I’ve written about the Milanese tram before. But I couldn’t resist taking a closer look, yesterday, when all things conspired to make it a perfectly, perfect morning to do nothing but ride up and down line 19 on TRAM No. 1893. OK, I confess. I was going somewhere, but the “where” stopped mattering, when I realized how happy I was just getting there. I mean, which was yellower? The sun? Or the leaves on the ground? Or the tram when it pulled up to the stop? Which was more pleasing, the crisp of dried leaves underfoot, or the creak of those old wooden stairs folding down so that I could get up?
I love these old conveyances, and it will be a sad, sad day when they are gone. Just look at the details: wooden benches with fold up seats (I’ve often wondered what’s inside). Glass windows with the old metal fittings that passengers can slide up and down as desired. Lovely glass light fixtures, in wood mounts, that go right down the center of the trim, lined on either side by handrails, attached by gracefully curving supports. Grips that still hang on leather straps. A slatted wooden floor, that lets grit and moisture slide down away from your feet. The older Milanese often say, “It’s not like it used to be. Living here used to be so…beautiful.” I think I know what they mean. And I’m holding on to the last shreds of it with all my might.
And the beautiful old signage. Don’t get me started on how much I love that. “Don’t lean out the window” (above, photo on lower right). No smoking. No spitting. Exit prohibited. (Certain doors are intended for getting on, others for getting off—the idea being to avoid conflict and bottlenecks.) They even tell you how many seats are available: a modest 29.
There’s one sign that isn’t there, but in my opinion it should have been. Yesterday, when the sun was brilliant, and the leaves were theatrical, and the world was not yet under winter’s cold, determined stare like it is today. I saw it, a phantom sign, and this is what it said, “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?” And I had to agree.