Photos from Florence, Italy during the shutdown

What is happening in Italy today? 

Italians have been under stay at home orders for weeks leaving the streets empty, stores closed and tourists returning home to wait out the pandemic.

As a few of the strict rules are being changed or lifted, Italian cities are seeing a few signs of life.  

The Italian flag is found on many balconies and hung from windows
When have you seen the piazza in front of Santa Croce empty?

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross)
Locals leave food for anyone in need to help themselves

The street along the Arno river towards the Ponte Vecchio
This street is usually packed with tourists   

                    Photos by Sheila Ford, Real Estate Agent and passionate photographer.

CookinPuglia Italian Cooking lessons: live


 Ylenia Sambati

We offer private 2 hour workshops for up to 6 people, via Zoom and Skype in the comfort of your kitchen with every day classes.

The class is designed for everyone who wants to enjoy a cooking class at home,

having a great time learning the authentic Italian cuisine.

The class can be in Italian, English or both languages, informative and easygoing enough that you’ll have fun while you learn.

Your instructor will contact you to select the dishes and provide information and shopping list for the ingredients.

We also provide classes for healthy cooking, teaching how to cook for Awesome Energy, Italian Vegetarian Cooking and many more food programs. As well as helping you cooking, we also share facts and information about health and nutrition.

Classes are run daily, morning and afternoon sessions, based on your taste, necessity and preferred schedule.

Find Italian recipes and cooking basics that will build your confidence whether you’re a complete novice or a kitchen pro, there’s something for everyone at Cookinpuglia Cooking School.

Once you make a reservation, an email is sent to you with the confirmed date of the class, the menu and the shopping list.

You can take as many classes as you like: one or even more per week, all at your own pace.

We will contact you to create a very personalized cooking class.

Gift vouchers: make the perfect gift for your foodie friends!

Look forward to cooking with you in your kitchen. Da Cucina a Cucina

Itailan Stories is bringing you chats with artisans in Italy A great way to pracitice your Italian!

Meet several Italian artisans though the efforts of Italian Stories.  

You may want to practice your Italian at the same time!

From tomorrow 18 April until 24 April we will be live instagram on the profile of Italian Stories, entering the laboratories of 7 amazing artisans who will tell you the secrets, peculiarity and difficulties but above all the beauty of their I work.

Italy: Life in Lockdown

ITALY:  Life in Lockdown 

We have all followed the horror and terror that has engulfed Italy during the past weeks. The heartbreaking news updates are hard to read and harder to watch as many people suffer in Italian hospitals. As of March 10, all of Italy was placed on lockdown. Tourist travel was halted and locals’ movements were restricted. The initial lockdown period was extended and could be adjusted to an even later date.

In order for residents to leave home, they must carry a document describing the reason they are out: grocery, pharmacy, medical appointments, to walk their pets. If approached without proper documentation, people can incur a stiff fine.

A portion of a permission form in Florence

Changes to the way Italians interact with each other and the fabric of their social network are challenged when they can no longer kiss hello, meet their friends for a chat in the piazza, take their daily passeggiata, men no longer meet at the bar or play cards, and women are not in the parks watching  children play. Will this change Italian life after the end of the pandemic?

Everyone must wear a mask when out. In the supermarkets, to keep the number of shoppers at a minimum, shoppers are kept outside until signaled to enter. They are spaced while waiting to check out and only when the shopper at the front of the line is finished and has packed their bag can the next shopper start the process.

Many are facing no work for weeks. The Italian government plans some assistance in addition to the suspension of rents and utility bills during the lockdown, but will it be enough for the many businesses that have been closed?

                                                                   * * * * * * * *

It is heart-warming to see entire neighborhoods out on their balconies singing or even exercising as a neighbor leads. Often neighbors who play musical instruments will offer a concert. While reaching out to colleagues and friends who are in lockdown, I found some have found innovative ways to manage endless days within their homes. Here are just a few of their stories.

Kelly Medford:  Rome

Kelly Medford, a talented Plein-Air artist in Rome, has worked indoors since early March. You usually find Kelly creating a new painting from a street location in any number of Roman neighborhoods or conducting her popular ‘SketchingRome’ tours. At the start of week 4, she described life indoors: “It is not easy. It helps to reach out and be on video chats with friends, send emails, anything we can do to connect. Online meditation and yoga classes have helped too.”

Kelly took it upon herself to reach out to others confined to their homes. She offers free online video drawingclasses several times a week as “a way to help keep everyone’s spirits up.” Each class covers a different skill allowing students the ability to layer each skill on the previous class work. The shutdown has encouraged others on her block to frequent the small food shop in her building. The proprietors wear protective gear and the patrons enter only one-at-a-time to make their purchases. 

One concern we each share is, will Italy be the same after this is over? Kelly is also concerned about the homeless in Rome. If they can no longer beg, how will they have the money for food?  

Marisa Convento, a skilled impiraressa (bead stringer) in Venice, shared photos of her neighborhood near Fondamente Nove. With permission to walk her dog, Toby, she recounts that you meet almost no locals on the deserted calli.  

On the allowable quick excursions to the market or pharmacy you can still hear the church bells peal from multiple bell towers. On a normal day, you would see locals walking, using the vaporetti or meeting friends on walkways now empty and quiet. Home delivery of meals is not that common, but Marisa says, “a few food retailers have started an online service.” Home delivery can be challenging for a city without roads and now without public transportation by vaporetti.

Prontopia is a unique personal travel app that connects travelers with locals who can assist them during their stay. CEO and Founder Shannon Kenny launched Prontopia in April of 2017. The service is available in four Italian cities, Barcelona, Spain, and Santa Barbara, CA. 

Once Italy announced that all residents must stay at home, Prontopia in Venice realized the problem this would be for some elderly residents or others who could not easily navigate a city with no transportation options.

Prontopia stepped up with a program to help deliver medicine, supplies and groceries as well as run errands or even walk the family dog. Ilaria Nardone, Prontopia manager for Europe, coordinates matching a Prontopia member with anyone requesting assistance.

To make it even easier, Prontopia is providing a free service to elderly for helping with grocery shopping, running errands and even walking the dog.    The service will be free for anyone over 65 years of age and for people with chronic illnesses until the end of the crisis.  Venice group Generazione 90 has joined with Prontopia to assist during the emergency. 

About 50 households, some who have signed up for regular service, are part of this special program.   
Contact for all details

Rome offers Surprises: You just have to search

Basilica di Santa Prassede, Rome
a photo review of a glittering interior

Via di Santa Prassede, 9

I spend my weeks Home to Italy, walking the side streets, neighborhoods, cemeteries and markets
I discover in each part of the city I explore.   Often a small, plain entrance can offer an amazing surprise and on this day I was not disappointed.

Walking away from the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore on Via Merulana take the short parallel street Via di Santa. The side entrance (photo above) is easy to miss.  

Since many Italian churches welcome visitors during the hours they are open I followed a few locals  and visitors inside expecting the usual rows of seats and dark alcoves along the sides.

Greeted by the gleam of thousands of mosaic pieces you crane your neck to try to see everything.
There is no tour guide at the entrance but you can purchase on the honor system, a brief brochure within the church.

Ceiling of the Saint Zeno chapel

The Interior reminded me of the mosaic work in Santa Maria Trastevere, Rome.  Impossible to estimate the number of tiles used even in one picture but in an entire ceiling it may be many thousands.  The stunning pictorials and patterns instead of frescoes or oil paintings is a startling change from the other churches in the city.

Sadly I arrived shortly before the church closed for lunch!   
On my next trip to Rome I shall return with more of the church history and information on each of the stunning mosaic scenes.   You may find that the art is captivating, the clarity of the figures change as you walk closer.  
For more details see the following from Wikipedia:

A church near this site was present since the fifth century, but the church in its current place and general layout was commissioned by Pope Hadrian I around the year 780 to house the relics (bones) of Saint Praxedes (Italian: S. Prassede) and Saint Pudentiana (Italian: S. Pudenziana), the daughters of Saint Pudens, traditionally St. Peter‘s first Christian convert in Rome.” 
photo from Wikapedia 
“The church was built atop of the remains of a 4th-century ancient Roman Thermae, privately owned by the family of Pudentiana, and called Terme di Novato.     The two female saints were murdered for providing Christian burial for early martyrs in defiance of Roman law. The basilica was enlarged and decorated by Pope Paschal I in c. 822.
Pope Paschal, who reigned 817-824, was at the forefront of the Carolingian Renaissance started and advocated by the emperor Charlemagne. They desired to get back to the foundations of Christianity theologically and artistically. Paschal, thus, began two, linked, ambitious programs: the recovery of martyrs’ bones from the catacombs of Rome and an almost unprecedented church building campaign. Paschal dug up numerous skeletons and transplanted them to this church. The Titulus S. Praxedis was established by Pope Evaristus, around 112.
The inscriptions found in Santa Prassede, a valuable source illustrating the history of the church, have been collected and published by Vincenzo Forcella.
The church contains the oratory of San Zenone.
The church provided the inspiration for Robert Browning‘s poem “The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church.”

Pugatory: a small museum to the Souls in Purgatory

Burned images, one of the exhibits of contact with souls in purgatory

Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory

   A new addition to on my list of experiences that tourists may never visit

Located in the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio a small Roman church just past the Castel Sant’ Angelo is a one room ‘museum’ to the Souls in Purgatory.

A small mention in Where Traveler magazine peaked my interest to visit this museum that is off the beaten path 
in Rome.

Visiting a museum devoted to physical evidence of possible contact with the souls who ‘await entry into heaven, offered a

glimpse into the world beyond the end of this life and a little of the supernatural.

Exterior church photo from Wikipedia

You may walk past Chiesa del Sacro Curore del Suffagio if you are not looking carefully.    Standing across the street you can appreciate the lovely exterior.

The interior is small and during my visit, very quiet and not well lit.     The room housing the artifacts is off the right aisle and towards the alter.   Although there was an employee at a desk in this area, no information was offered.  Details for this post is attributed to online sources.

The ‘museum’ is a small, narrow room with photos or original examples of contact with souls in purgatory.  The
burn mark photos online are clearer without the glare from a flash.

burn finger prints      

“Let us pray for the souls in purgatory”, a remembered part of general prayers during mass.  Prayers from those still on earth are designed to hasten the assent to heaven for souls atoning for sins.  “Apparently purgatory is not mentioned in the bible although All Soul’s day is celebrated each year on November 2nd.”  Dating from the 11th century, the concept of a holding area for souls prior to going to heaven, was perhaps an encouragement to live a good life so you would go directly to heaven.  

Photo credit: Margaret Galitzin      F

The tangible exhibits of ‘messages from beyond the grave’ allows your imagination to explore the possibility of the life beyond…..
Who started the collection:                 

French priest Fr. Victor Jouet is credited with his mission to find physical proof of the existence of purgatory and to establish this ‘purgatorial museum’ in 1917.  more information.                                                

The small number of exhibits are an assortment of ‘burned’ prayer books, a table top, clothing and other items that might substantiate the belief that souls are attempting to contact loved ones. click

There is a detailed description of 10 exhibits in an article titled Holy Souls, no author listed.  Find photos and descriptions here.

Several of the more striking descriptions are 7a (photo at top of this page) ascribed to be the hand print of the deceased Fr Panzini left on November 1, 1731 on the table used by Mother Isabella Fornari, abbess of the Poor Clares of the Monastery of St. Francis in Todi.
Exhibit 9 claims to be the finger  prints of Joseph Schitz (deceased) after touching the prayer book of his brother George on December 21, 1838.  

Purgatory may be a mystery of faith.   Where is it located?  How long must we remain there?
Or is this purgatory and we are judged on how we live our lives?

Museum is free but donations are welcome.  

Venice: roof top views

Exploring Italian cities, villages and fortified towns    
Walking the lanes and streets of charming Italian villages or the larger avenues of major Italian cities, I can experience Italian lifestyle from ground level.  To appreciate the scope of the city and the surrounding countryside you must climb.    

While Italian towns usually have a major church, some include a bell tower, other towns may have the remains of a fortress with surviving watch towers that offer a panoramic view from above the roof tops.   

Ground views of a city are charming.

Climbing a tower can afford a 360 degree view that is often obscured when exploring from ground level where the streets may wind around natural contours.

Tourists may recognize the leaning tower in Pisa, Giotto’s tower in Florence, the roof of Saint Peters‘ in Rome, Milan’s cathedral roof top and St Mark’s Campanile in Venice. 

Lines form early to visit the Campanile in St. Marks square

To avoid the line to enter the Venice Campanile, there are other options that are open to the public and offer a ‘view’.

View of the Grand Canal you don’t see from the water

A View of the Grand Canal for Free:
The roof top view overlooking the grand canal from the top of the former post office near the Rialto bridge,  Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, (DFS) is one option.  Centrally located and free (as of my visit in 2018) you reach the roof via an elevator!

View from a vaporetto on the Grand Canal  

I must have passed this multi storied building many times without realizing it had been transformed into a unique shopping experience.

On-line historic data dates the building from 1228 and rebuilt in the 1500’s after a fire.   The four story building surrounds an inner courtyard, which now has a glass ceiling.  An original fireplace and a well can be found on the first floor.  

Striking interior with open view of all 4 floors

The DFS store brochure and added more details on the buildings’ past.  Over the centuries the building was a palace, warehouse and later a market.   The ground floor water access would have given the building easy access to the merchants who traded here.  Higher floors were apartments for merchant families..
Later the building was used as a post office.

The four story building surrounds an inner courtyard which now has a glass ceiling.  Be sure to look UP!

The store is filled with wonderful high end fashion items, cosmetics and gift ideas.   Enticing displays along the wide corridors on each floor only suggest what additional items are found in the rooms  of designer fashions beyond.    Black suited sales staff are close by to assist all shoppers.  

All of the sales staff I met spoke English and were helpful and attentive even if you do not make a purchase.    You must ask for an English version of the free brochure, available at the information desk.  

The large, open space on the first floor originally was a courtyard with access to the canal via the large arched doorways.

Today the first floor offers a restaurant with table service as well as the amazing view up to the top floor.     There is a small coffee/cake location on one side of the atrium.  Tables surrounding the restaurant are filled with unique and colorful gift items or souvenirs. 

But I was here to visit the roof top deck.  
The elevators at the back of the store take you up to the 4th floor. 
Visits to the terrace are free but are limited to 15 minutes.   The number of visitors for each time slot are controlled and guests must reserve a time online or at the computer stations on the 4th floor.  Bring your confirmation with you on your phone or a printed copy.

You wait for your assigned time to visit the roof here in the events space.

There was a large group waiting in the events area prior to being allowed on the terrace.  The line moved quickly to climb up to the terrace.   After a few minutes there were breaks in the crowd taking selfies, so others could finally enjoy the novel view.  

There is a 360 view of the roof tops in the city and with the use of a telephoto lens or later photo enlarging, you can see details of many of the other buildings in the city.


If your trip does not allow enough time to book a terrace visit, there are some hotels, palaces and museums that can also offer great views as well as a peek into what life was like hundreds of years ago.   Let me know what your favorites are.

Although there are many towers listed for Venice, not all of them allow visitors.  Check online to be sure they currently 
allow visitors and what the entrance fee may be:

Scala del Bovolo, stairway to heaven, is off Campo Manin.    Winding your way to the top of the building exposes more and more of the city until you have a view of rooftops and churches as well as St. Mark’s Campanile.   This is an easy climb, one of my favorite experiences.

My view from the top

The tower of San Giorgio Maggiore offers a view towards San Marco and the waterfront of Venice.  You will find fewer tourists on this island and an excellent way to avoid the line at San Marco.
This is an active bell tower, you may wish to time your climb accordingly.   

The view from near St. Marks, across to the church

The island of Torcellohas a tower in the small central square.  
Reid’s Italy* has a good description of this tiny island.  Always check online for current times the tower may be open.

Major bridges crossing the Grand Canal can offer a view without the climb.   The top of the Accademia bridge and the Rialto bridge are popular photo stops,  but often the crowds do not let you linger very long.  The newer (2008) Ponte della Constituzione or Ponte di Calatrava a Venezia linking Piazza Roma and the Ponte degli Scalze in front of the train station.  The latter is the first opportunity for tourists to experience the sweeping view of the canal after arriving by train.

So much to see. Only a few days in Venice is never enough time.

Most data is found on Wikipedia and not guaranteed by this site, be sure to check times and prices for any site mentioned here.

Although I appreciate your comments, promotional links will not be posted.    

If you need a response leave your email address.

For international visitors, please send comments translated to English.

Venice: What do gondoliers wear on their feet?

What do gondoliers wear on their feet?   

When you think of Venice, the first thought may be the iconic gondola ride along the grand canal or on one of the quiet canals traversing the many islands that make up this city.   .  

You can enjoy watching the approximate 400  glossy black gondolas silently passing from the top of a bridge and on occasionally hear the echo of a gondolier serenade.

Gondoliers dress in the official ‘uniform’ of navy or red striped shirts, dark pants and often the iconic straw boater, according to Venice Insider.  An official clothing store at the foot of the Rialto bridge, Emillio Ceccato,   is where you can purchase authentic items.   When a number of gondoliers are clustered together, sight site is photo worthy!

You can usually find a group of gondoliers at one of the ‘gondola stations’ throughout Venice, waiting for the next passenger.  

Gondola Slippers:
On an earlier visit to Venice, Elizabeth Rainer, one of the three contributors to ‘My Pretty Venice’ a guide to finding Venice artisans and experiences (ISBN-10: 8873017746), introduced me to several of the artisans/shops included in the guide.  One of our stops was near the Rialto Bridge, S. Polo, # 60, to learn about the shoes sometimes called gondolier slippers or le furlane.                                                

My guide today, Elizabeth Rainer,
 a Venice expert


S. Polo, 60   Rialto, Venice


When you enter this compact store, you are assailed by the riot of color from the floor to almost ceiling, cubicles holding furlane in linen, velvet and some novelty fabrics.  

Furlane in many colors and styles

Finding limited information about le furlane on line, some of the history is described on the web site for Piede a Terre.   The following is from parts of their web site:   

‘As a result of the poverty and lack of employment just after WW II, the area of Friuli, north of Venice, began recycling old bicycle tires and jute sacks formerly used for seeds and grains.    The tire soles were waterproof and hard wearing.   The shoes evolved as other fabrics from old clothes and even rags were used for the uppers.’   

The simple slipper has expanded to wonderful fashion footwear

‘Hand made by women in the area, they were perhaps the first recycled products!    The rubber soles proved long wearing, good for a sometimes wet surface and could protect the finish of a gondola, which is a very expensive boat.’ 

It is not difficult to imagine women sitting in their homes homes producing slippers and using the proceeds from the sale of this simple product to supplement the family’s income. 

Today you can find the slippers in several styles and many fabrics or bring your own fabric to have a pair custom made.   On this return trip to Venice I wanted to experience a pair of furlane.    I passed on a store off the main tourist route, selling a lovely selection because they were not made in Italy.     

Once I revisited Piede a Terre the problem was making a choice:  first the style, then the fabric and finally the color.    Furlane are made for men and children as well, so you might find all your gifts in one location.

A velvet slipper
Do gondoliers still use furlane?   

My search resulted in shoe-less, sneakers or trainers as you may call them and dress shoes, but I did not find any furlane.   Have you seen a gondolier wearing furlane? 

This gondolier chose to work in socks!

During my online search, I did find many things about  gondolas and gondoliers.  
Continue to read.

Gondolashave been plying the waters around Venice for centuries.   After the introduction of the faster, motorized vaporetto, the need to use a gondola to travel the canals was reduced.   There may still be some privately owned gondolas (Peggy Guggenheim enjoyed a private boat and must have had her own boatman) but you find most of the 400 + remaining gondolas offering the unique experience to visitors. 

If you are brave enough to cross the grand canal standing up in a Traghetto with several other passengers, your experience may be somewhat different.    Not on my list of travel experiences.

A traghetto crossing the grand canal.   Credit: images

To maintain and repair the working gondolas in Venice, there are a few remaining squeri (boat yards).   New gondolas are built by hand and can take approximately 2 months to construct, involving 8 different types of wood and assembling over 200 pieces! (see     

Perhaps the best know boat yard is the squero di San Trovaso, not far from St Marks square.   


You can view the squero from across the canal.   If you are there at the right time you  may see a boat returning to the water after a repair.  click here  

How to obtain a license as a gondolier,  a short overview, far more information and details are available online.

The career of gondolier is usually handed down from father to son over the years.
First, a candidate must pass tests for rowing and swimming before continuing to the formal gondoliere school, a course lasting up to 18 months.   Gondoliers must know the history and geography of Venice as well as speak sufficient English.  

Exams must be passed before a student advances to a substitute gondolier assigned up to a year as a traghetti di parada, the cross canal passenger boats.  

Gondoliers had been a male only profession until 2010 when Giorgia Boscolo, the daughter of a gondolier,  passed the exam.   Again Venice Insider was my source for this information but several other articles have been published.    Chiara Curto has also been authorized to use a sandolo:  smaller and flatter than a Venetian row boat.

When you visit Venice try to notice the unique design of the asymmetrical gondola and how the gondolier stands to one side.   With practiced strokes the boatman can maneuver the 35+ foot long gondola around corners, around other boats and close to a stairway to embark passengers.  

A close up look at other gondolas:

A boat serves as a perfect neighborhood fruit and vegetable stall.   The locals stop by daily.

Perhaps the best known book store in Venice is Liberia Acqua Alta where a gondola is the center piece.

There is so much more on the history of Venetian gondolas so be sure to do an online search to learn more.

Although I appreciate your comments, promotional links will not be posted.    

If you need a response leave your email address.

For international visitors, please send comments translated to English.

All photos unless otherwise credited are the property of Home to Italy

Italy: Tivoli Villa d’Este in the rain

Traveling does not always have sunny days…………….

Often your schedule may not be that flexible or allow you to ‘go another day’.  You may plan a museum day if the forecast is rain 
unless it is the only day you can visit the famous garden in Tivoli Italy.

My day to see Tivoli, after 5 years of saying ‘I need to go there’, was  during a heavy rain storm in Rome.

It is an easy train ride from either Termini train station or Triburtina and takes approximately an hour.  No other passengers clutching tour books or maps, just a few day shoppers and lots of students.

From the train station to the town center

Signage to the villa is sparse.  After you exit the train station take the bridge across the river and head uphill.    Having no map and not finding the tourist office, I used google maps and as usual was taken on a wild ride.   However, I did see some charming parts of the town that will have me returning for another visit when it is not raining!   

Trento Square, 5, Tivoli

The ticket office  hall leads you to the courtyard.  On the opposite side you will find a small room to store bags/coats etc while you hike the garden.   The friendly woman behind the counter did not ask for any fee as I took the key from the locker I had put my back pack in.

She reminded me the closing time had changed since this was the first week of daylight savings and we had a chat about reading.   Since I speak very limited Italian it was very kind of her to spend any time chatting but she enthusiastically told me how much she enjoyed the author she was reading.     The small joys of interacting with Italians.

There was limited daylight left so I opted to spend my time exploring the gardens and left the massive villa for another day.
You must go to the ground floor (basement) to access the garden.
There are several verandas and patios off the villa that offer a view of the treetops and some of the water art.   

Photos of some interior rooms are at the end of this post

With no directions on which exit to use I took the elevator to a lower floor where I found a door that led to the stone terrace and more flights of stairs to lower parts of the garden.   

There are fountains everywhere!  There is rushing water playing music whenever you near a fountain.   The gardens go on but I may have only seen a small portion after a few hours.    Navigating the slippery steps and landscaped inclines became an effort after a few hours in the downpour.    The sound of all the rushing water battled with the many fountains and waterfalls.   

The hundred fountains stretched across the front of the villa.

The Hundred Fountains

Great descriptions of the garden features and the villa’s history can be found at Wikipedia.  

                   There were only a few other visitors in the gardens.

                                   Fountains and water falls competed with the downpour.

                 A few photos from the empty interior rooms. 

On my next trip I shall search for a ‘tour book’ that will describe the interior rooms and the garden in more detail.

Although I appreciate your comments, promotional links will not be posted.    

If you need a response leave your email address.

For international visitors, please send comments translated to English.

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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