Delio Tessa (1886-1939) was a melancholic and restless writer who often dwelled on his hometown Milan and its people. In one of his works he mentioned a friend of his, who “could not compose poetry unless he was on a tram. In order to publish a book, he had to purchase a one-year pass for all the lines!”
Some of the trams that inspired Tessa in the early 1900s still parade on the tracks of the Lombard capital, and have become one of the city’s most famous icons. They are the “1928-style” (or Serie 1500) vehicles, which were manufactured between 1927 and the early 1930s.
Traveling across the city, looking out the windows, Tessa captured the eyes “of some lower class women who have worked and suffered too much. They are the poor women who clean houses a few hours a day. You can usually see them lug around a bag of laundry – another of the services they provide. On the tram they sit with those bags on their knees, resting their large, knotty hands on them.”
In his articles (later collected in the book “Ore di città”) Tessa also complained, with sweet irony, of some universal shortcomings of public transportation: the ticket “invariably costs ten cents… but the tram never comes. In the evening it adds three or four wagons and accelerates, like a horse that can begin to smell its stable; but during the day there is a single car, which rests at length at every end of line”.
Tessa loved living in “the tumultuous sea of the city”, “among people, people, cars, motorcycles and people, people”, who waited for trams with him, “on the shore of this sidewalk”.
Words written almost one century ago… but still perfectly “on track”, thanks to Tessa’s fine urban style.