found during my visit to Vatican City was seven. The picture of the Central Post Office found in the General Guide To The Vatican City shows two postal boxes on the outside of the building. I was not allowed to walk down the street and get confirmation regarding anything at the Central Post Office. Also, I did not go to the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basicili and look for a postal sales office. I have heard there is a sales office there, but have never been able to verify this. It is not listed in the guidebook. There are bound to be other postal boxes around Vatican City that I do not know about. If you have any additional information or pictures about any Vatican City postal box, please email your information to me.

Vatican Postal Boxes Found:
1 - Central Post Office
2 - St. Peter's Square Trailer - at exit door
3 - Outside Gift Shop - Left of St. Peter's (exit side)
4 - Outside Gift Shop - Left of St. Peter's (exit side)
5 - Vatican Museum - Next to Postal Sales Counter
6 - Vatican Museum - Next to Postal Sales Counter
7 - Vatican Museum - Next to the exit door

To determine if the Vatican Post Office uses different postmarks to distinguish mailing locations from each of the postal boxes I mailed myself several postcards and envelopes from each location. About two weeks after the mailing and when returning home, I had my answer in my mailbox. All postcards and envelopes have the same type of postmark. It is hard to see the date and time in the circle of each postmark but I do not think there are any other distinguishing location markings to be found. I should have used a lighter-colored stamp to better identify the postmark. Also, perhaps I might have been able to have asked the Vatican postal folks for a hand-canceled postmark at each of the sales locations but I did not think of that at the time. Now I have some valid reasons, at least from a stamp collector's viewpoint, to want to make another trip to Vatican City.

• Phinney, Rev. H. A., The Number In The Moon (Part 2), Vatican Notes, Nov/Dec 1963, Volume XII, No. 3, page 7
• Rundqvist, Neils, A Philatelic Day In Rome and Everyday Vatican Holy Year Cancellations, Vatican Notes,Sept/Oct 1975, Volume XXIV, No. 2, pages 4-5
• Fonti, Daniela Modern Districts, Ancient Finds General Guide To The Vatican City, Jaca Book, First English edition 2012