Let's begin with technical side. Unlike most metro systems, the one in Rome is actually a standard gauge urban railway gaining power from overhead 1.5 kV direct current power line.
There are two relatively fast lines travelling up to 80 kph. On line A there are new air-conditioned trains, on line B old trains totally covered with graffiti are still running. Lines cross at stazione Termini. Trains are running quite chaotically, sometimes the next train is coming in one minute, sometimes in five. Trains aren't ususally very overcrowded, of course there are more people using the metro at peak hours.
Metro line A is actually the newest metro line in Rome. New air conditioned trains are running, making the ride quite pleasant on a hot day. The line takes you near Vatican, Piazza di Spagna, Fontana di Trevi and Piazza della Repubblica, for example. It intersects to line B under stazione Termini. Trains have diplays to announce stations, but they're often out of order. On some trains stations are also announced acoustically.
Due to construction of metro line C, metro A closes daily at 21.30. It's replaced by buses MA1 and MA2, stopping near metro stations. And hold on to the handgrips, these buses are trying to keep up to the speed of trains! :)
Metro line B is the oldest line of Rome's rapid transit. Old graffiti-covered trains are running on this line. They get hot in the summer - open windows help a bit, but of course make the ride noisier. The line takes you to Colosseo and Roma Tiburtina railway station, for example, intersecting line A under stazione Termini. Stations are announced acoustically (also in English) on some trains.
A new branch of the line, B1, is under construction.
Rome desperately needs third metro line - there are many places where rails don't reach. So finally, construction works of metro C are underway, causing restrictions on several other rail lines. It will run from Pantano to Clodio Mazzini, intersecting to line A in Ottaviano and San Giovanni and line B in Colosseo. The trains will be, of course, fully automatic. First section should be in service by 2011, but in Italy trains are sometimes late...
The best and fastest way to travel in Rome.
All you need is Line A and B
Sipro Musei Vaticani - Vatican Museum
Ottaviano San-Pietro - Basilica di St.Pietro
Flaminio - Piazza del Popolo and Villa Borhese
Spagna - Piazza di Spagna
Barberini - Fountain Trevi
Termini - Termini
Colosseo - Colosseum
Sirco Massimo - Sirco Massimo
The easiest way to cover large distances, cheaply, is the Metro. All day tickets are an excellent value, currently just 4 Euros. The Metro system is divided into Linea ‘A’ and Linea ‘B’ that cross paths only at Termini Train Station. Even the farthest metro stops take about 15 minutes to get to Termini. This will give you access to cheaper and better hotels. Mornings and afternoons on weekdays get very busy around central Rome, so be prepared to push yourself onto a train. You need to be quick as the trains do not hang about. Keep your valuables safe! You may also be serenaded by street musicians on the trains. The metro stops are relatively clean and are safe. The odd beggar looks at you, just ignore them. Buy a good map and it will show all the metro stops.
The Cavour area is good for restaurants.
If you are planning to stay a week and commute while in Rome, probably the weekly ticket is the best option for you. It is good for all the subway, bus and tram lines. It cost 16 euros (March 2005), versus 1 euro for each single trip. I know it's a lot, but, on the other hand, just try to buy a weekly ticket in, say, Paris or London, for that kind of price!
Go to the Rome metro page and see where to buy such (and other) tickets!
Going around rome is quite easy. Make use of the integrated card system of the subway (metropolitana or metro), l'autobus or pullman (buses) and trams or simply ATAC (Agenzia per i Trasporti Autoferrotranviari del Comune di Roma) You can buy ATAC tickets from any local tabacchio or bar.
Tickets that cost 1euro is valid for 75minutes from the time is has been stamped and worth all bus/tram rides you can plus 1 metroride.
Ticket that cost 4euro is valid for the whole day with trams, buses and subway.
There are also tickets valid for 3- days (best recommended for tourists, costs 11euro), 1 week and one-month (should you need to stay longer in Rome). Just ask the local tabacchaio for the best advise.
Rome's Metro is not too bad & comprises 2 lines. Trains run from 5 AM to 11:30 PM with Line A, the red line East-West and Line B, the blue line North-South.
Line A includes stops near the sights of the Vatican (Ottaviano-Vaticano), Piazza Del Popolo (Flaminio), the Spanish Steps (Spagna), Piazza Barberini and Piazza della Repubblica. Line B stops at Colosseum (Colosseo), Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo), the Pyramide (Piramide) and San Paolo Basilica (San Paolo).
The common point for both is Termini Station so you can get on any line and change at Termini. At the end of each line is a bus station - the only one I have used is at Anagnina on line A & it's quite large. Finding your bus during the busy part of the day is a real challenge!!
For full info visit the site below which includes the lines & connections.
Sciopero, or strike, is the nightmare of the tourist in Italy, and especially in cities like Rome where people don't find driving too comfortable (I disagree - driving in Rome is an excellent experience, but that's the subject of another tip).
A bit of planning can avoid the inconveniences of a strike. In particular, the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure has a good website where all the planned strikes are listed. The website (in Italian) is continuously updated. And before you say anything, I'll admit: strikes are pretty much the only well-planned thing in Italy.
All major night busses cross the place in front of the Termini station. The busses are leaving every 30 min. If your are not in the centro storico it's better to take the night busses than to take a taxi. Especially on Satturdays you have to wait for a long time for taxis!
You can buy tickets from the driver which isn't possible on day busses.
To download the pdf-file whit all lines click on the link.
Rome has a easy and great metro system, as of September 2009 a new line was still being built but they keep running into sites underneath modern Rome, site are clearly marked, but be careful of pickpockets on the train, foreigner's stand out like sore thumbs here !!!!! We bought a 3 day metro card for 15 Euro's good for the metro and buses !!!!
We found it very difficult to figure out the bus routes in Rome. Even when I pressed a tour guide for information his answer was "the buses are for the locals you won't be able to figure them out". We also found the Metro stops were very limited. My tip: bring some good walking shoes because you will be doing a LOT of it!
From the airport to Termini
- Best way to commute is using the bus which is found at the parking of Terminal 1. It will cost you about 15 Euros for a return journey and drops you at Termini Station
- Roma Pass is really helpful as it allows you to use it for 3 main attractions (e.g. Forum, Colosseum, etc.)
- You can use it on all the buses and metro within Rome. The metro is really good with only two lines running. I used to walk a lot and hop from bus to bus. Just locate the next M sign when you are lost on a bus and hop down. It's the safest way to get back to your destination.
Why do people keeping saying that Rome is small and walkable, and you don't need public transportation? Is it some sort of "truism" that everybody believes without checking it out??
Rome is huge and you will definitely need to take trains/metros/buses/trams/mini-buses at some point along the way. Asking for directions, people said - oh, it's "just over there." What a lie.
We walked miles and miles, many of them in circles, to get where we wanted to go. We were totally exhausted and were extremely grateful for the 11 Euro 3-day transportation pass we bought. It was a lifesaver. We were really and truly sad when that little card expired. We used it endlessly to save a few steps, because believe me, the steps add up!
The pass, called a Biglietto Turistico Integrato (BTI), can be purchased at Termini train station, "tobacco shops" and metro stations. Sometime you can get them at newsstands. Remember: You can't buy them ON the train or bus. You need to purchase them ahead of time. They only become active after you validate them (i.e. get them stamped), so you can buy a few if you are planning to be around for more than 3 days.