It has been a really quiet day in Rome from the point of view of news, at least news relating to the Vatican or the Pope. Most of the news has been on the website for a few days, and the only new item on the page dedicated to POPE was in the daily press office bulletin which announced that Pope Francis had appointed a new metropolitan archbishop for Marseille, France.

I usually do not go out for lunch during the workweek but today made an exception to have lunch with a friend and her husband. Diane and I have been writing each other for eons, and have missed each other in Rome on previous trips but today we finally made the meeting happen.

They had a few questions about bus tickets –where to get them, how to use them, etc. Diane said they came to the Vatican area via bus and without a ticket, and I told them they were very fortunate that controllers were not on the bus or they would have been fined.

Bill and Diane told me they saw many people boarding the bus without tickets and I told them there would be one of two reasons for that. Either the traveler had a monthly bus pass like I do and, should a controller board the bus, I only have to show him the pass. So, when I get on the bus, it looks like I am boarding for free. Not true.

The other reason for not having a ticket is that the person or person in question simply did not buy ticket.

Tickets cost €1.50 each and are good for 100 minutes after you validate them in a small yellow and black machine on the bus. Few busses if any offer machines to buy your ticket on board. You may buy them in some coffee bars or at most tabacchi stores or newspaper kiosks.

For many years the tabacchi stores were the only place you could buy salt as salt was a government monopoly (as some cigarette brands are) and monopoly products were available at tobacco stores. Today you can also get lottery tickets, souvenirs, greeting cards, gift wrap and a whole host of other products, depending on the size of the store. If you are in a beach resort, you can buy suntan lotion, sun glasses, etc.

I accompanied Bill and Diane to the bus stop after we purchased some tickets at a tabacchi store.

As the saying goes, ‘That’s the ticket” That’s the right thing to do!

More travel tips in coming days!