The airport is 32 km (20 miles) southwest of the city so you will need to think about transportation into Rome ahead of time. There are several options, each with its own pros and cons and the costs depend on how much you want to pay, how much convenience you want, and how many are in your group.
For us, we had a pre-arranged driver which was comparable to a taxi. We knew that our hotel was not within easy reach of the train station and until we got our bearings around the city, we didn’t want to be stuck with luggage in the middle of the city. Taxis run around €50 each way – a bit pricey if there are only 1-2 people, but for us it made sense at this point. If there are more people, it may be a cheaper way to go (although only if you don’t have a lot of luggage for your group) once you divide it up between everyone.
Another option is to take the train. There is a direct train running without stops from the airport to the Termini train station in Rome and costs €14/per person/one-way (2013). This will get you into the city center and, depending on where you are staying, it could be an easy walk from there. Look for the “Leonardo Express” train; it takes about 30 minutes to get to the city with this train.
There is another train that goes from the airport to the city which is a little cheaper at €8/person/one-way (2013) but it will take a bit longer since it does make some stops along the way. If you have time and want to save a bit of money, this might be for you. Look for the “Sabina-Fiumicino” (FR1) line. It runs approximately every 15 minutes.
This is where my fellow VT'ers will really be in a snicker as a few of them have experience with my ulcers over sorting out Italian rail. I am pleased to say I've finally (well, mostly anyway) conquered that beast - and so can you!
As is the case in most of Europe, trains are the primary mode of transportation in Italy and usually the easiest, most economical way to get from Point A to Point B. Because train travel is not so common in the US, figuring out how the system works can be a source of some anxiety for Americans taking their first trips by rail in a foreign country. Here's the good news:
• Trenitalia operates the vast majority of the country's rail system so ticketing, schedules and whatnot is usually very consistent.
• Stations in the major cities are well-staffed and you can usually find help. Approached politely, locals are usually very helpful as well.
• The cost of train travel in Italy is usually very reasonable, and forking over for 1st-class seats is never necessary. 2nd class is the standard way of travel for Italians, and there's usually very little difference between a 1st and 2nd-class carriage.
• In many parts of Italy taking a train is MUCH less stressful or potentially expensive than dealing with a car. Many cities have zones where only locals with a permit are allowed to drive and fines for innocently wandering into them are very steep.
• Once you get the hang of it, schedules (posted in all stations) are easy to figure out.
• It's usually not necessary to buy tickets in advance; they're easily purchased at most stations in Italy either at ticket windows or from automated machines (you may need to use cash).
• If you're really nervous about purchasing tickets from a machine or station agents, larger cities and towns also have travel agencies that sell tickets. These are often found in or very near the stations: there is one right next door to Santa Maria Novella's entrance in Florence. It can cost you a few euro more but lines for the counters are often shorter and agents usually speak reasonably fluent English. You may either purchase tickets for a specific journey or for all of your train-travel treks in Italy at once if you know what those are and flexibility isn't a big concern. How to find these? Look for the green and red FS logo in the window. Generally, though, tickets are easy to purchase via machine or ticket window.
• Central train stations in the largest cities are much like airports: they offer lots of services. See this link for a glance at shopping, restaurants, agencies, luggage storage, visitor help, etc. at Italy's busiest rail hubs:
The pitfalls? Strikes that can raise some real havoc with inflexible itineraries, and holidays that cancel out the posted schedules for some regular runs. There are also some tiny stations that may either not have ticketing agents or may be closed when you need them. With the exception of strikes, most of these snags can be gotten around with some advance planning and pre-purchasing of onward-journey or round-trip tickets so it's not as bad as it sounds.
I'll try to cover some of the finer points about rail travel in separate tips but some good on-line learning resources are:
"A Beginner's Guide to Train Travel in Italy":
This is an excellent 'Idiot's Guide' (yes, I used it!) with some step-by-step information
VT members mccalpin and Leics have Italian trains down to a science: post a querry in the forums and more than likely you'll get excellent help from either of them or from a number of our other rail experts.
"Train Travel in Italy":
The attached photo is of the Trenitalia ticket machines at Roma Termini. These extremely convenient machines have 5 languages, take cash or chip-and-pin cards (not mag swipe credit cards!), and have the same trains and prices that you would find online or at the ticket window...i.e., for most riders, there is no point in standing in line.
I am told that you can buy tickets for both the premium trains and the regional trains on these machines (as opposed to the Rete Regionale machines that sell only regional tickets). See the separate tip for a photo of them.
Please see the attached photos for two different types of self service ticket machines for the regional train network in Lazio. Id not know if the other regions have similar machines, but I would guess they do.
Note that one machine is cash-only, while the other machine accepts cards with chip-and-pin, but not traditional swipe-type credit cards. Thus, Americans who do not have chip-and-pin cards yet will need to either have plenty of cash (in bills that are not too big) or acquire a chip-and-pin card from their bank or from a service like Travelex.
- "Biglietti" is "tickets"
- "rete regionali" is "regional network". The local trains are actually regulated by the region, not by Trenitalia, which is a brand name by the Ferrovie dello Stato (national railways) for their upscale long-distance service
- "monete" is "coins"
- "annulla" is "cancel [the transaction]", i.e., start over
- "banconote" is "bills" (like "currency")
Our first couple of experiences with Europe's train stations were a bit hectic and then frustrating. On our first trip to Europe in 2008 we were leaving London and going to Paris on the Eurostar. We had an early morning departure. A week or so before they had an accident with a non passenger train and thus trains were departing at different times then scheduled (some earlier and some later). Ours was leaving earlier and we barely made the train so didn't get to see much of the St. Pancras station. We arrive at Gare du Nord and my experience trying to buy a ticket for the RER left me frustrated.
However, after that first time on a European train and stations we have had nothing but interesting experiences at the stations and the trains themselves. I won't go into all the little stories here, but will try and document them on individual pages for various cities.
On our second European trip in 2012 the Rome Termini station was the first train station on our visit. I always try to get to departure points for airlines or train stations plenty early so I don't have to rush about (doesn't always work with my wife on the trip, but I try) so I think we arrived about 45 minutes or so before our scheduled departure from Rome to Florence. During that time we were able to walk around the station, walk in a couple of shops and look at the tote board for our scheduled train. I had prepaid for tickets at home in the U.S. and since the high speed train to Florence had assigned seating and I had pre-printed the tickets out we could just board the trains without having to use the yellow machines to punch a ticket. (I checked with someone at the station ticket office just to make sure that was the case).
Anyway here are some pictures of the Rome Termini station.
Just a note here for the cruise crowd:
Rome is not on the sea. Rome is over an hour (by train) inland from the port town of Civitavecchia - where the ships dock. Virtual Tourist sees a lot of questions from cruise passengers wishing either to skip the ships' tours for budget reasons or who simply prefer to do their sightseeing solo. To do so you need to get yourself to the Civitavecchia train station and hop a commuter train to Termini, the central train station in Rome. Then reverse the process to get back to your ship.
We have two members, mccalpin and travelgourmet, with detailed reviews on just how to do that, and here's where you find them (thanks, Bill and Larry):
The only caution is that ships will not wait for tardy passengers so making SURE you are back on board by the time yours sails is your responsibility. Italian trains do go on strike now and again, and holidays can interfere with normal schedules so check when you buy your tickets that all will be running normally before you hurry off to Rome.
We made use of the train route between Rome and Civitavecchia when we took a Mediterranean cruise that departed from Civitavecchia in October 2012.
The port at Civitavecchia is around 80km north-west of central Rome. The idea of taking a taxi on a journey of that distance brought me out in cold sweats (it would likely be 100 Euros +), so I was relieved to find that there is a frequent and low cost railway link between the two.
The following information was correct as at October 2012:
Rome San Pietro – Civitavecchia
I'd done plenty of research on the trains between Rome and Civitavecchia prior to our trip.
The invaluable www.bahn.de provided me with all the timetable information that I needed.
As we were staying in a hotel close to the Vatican, it made sense for us to take a train from Rome San Pietro station rather than from Rome Termini.
Our journey was on a Sunday morning and we wanted to arrive in Civitavecchia before midday in order to board the ship as soon as possible.
Not all of the trains from Termini called at San Pietro en-route, but one train stood out as being ideal for us. It left Termini at 10:12am, called at San Pietro at 10:30am and arrived in Civitavecchia at 11:13am. It was ultimately destined for Pisa Centrale.
Had we missed that train, the next one called at San Pietro at 11:32am and arrived in Civitavecchia at 12:27pm.
In the event, we caught the 10:30am train that we planned to catch. It was a regional train, which meant that we didn't need to make a reservation in advance. We simply turned up at the station shortly after 10am and purchased tickets from a desk inside the station.
There was no queue at that time (the station was generally very quiet) and the lady who served us spoke English very well and was incredibly helpful. She informed us that we should validate our tickets in the green machines at the platform entrances, pointed us in the direction of platform 5 where the train would leave from and informed us that there was no luggage storage facility at the station when we asked her.
The tickets cost 4.60 Euros each.
The train arrived and departed on time, but made its way into Civitavecchia 7 minutes behind schedule (a fact that was relayed to us over the train's announcement system as we disembarked the train!). There were 3 interim stops between San Pietro and Civitavecchia, but each one was a short stop.
Our previous experience of Italian trains was a rather uncomfortable journey from Bologna to Rimini where we found ourselves standing in a cramped carriage for the entire duration. We were therefore hoping that this journey would be a more comfortable one, especially as there were six of us with suitcases in tow. When we first boarded the train, we found ourselves in a compartment between carriages where we were able to store our suitcases and some of us were able to sit. Gradually, seats became available within the carriages and overall it was a fairly comfortable journey.
Upon arrival at Civitavecchia station, it was an easy 10 minute walk to the port entrance where we were met by a Royal Caribbean shuttle bus to transfer us to the ship's check-in area.
We heard taxi drivers quoting 5 Euros per person for the short journey from Civitavecchia station to the port.
Civitavecchia – Rome Termini
Unlike on the outbound journey, I hadn't researched the times of the trains back to Rome from Civitavecchia at the end of our cruise. So, we turned up at the station and hoped for the best.
We arrived at the station around 10:45am and had unfortunately missed a regional train by a matter of minutes.
We could therefore either pay extra for a fast train at 11:07am, or wait until 1pm for the next regional train.
We decided on the former. The fast train (a Eurostar City train) cost us 14.50 Euros each, compared to just 4.60 Euros on the regional train.
It left from platform number 3 and travelled straight from Civitavecchia to Rome Termini with no other stops en-route. Despite being labelled a "fast" train, it wasn't travelling much quicker (if at all) than the regional train; it was faster only by virtue of the fact that it didn't make any interim stops. We arrived at Rome Termini station at 11:55am (a journey time of 48 minutes, only marginally quicker than the 50 minute journey from San Pietro to Civitavecchia on the regional train on our outbound trip). It was difficult to justify the large price difference between the regional train and the fast train.
The train wasn't full, so we were able to score comfortable seats, while leaving our suitcases stacked up by the exit.
During a visit to Rome in October 2012, we found ourselves in a position where we needed to make use of luggage storage facilities in the city.
We had arrived back from a Mediterranean cruise early on a Sunday morning and were flying home to the UK late that evening. We had hoped to store our luggage at Civitavecchia train station and explore some of the nearby coastal towns by train, but this was not possible. We enquired at Rome San Pietro train station as to whether they offered luggage storage facilities. They didn't – but they were able to inform us that we would find luggage storage at Termini Station.
The following information was correct as at October 2012:
Luggage storage is open daily from 6am until 11pm.
The cost for storing each piece of luggage is 5 Euros for the first 5 hours and then 0.70 Euros per hour for the 6th to 12th hours and 0.30 Euros per hour for every hour thereafter, up to a maximum of 5 days.
The luggage storage area is well signposted throughout Termini station.
We queued for a while (around 15-20 minutes) to check our luggage in, but were able to reclaim it pretty much instantaneously when we returned later to collect it.
We paid upon collection of our luggage.
Getting from Rome's Fiumicino Airport to Central Rome is very easy ....
The Leonardo Express is the name of the train that will shuttle you from Rome's main international airport, Fiumicino, to central Rome's Termini station, a Leonardo Express train leaves every half hour in each direction.
From Rome Termini: Trains to the airport start at 5:52 in the morning, with trains running at 22 and 52 minutes after the hour. The last train of the day departs at 22.52 (10:52pm)
From Rome's Fiumicino International Airport: Trains to Termini Station start at 6:35 in the morning, with trains running at 5 and 35 minutes after the hour. The last train of the day departs at 23.35 (11:37pm)
The train covers the 37 km in around 31 minutes.
Tickets can be purchased at the main ticket windows, as well as at the automatic ticket machines and at the news/tobacco stores in the foyer of Termini station. Validate ur tickets prior to boarding the train by using the machines near the track, called obliteratrici in Italian, and the tickets cost 15.- Euro / one way ...
Understanding the Billboard Train Times in the station. Reducing stress of travel for you....
The photo shows the train number, the time it leaves and where it makes stops. They are all listed by the 24 hour clock time.
Listed in the photo is the medium priced with some stops, the cheaper one that takes longer and then the fast train that costs more. Notice they are in different colors.
The track is called binario and is listed on the right side in a blue circle. Be sure and check the televsion monitors overhead in the station to see if your train might be changed to another binario.
Also, at the bottom of the listing you might find dates that the train does not run, or changes to another binario.
You can also see the time that the train is supposed to arrive at each new station, right after the name of the stop.
Albergo Del Senato Rome
5 Reviews and 1446 Opinions The Pantheon is my favorite building in Rome and might be my favorite building in the world. The...
Campo De' Fiori Rome
5 Reviews and 896 Opinions It has been completely renovated but still with a very traditional elegant decor. I am not sure if...
Hotel Lancelot Rome
5 Reviews and 797 Opinions This Christmas, for the first time ever, we were away for the holidays. The family arrived at...
see all Rome member meetings