In August, the number zero issue of NERONE: The Insider's Guide to Rome (called - only for the #0 - The Roman Forum) was distributed as a 2-page photocopied flyer in Piazza della Rotonda in Rome (the Pantheon) by Sergio and his friend, Paolo, while practicing line-skating at night. Written in very tentative English, it was faxed to a friend in Honolulu for proof-reading.
Surprised and encouraged by the success of the flyer, Sergio prints the #1 issue of NERONE The Insider's Guide to Rome with the help of a local restaurant owner, Salvatore, whose brother in-law owns a print shop in Rome!
Summer 1994 - Christmas 1996
NERONE The Insider's Guide to Rome grew from a 2-page, photocopied flyer, to a 16-page, tabloid-formatted monthly newspaper, printed in 20,000 copies and distributed in most of Rome's hotels, museums, information points, bars, restaurants and some churches.
Summer 1996 - STARTING THE WEB ADVENTURE
Sergio meets the team of the X-Plore Cafè, the first internet cafè in Rome! Sergio’s various attempts to sell advertising space fail. The Café suggests an exchange: offering advertising space in exchange for help in creating NERONE’s website. After one month of work, NERONE The Insider's Guide to Rome website is ready! Now what?
The website starts as web-copy of the newspaper. Articles will now be available to everyone via the web! I will never forget how I felt the first time I opened NERONE’s home page while I was in another country on a vacation in the Winter of 1996. I could not believe how powerful the web was!
"Nerone, The Insider's Guide to Rome and Italy" website: www.nerone.cc (this is our old website)
Christmas 1996 - SHUTTING DOWN THE NEWSPAPER
The last number of NERONE The Insider's Guide to Rome is printed. There are many people to thank for their help and, in particular, Severino Tognon (friend and mentor publisher); Paul Gwynne (co-writer with Sergio for many of the articles, art-history living reference and friend), Luca Ciuffarella (graphic designer for the last few numbers of the newspaper); Studio Puliatti (for the hospitality during many nights awake, for the use of computers, photocopy and coffee machine); Salvatore Rizzacasa (the only director of a hotel in Rome who believed in the possibility of our visionary web-based hotel-booking system presented in 1996, and since then an enthusiastic fan and supporter of NERONE); Salvatore Monteforte (who helped me with the publishing of the #1 issue of the newspaper and remained a good friend ever since); Donald Sporleder (life mentor and contagious incurable optimistic good friend); and all the readers of the hard copy of NERONE The Insider's Guide to Rome whose many letter have filled my heart with joy and fed my thoughts with enthusiasm. Finally, a big thanks to my mom and dad who did not mind having a living room filled with mountain-like piles of just-printed newspapers. Grazie!
"Nerone The Insider's Guide to Rome" - cover page of "December 1996" issue
Summer 1997 - ROME MADE TO MEASURE
Total strangers from NYC, Mr. and Mrs. Winokur, sent me an email congratulating me for the articles published on NERONE The Insider's Guide to Rome website and asked to meet for coffee during their up-coming visit to Rome.
Sergio, Ricky and Jay spent three great days together exploring Rome at the end of which Jay and Ricky suggested to Sergio that he start a tour company, as they enjoyed walking around with Sergio so much. A tie-shop, where ties are made to measure, suggested the name for the tour company: Rome Made to Measure!
Sometime in 1998 - ITALIAN ORIGINS
We start a new adventure: Italian Origins! Marianne Di Tonno, Giovanni Cappelletti (father of John Cappelletti's 1973 Heisman Trophy / Something for Joey), Peter Bellonci and Ray Testa were the first to ask for our family search service. We successfully helped them re-connect with their relatives in Italy! It was emotional and unbelievable to be a part and take part in these reunions!
Summer 1997 - Summer 2010
Rome Made to Measure grows. Sergio and his team of guides also offer tours in other cities (Florence, Naples, and Venice.) "Rome Made to Measure" becomes NERONE TOURS ITALY.
After 14 years, the old website retires. NERONE TOURS ITALY has a new website. I hope the new website will be as glorious as the old one.
The names "NERONE - The Insider's Guide to Rome" and "Rome Made to Measure" are a piece of my heart and a part of my personal story.