A metro card is a card that you use to tap up on a monthly basis that can be used anytime and any day that the transportation is in service within Milan. The card is valid in the metro, tram and the bus within the urban limit of Milan. Beyond the “urban limit” requires an extra cost and you will need to also buy the “extra urban ticket”.The metro card costs 35 euros per month and you can only get this at the beginning of the month within the first few days. A “on as you go and tapping up” type of card for tourists simply doesn’t exist. You either get the monthly card at the beginning of the month or buy a weekly pass or a single urban ticket. As a local, it only made sense to buy the monthly card since I use the metro more or less 5x a week.
For those who need or want to purchase a metro card, see below….
- Location. You need to go to a metro station that sells the metro cards or purchase the card online within the first 3 days in the beginning of the month. I suggest going to a metro station where you can have a one on one interaction with someone and try not to go during rush hour (11am or 5pm). It can be a pain to wait, trust me, I had to on my first day and it wasn’t fun.
- Go to Romolo Station. I spoke to a local while I was waiting for my turn at this location and she said this was the least wait out of all of the metro stations in Milan. When I arrived my waiting number was A295 and the current waiting number was at A218. Yes, I waited a while but, can you imagine how bad it is elsewhere if, this station had the least waiting time? http://subway.umka.org/map-milan/line-2/romolo.html (scroll down and look for the twirl on the map, that’s where Romolo is located 🙂
- Pick up a ticket number at the ticket machine next to the regular counter. It looks like this http://winenchocolate.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/milan-train-8.jpg. They actually had signs on the window counter leading to where to get the ticket number but, the actual machine is in Italian and doesn’t have a sign in itself that points “ticket machine here”. I had to ask that lovely Italian lady who ended up helping me translate all night to reconfirm that the machine was indeed the ticket machine or not….and it was. Sorry, I don’t have a photo for you but it is the only machine against the wall close to the stairs coming in to the station.
- The Ticket Machine. All directions are in Italian and it had 5 buttons on it. I started pressing one button that was by itself from the left side. It didn’t work. Then, the lovely lady who helped me with translating from English to Italian pressed the correct button for me. I couldn’t help but, laugh. She was so cute to help this lost soul.
- Watch the guy with sheets of papers. At Romolo station during prime time, you’ll likely see someone walking around with forms in his hands. Ask this guy for one of the forms to sign up for the metro card before you are called to the window. The form is in Italian and in white with orange boxes to fill in your information. You will need this form to give to the person behind the window which is the form for the metro card.
- The actual form. You’ll need one passport photos. If you don’t have one you can use one of the regular photo booth around the corner from the candy stand. Like this http://j-dogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/hollywood-photo-booth.jpg
- Photo booth machine. All the directions are in Italian so, I had no idea what the machine was asking me to do. I did manage to understand the cost…or so, I thought. It had 2 euros advertised on the machine but, when I put in 2 euros it asked me for more money. In the end the total cost was 5 euros. It gives back change and the photo with 6 selfies and 2 tiny versions. Make sure to have change in hand.
- Bring a book. You’ll be waiting a while.
- Buying the ATM card. It was quick and painless. The guy behind the counter spoke English so that was a plus. Although, I wanted the annual card he gave me the monthly card instead. lol I didn’t bother making any changes.
Base on what my roommate told me, when you re-new the card the next month, they’ll also ask for passport photos again. No idea why.Update: In my experience, signing up for the monthly service was better than paying the annual fee because I traveled often outside Milan within my year abroad and some months I was rarely in Milan thus, I did not have to pay for the monthly cost. Also, you can get by getting around the city without taking the metro by walking if, you live within the urban area and if, you’re not in a rush.
- The ATM card. Looks like this https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/13/Milan_urban_tickets_and_smartcard.JPG See the orange card to the right of this image.
Make sure to get the annual card so you don’t have to go through this whole process again. If you didn’t and ended up like me getting the monthly version, then, see you at Romolo Station next month. lolUpdate: Again, this depends on your daily commute. If you work everyday and have to go across town then, it’s best to get the annual card. Otherwise, see #9.