That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.

This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Buses, Mercedes Benz and the Popemobile

* if you're here to read about Rome's bus (and/or other public transportation) services, you can skip straight to "more after the jump".

When Americans think of Mercedes Benz, we tend to think of luxury cars for the rich and privileged. We don't normally think of station wagons or vans or commercial trucks or ... buses. Or is that just me? On my very first visit to  Italy, I arrived in Milan where some Italian friends were waiting to drive me to my hotel. I was very tired and very sleepy, so when I saw their car (a station wagon type model) and then the Mercedes Benz hood ornament, I didn't make much of it. It was a long drive and I think I fell asleep, wondering about the inconsistency of a station wagon being a Mer-che-dez ("ch" as in cheese or Che Guevara). 

I didn't think too much of it again. That is, not until I came to live in Italy and saw Mercedes Benz just about everywhere. Everywhere, except in the form of fine luxury passenger cars, unless, of course, you count the bullet proof Popemobile. But I digress. It turns out Mercedes Benz makes all kinds of practical motor vehicles, from the ones most Americans are familiar with to the not so familiar. Did you know that most of our public buses, here in Italy, are Mercedes Benz-es? Yes, indeed. The Italians sure know how to ride in style.

ridin' in style - Mercedes Benz yo !!
waiting for my Benz 

More after the jump ... 

Public transportation, in the form of buses is a very handy thing. In the city center the buses run fairly well and on time. If you're not used to crowds, being uncomfortably close to perfect strangers or if you're unable to control your gag reflex when near bad smells - buses in Rome's center is not for you, but no matter, what other options do you have? I try my best to avoid the buses there, but sometimes, it's the absolute only way to get from point A to point B. Outside the center, the buses usually contain a more reasonable number of passengers, and depending on the time of day it's relatively pleasant. In the early mornings, Italians of all ages going to school or work; mornings to early afternoons, mostly the elderly visiting markets and health clinics; afternoon, a loud and boisterous wave of middle and high school students returning from school; late afternoon to evenings, the general public. This, of course is in the peripheries. In Rome's center, like I was saying before, the buses are just plain crowded with all ages (and  subsequent odors) at all times. The only draw back, well, not the only drawback, but the biggest drawback is that in the peripheries, the buses are rarely on time. Don't be surprised if every bus you need is the only bus to never arrive while you watch in awe and wonder as everyone else's bus arrives punctually and sometimes in pairs. That's just the law of whatever-can-go-wrong-for-you-while-whatever-can-go-right-for-others-will at work. Now, enough with my subjective and biased opinions and on to the fair impartial facts of Rome's bus and other transportation services.

Rome's bus lines are run by ATAC S.p.A and here's their site in English.

Regular one way BIT bus tickets can be purchased in many Tabacchiera (Tobacco shops easily identified by a rectangular "T" hanging outside their businesses, as shown, right), in some bars, at periodical shops and in some cases there is a ticket distributor directly on the bus (but I wouldn't count on it - even if the bus has one, it is not guaranteed to be in working order). DO NOT expect the bus driver to give you a ticket or help you in any other way regarding the purchase of a ticket. He's there to drive the bus ... one handed ... while talking on his mobile ... ignoring requests from teetering passengers, holding on for dear life to bars and pulleys and seats, to please cease from making jerky stops and sharp turns which make old and young alike fall down and crush other passengers (true story ... well, I exaggerate, I wasn't "crushed", but it did hurt an awful lot to have a man's open palm come crashing down onto my chest, thereby knocking the wind out of my poor and traumatized lungs). You can also purchase tickets at Metro/Subway terminals from Ticket Machines, as shown, left. (right click and open a new window/tab to see a larger image)

This BIT ticket costs 1 euro and is good for all public transportation (train, subway, tram, bus) and it's valid up to 75 minutes from the time of first validation. Now, why would you need such a long validation time for a one way bus ride? Simple. Because you can then use this same ticket to ride the subway, either one of the lines (A or B) or both if necessary, as long as you use the ticket within 75 minutes of your first validation and you don't leave the turnstiles. I believe it should work the other way round, too, as in, you validate your ticket, first, at the metro/subway stop, ride the car, get off, leave the station, find and then get on a bus. If done within 75 minutes, it'll cost you just the one ticket. I haven't had occasion to try this, myself, but I don't see why it can't work. You must, however, validate your ticket with each new transfer. I don't know if the same ticket can be used to ride a tram, then a bus, then metro line A, then metro line B, then a regional train - I'm assuming it's good only when used as tram + bus, or tram + metro, or bus + metro and not at all in combination with the regional trains. 

Here is some good and clear information on ATAC bus/tram/subway/train tickets prices

Here is a map of routes in Rome's center and a more elaborate (confusing) map of routes for the entire city.

Here is a map of bus routes in Rome's suburban (periphery) areas.

Here is a map of night routes in Rome.

Here is a map of Rome's underground subway and aboveground rail lines.

Here is a map of Rome's tram routes.

Here is a map of Rome's electrically powered lines.

Here is a map of public transportation routes to and from Ostia, Rome's nearby port city.

*Subway/Metro services are open:
Mon - Thurs: 5:30am to 11:30pm
Fri and Sat: 5:30am to (next day) 1:30am
I don't know about Sundays ... 
but I believe it's the same as Mon - Thurs
*There are also two shuttles (above ground) which take the same routes as the metro trains and they operate from 12:30am - 5:30am every day. These are    the 40N and the 55N shuttles.

Taxis and Cabs
Don't expect to hail a cab simply by whistling or waving your arms about - this isn't New York City. Cabs are not hailed, they are either reserved by phone (if possible, an hour in advance) or they are found at Rome's two airports (the main larger one in Fiumicino or the smaller one in Ciampino), at Termini or various capolinea (bus transfer areas). You can't miss them since they're almost always near entrances/exits. If you're staying in a hotel, the easiest thing is to have the front desk call a cab for you. 

Some Taxi services:
Mondo Taxi : dial 06 8822
Cosmo : dial 06 88177
La Capitale : dial 06 4994
Pronto Taxi : dial 06 6645
Tevere : dial 06 4157

This is an SMS number for Radio Taxi : 366.673.0000  
This is an SMS number for Asso Taxi:  346.800.1.800 
*SMS number: 
What you'd do is send a text message to the number simply telling them where you're at, for example: Via Tuscolana 123, and you will receive a text reply confirming taxi name or number and the approximate wait time. 

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