Rome: taking the Green Tube instead of the bus

Not a bus, Not a train:   the Green metal tubes that can take you around Rome without a tourist in sight………………..TRAMS

You can find the older green trans outside the Termini station

   Rome:  This trip Home to Italy found me at a WWII Nazi interrogation center, Mussolini’s rented home during the war and my first visit to a catacomb.   There were still many traditional as well as unique places in Rome I had not visited. 

After my great experience with Prontopia in Venice and Florence I requested a local to help me to explore the city by tram.

Porta Maggiore

Painting by expat artist Kelly Medford 

There are a number of options for traveling from one part of Rome to another: metro, the extensive bus system, taxis and walking (for me up to 5 miles).  

Available in most major cities, the Hop on Hop off bus can take you near most of the major sites.  I avoid the bus unless I know the number of stops to my destination or find a bus that terminates at my destination.   Too difficult from a crowded bus to see the street signs to prepare to exit a crowded bus calling out permesso!

But the green metal trams that you find outside the Termini, train station, have been a mystery and on this trip I planned a tram adventure.    “The history of trams in Rome dates from 1877 with horse drawn trams.  Electric trams followed and by 1905 there were 17 tram lines.”1    The same Wikipedia article lists details of the numbered tram routes to identify the start and end of the route.

Bess, my Prontopia local in Rome, be sure to request Bess

Requesting to meet a local:
What a fortunate match to have Bess available for my booking.  A long time resident of Rome, Bess is an expat who can answer any of your questions and quickly understand how to best assist you with your visit to Rome.     

Since it was already dark when Bess met me at my hotel (you pre-arrange where to meet your local) we decided to walk/talk and have an apperotivo so I could spread out my well worn paper map and ask about the tram routes that would show me parts of Rome that tourists might never find.

Bess quickly gave me the web site and app (there is always an app) for the tram routes.    What the web site would not offer was information from a local on which tram would take me to a local market, a neighborhood that tourists don’t explore and an alternatives for traveling around Rome.

I always bring a paper map after Google maps took 2 hrs to send me to the wrong location and then the battery died

The next day with a copy of the tram route map I started my adventure with the route from termini to Borghese Gardens and at the Vatican.    Since it was not rush hour I had a seat for the entire trip.  Tip:  sit on the right side of the tram to be able to read the tram stop signs so you can track your route.   Warning, this is a slow ride but totally enjoyable.

The metal cars clank on rails embedded in the pavement with metal antenna  tethered to the electric wires overhead.  
As pedestrians run in front of a tram trying to avoid waiting for them to disgorge passengers and take on more, the warning bell sounds reminding me of a kiddie ride at an amusement park.

A tram travels more slowly than the bus and allows you to view the street scenes you pass that are not listed in a tour book.  In the older tram I felt as if I were in perhaps the 1950’s.   You have a glimpse from your window of life in Rome and if you have the inclination you can hop off and explore.   I used a multi day transportation ticket that was good for trams, buses and the metro.   Another piece of information Bess shared with me.

My second day ‘traming’ was not as successful.   I traveled to one of the markets Bess suggested and planned on continuing toTrastevere.   Not paying enough attention I took the tram in the wrong direction.   Not a disaster since you can disembark and take the correct tram.   I also took the tram to the biggest cemetery in Rome, Cimitera del Verano.  FYI returning to Termini required a change of trams just as the commuters started to fill the cars.  But a trip to the cemetery is well worth the effort and you can walk from the Termini as well.  The tram drivers are totally separated from the passengers so there is no opportunity to ask for assistance.  Ticket validation machines are inside each car.

Other tram options:
I saw online there may be companies offering evening tram tours that include dinner and one that offers Jazz as well! and  I do not represent either company and can not confirm tours are still available.

I must thank Prontopia for inviting me to use their services for Rome.   I shall return to explore other parts Italy with them soon.

1. Wickipedia, Trams in Rome

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Published by Lee Laurino

A traveler not a tourist, searching for experiences not in travel books. Solo traveler who travels as long and far as possible sharing photos of the people and places I discover

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