A Semester in Italy – Transportation – by Sara Desrocher. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Semester in Italy – Transportation – by Sara Desrocher. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports


Ciao ragazzi! I have been in Italy for two weeks now and after a couple of trips within the country, I finally feel that I am learning the tricks of how to travel in the country and I would love to share with all of you! I’ll start with bus transportation. The bus schedule is online and posted at bus stops, but I usually struggle with knowing which stop the bus comes to on which day. Last week a group and students and I stood at a bus stop for 20 minutes before a very nice man who didn’t speak English tried to communicate to us that the bus wouldn’t be coming that day. I find it best to stick to the main bus stop because the buses all visit this one and may not stop at the others. Make sure to go a coffee bar near the bus stop to buy your ticket before heading to the stop. It is cheaper and you will need exact change to buy it on the bus, that is if they do allow you to buy it on the bus. There is a ticket validating machine right beside or behind the driver’s seat, place your ticket into it to have it stamped as verified. When the stop is close, people tend to stand up and move to the front of the bus while it is still moving so that they can get off right away, the bus won’t be stopped for very long. Believe in your bus driver! The roads are windy and sometimes only big enough for one car but the drivers know what they are doing.


Traveling by train is very similar to the bus system. Try your best to buy tickets online beforehand, I have saved as much as 5 euro. If you do this, make sure that you will have your ticket accessible on a phone or tablet to be checked on the train. Due to the lack of wifi, I screenshot my ticket before leaving my house so I can bring it up easily on the train. You can also buy a ticket at the train station; use a machine inside that allows you to buy them with a card or cash. You will receive a paper ticket, do not forget to validate the ticket before leaving the station building. I have found that sometimes they do not have validation machines out by the trains. I have only had my ticket checked on the train once, they either scan your screen for an electronic ticket, which is automatically validated, or they poke holes in the paper ticket. If your paper ticket was not validated at the station, you face a hefty fine. Also, if the doors don’t open at your stop, press the button on the door to be let out.

I have yet to travel by taxi because it is so expensive and Uber has recently been deemed illegal in the country, although I have heard that you can still find one if you try. Overall, it’s very easy to use public transportation in Italy but it might take a few tries to figure everything out!

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu


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15 responses to “A Semester in Italy – Transportation – by Sara Desrocher. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

  1. Cassie Mahlberg

    I am so glad to see another installment in your series about your trip to Italy. I am learning a lot from your posts already. It is incredible to see how different transportation is around the world. Here in Duluth, the city transportation system is easy- paper and online schedules and maps that lay out exactly the routes and times without much difference day-to-day. You can also pay cash, with loose change, purchase a ride card, or use a college student I.D. in order to ride. And we don’t have trains in the traditional sense (we have tourist trains, but those don’t help people who need to go to work or get out of dodge). I remember in Germany that the trains move pretty fast and stop for short times, but the buses, like those here, have to stop until the patrons are safely off. You say that taking a taxi is quite expensive and I would say that here it is relatively cheap depending on what you are doing, but I’m wondering if the price of the taxi in Italy has something to do with the pollution put off by vehicles used by individuals, rather than large carpooling systems like the bus or train used by large numbers of people. Curious to see what you learn about next. As always, safe travels!

  2. Sofia Pineda

    At the end of your article you mention that Uber is illegal in Italy and I can’t help but wonder why this is the case. Is is because it is not as safe as other transportation methods? Or maybe because it was affecting the taxi drivers’ business? I was also wondering if cars are used there a lot or if public transportation is more popular. I think the use of public transportation is often times a reflection of a nations culture and also its safety levels.

  3. Michaela Campbell

    Coming from a relatively rural area, having to use public transportation for the first time in a foreign country came as a huge culture shock to me. I definitely understand how easy it is to confuse oneself when traveling abroad, and using a new form of transportation. It seems as though the system in Italy is very efficient where you are traveling though! I am curious about Uber now being illegal in Italy? I wonder as to what has caused this, and if it is a real benefit to the nation to now have this type of service banned. It’s insightful to hear how other nations use different mediums to get where they need to go, compared to what we are used to using as semi-rural Duluthians.

  4. Diana Mena

    Sara, I am so glad that you are having the opportunity to travel. Traveling is my passion and truly believe that one can learn by traveling as much as in a classroom. I have also been to Italy and had the experience to see different parts of Italy and compare the differences economically and socially. I was fortunate enough to not have to worry about transportation, but reading this article really opened my eyes to the difference there is in transportation. I think thats really interesting that the bus doesn’t stop everyday, the first thing I thought about was people that relay on transportation for work. That must be difficult to try to make ends met and try to find transportation at the same time. I also thought that it was interesting that uber is illegal, I wonder how that happened or if it was just unsafe?

  5. McKenna Holman

    I myself have never had to use public transportation, so I cannot imagine what it would be like learning in a foreign country! I feel like I would have been really confused and lost a lot! What do you like better, the bus system or a train system? Is it easy to walk a lot of places in Italy? Also, you mention that Uber is illegal, why is that? It is so common here and in other parts of the world I cannot think of why it would be outlawed.

  6. Thomas Landgren

    Thank you for sharing! After reading your article I thought that the weirdest thing is that Uber is illegal in Italy. I wonder why this is? When it comes to exploring and transportation what would you recommend as the easiest to understand? would it be trains, Ubers, the bus, or a taxi? Are there any strict laws that push taking public transportation and other more environmentally friendly options of transportation in Italy? Another interesting Article Thank You!

  7. Mary Tran

    Sara, it’s so great to see another article regarding your stay in Italy! I found it super interesting to hear about how the bus doesn’t stop everyday. Do you happen to know why some stops the bus doesn’t come to? This must impact some people traveling to work and going home. Another interesting point you mentioned is that Uber is illegal. Why is that? Is it because of a possible concern on whether this method of transportation is safe? Has there been any issues regarding Ubers in Italy that has factored into the decision to have it illegal? Overall, great post! I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

  8. Taylor Erickson

    I use public transportation here in Duluth, and let me tell you, it took me a LONG time to get the hang of it! I still mess up sometimes. I can’t imagine trying to figure it out in another country (especially where I don’t speak the language! I know all of two Italian words!). It’s interesting to me how much the quality of popularity public transit varies depending on where you’re living – not just in countries and cities, but even in neighborhoods So many people (including myself) rely on public transportation, and it can be both incredibly convenient and incredibly inconvenient. I wonder, do a lot of people rely on buses and trains where you’re living, or do they use cars? I’m curious, too, about Uber being banned. I wonder if it’s for safety or economic reasons? If I had to guess, I’d say economic. Seems like a good question for Google right about now…

  9. Emily Hanson

    I have never been one to understand public transportation. I feel like they make it extra complicated for no reason. Why does your ticket need to be verified, I wonder? It all seems like a waste of time and very confusing, although I’m sure they have a reason for it. During my time abroad in Europe, we used the trains and buses a few times. It was very tedious to understand but once I got it down, I felt like I was standing on mountains. I’ve never had to ride the bus in America, so it was like I was learning an entire new language!
    I hope you enjoy your time abroad!

  10. Alex Oliver

    I used to take the city bus to highschool because i would go to school before the school bus came, and I hated the days when I would miss the bus or that it wouldn’t be coming that early. That stinks that they don’t have like a card reader for credit or debit cards. I think that would be a good idea, if transit companies had chip readers, because most people anyways have credit and debit cards. I wonder why they banned Uber? Uber has almost taken over the cab business. Especially in New York of all places.

  11. Andrew Bailey

    I recently used the public bus system here in Duluth and I found it to be very confusing at first, but if you follow the instructions and are on time for the bus, it is quite easy to get the hang of. I think it is really great that we have free transportation around the city with our CSS id card. In regards to transportation by train, in my high school French class, we studied the train system in France—specifically Paris. I am sure it is not exactly identical as Italy, but it must be quite similar. It is fascinating how fast some of the newer trains can travel in Europe. Your last point about Uber is very intriguing and it makes me wonder why Uber is illegal in Italy… I would think it is much cheaper than taking a taxi.

  12. I never thought about how public transportation operated in differently in other countries. By reading your article I learned some tricks and tips on how to use public transportation when I travel abroad. I really enjoyed that you were genuinely excited about figuring out how the public transportation operated in Italy. I actually use public transportation when I go down to the cities and it’s more efficient and I save more money than driving. I wonder why the buses schedule different stops for different days, I thought that was confusing but I guess if you live there long enough it wouldn’t be difficult to catch the bus. Do you know why Uber is illegal in Italy, because it’s the first time I have ever heard of a country banning Uber services. Overall I thought your article was informative and engaging. Can’t wait to hear more exciting stories about your experience aboard.

  13. Ellery Bruns

    I have had similar experiences trying to navigate public transportation in the US. When I moved from the cities to Duluth the transportation systems were very different. In Duluth, a bus will come by every half hour to an hour whereas in the cities buses come by every fifteen minutes. It was a change for me.
    Your article reminds me of Russian transportation. I haven’t been to Russia yet, but from stories, I heard it is much different from the US’s public transportation. I think it is interesting to see the different ways other countries arrange their transportation. I wonder what we can learn from each other to make our systems better.

    Also, I am curious. Why was Uber made illegal?

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