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The Roman Empire • Rome • 8 • How to Get There

by mythic44

How to Get There

By boat – Most cruise ships dock in Civitavecchia, some to begin or end a cruise, some to stay a full day to allow passengers to “day-trip” to Rome.

For “day-trippers”, many ships arrange shuttle buses to and from the pedestrian port entrance. From there you can walk 10-15 minutes along the shore to the Civitavecchia train station. A B.I.R.G. round trip train ticket for Rome costs approximately €12 (as of 2014), and also entitles you to unlimited use of Rome’s Metro, tram and bus lines. Trains for commuters leave every hour or so – more often during rush hours – and take about 80 minutes. For Rome, you can get off either at the Roma Trastevere train station or continue to Termini right downtown, where countless buses, some trams and the Metro await.

If starting or ending a cruise using the train, you’ll likely want to take a taxi between the ship and the train station. Because some train platforms can only be reached by underground walkway/stairs, plan ahead for transferring your luggage. At certain times of day, there may be porters to help. See also “About luggage” in “By train” above.

It is now possible for modest-to large-sized yachts to dock in the new Porto di Roma at Ostia, a district located 20km from the city centre and linked by the Roma-Lido light railway (whose stations, however, are not within practical walking distance of the marina or riverside boat facilities).

Ferry services

  • Grimaldi Lines. Provides ferry service to/from Barcelona, Tunis, Toulon (France), Porto-Vecchio (Corsica). Many ferries run as much as 4h late causing problems with onward connections such as the train to Rome. The last one leaves Civitavecchia at midnight and can leave you stranded overnight.
  • Moby provides service to/from Olbia, Sardinia.

By car – Driving to Rome is quite easy; as they say, all roads lead to Rome. The city is ringed by a motorway – the Grande Raccordo Anulare or, simply, the GRA. If you are going to the very centre of the city any road leading off the GRA will get you there; if you are going anywhere else, however, a GPS or a good map is essential. Signs on the GRA indicate the name of the road leading to the centre (e.g. via Appia Nuova, via Aurelia, via Tiburtina) but this is useful only for Romans who know where these roads pass.

By train – Rome’s main railway station is Roma Termini, which is closed between 00:30 and 04:30. Most long-distance trains passing through Rome between these times will stop at Tiburtina station instead.

Other main stations are Roma Tiburtina, Roma Ostiense, Roma Trastevere and Roma Tuscolana.

About luggage: when travelling between major cities or to/from another country, trains will be designed for passengers and luggage. Most others (e.g., between nearby towns and cities) are often designed to serve commuters.

  • For stations en route, they stop for only 1-2 minutes.
  • Most cars have a middle platform close to the station’s boarding level, but with a significant gap. Seating areas may be at levels different from the middle platform, with narrow/clumsy steps for moving large luggage and little space to store them. Large pieces must often be left on the middle platform; have someone guard them… as thieves might try to grab them just before the doors close.

By plane – Rome (IATA: ROM for all airports) has two main international airports:

  • Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino International Airport Rome’s main airport is modern, large, rather efficient and well connected to the city centre by public transport. However, late-night arrivals may limit you to an irregular bus into town unless you can afford a taxi.
  • G.B. Pastine/Ciampino International Airport Located to the southeast of the capital, this is the city’s low-cost airline airport, serving Easyjet, Ryanair and Wizzair flights, among others. This small airport is closer to the city centre than Fiumicino but has no direct train connection. There are plans to move the low-cost airport much further out of Rome, but this is unlikely for some years. Note that at Ciampino cash machines are available only in the departures area. This is a relatively small airport and it closes overnight; you’ll be locked out of the airport until it opens again for the first check-in around 04:30 or 05:00. Flying into Ciampino, try to sit on the right of the plane – it will fly just to the east of the city centre. While the plane’s reaching Rome, you can see the Tiber and then the Olympic stadium, Castel Sant’Angelo, St. Peter’s and the Colosseum.

Transport to/from airports – From the Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino airport, there are two train lines that will get you into Rome:

  • The Leonardo Express leaves every 30 minutes to Roma Termini, Rome’s central train station (35 min trip). Tickets cost €14 and are available (within 7 days of departure) online. Tickets sold at the departure platform are €15. So if there are three of you it is cheaper to take a taxi and you get delivered to your door. You can’t buy a ticket for a specific train; it’s just a general ticket for a specific route (Termini), but it’s good for any time. Get your ticket stamped in a yellow validation machine just before boarding the train: it will expire 90 minutes after the validation. At Termini, the Leonardo Express stops at platform # 24.
  • The suburban train (FL1 line) does not stop at Termini. Get off at Tiburtina or, before that, at the Ostiense train station, where you can connect to line B of the Metro; alternatively, you can get off at the Roma Trastevere train station and from there take the # 8 tram (direction: “p.za Venezia”) to go to Trastevere, Campo de’ Fiori, largo di Torre Argentina and piazza Venezia. Tickets are €8, plus €1.50 for a bus-tram-Metro ticket. The extra cost of the Leonardo Express is for the convenience of a direct ride to Termini. If you are going somewhere else close to a Metro station, Tiburtina and Ostiense stations are as convenient. Get your ticket stamped in a yellow validation machine just before using it.

Terravision bus is probably the easiest and cheapest connection between Fiumicino airport and Rome city centre, but the journey takes 55 minutes. You can either book online (€4 one-way) or buy the tickets there (€6 one-way, €11 round-trip). The bus departs near Terminal 3 of the airport and arrives at Termini station (the same applies for the route in reverse). There are other buses that go to Termini station and, during the low season, you can hedge your bets and see which one leaves earlier.

Note: When boarding one of the Terravision coaches from Termini to either airport, you must trade in your ticket for a laminated card called a “Boarding Pass”. The €6 ticket is good for any bus in the day of purchase, but there’s a limited number of seats available on each bus – and the Terravision office hands out these boarding passes on a first come, first served basis. For example, you may go to the station at noon and buy the 14:30 ticket to Ciampino. The ticket agent will however be giving you a generic ticket; you must then come back (they recommend 30 minutes earlier) at, let’s say, 14:00 and trade that ticket in for a boarding pass valid for the 14:30 bus to Ciampino. In rare cases, these passes may have already run out by the moment you show up at the office – our advice is to get onto the bus before the one you actually want to ride. The agents speak decent English, though, so just ask them if you are confused.

COTRAL/Schiaffini operates buses from both airports to the city. Don’t forget to validate your ticket after getting on the bus. The timetables can be found here:

From Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino, the public bus stop is located outdoors at ground level, at the bottom of the Terminal 1 (Domestic Arrivals). You can buy tickets at the tobacco shop in the Terminal 1 baggage area, with the blue sign (Tabaccheria). Lines from Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino are:

  • Aeroporto-Termini-Tiburtina (€ 4.50)

The schedule for Aeroporto-Termini-Tiburtina is:
from Fiumicino: 01:15, 02:15, 03:30, 05:00, 10:55, 12:00, 15:30
from Rome Tiburtina station: 00:30, 01:15, 02:30, 03:45, 09:45, 10:30, 12:35, 17:30

The nighttime timetable is not kept very well; buses may be half an hour late or not arrive at all. Perch on the bus stop, don’t give up – the bus will come.

  • Aeroporto – Roma Cornelia (Metro line A) (€2.80)
  • Aeroporto – Roma Magliana (Metro line B) (€1.60)
  • Aeroporto – Ostia Lido (€1)
  • Aeroporto – Fregene (€1)
  • Aeroporto – Fiumicino (città) (€0.77)

An inexpensive choice from Fiumicino is to take the bus (COTRAL) to the “EUR Magliana” stop, which belongs to line B, and then take the Metro. It’s the cheapest way to get to the centre (€2.50 bus + €1.50 Metro). The sign on this bus reads “Fiumicino-Porto-Magliana”.

Ciampino – From Ciampino airport the cheapest way is a combination of bus and train. For the first part you can take the Atral/Schiaffini bus (roughly every hour or 30 minutes on weekdays) from the stop located outside the terminal building to either Ciampino train station (5 mins) or to the Metro line A Anagnina stop (10 mins or more) for a cost of €1.20 to either way. From the Ciampino train station you can take the train to Termini station (20 mins) for €1.50. Because Ciampino is the first or second train stop on the way to many destinations from Termini, there are around 5 trains per hour and this is probably the overall fastest way (if you are going from Termini to Ciampino by train, you can enter “Ciampino” in the automated ticket machines and it will offer the different destinations/times). From Anagnina Metro station the ticket costs €1.50 (good for any public transport for 100 minutes, see single-ride ticket) and this should be the best way if your destination is near a Metro line A stop, but not Termini station. It’s not possible to walk the 4km to the local train station, as there are no footpaths. If you miss the train station to airport bus and can’t wait for the next one, a taxi ride will cost you €15-20.

There are a few direct bus services from Ciampino, all of which arrive at Termini station in downtown Rome:

  • Sit Bus Shuttle. They run a bus line whose ticket costs €6 one-way (€10 round-trip); the ride takes approximatively 40 minutes and there are about 25 rides a day.
  • Terravision. This is a dedicated airport-city transfer that takes approximatively 40min, with a service every 30min, provided just for the major low cost airlines. The price is €4 one-way or €8 round-trip. You can book on-line, inside the airport or outside near the bus stops (look for the employees with fluorescent vests writing “€4 city transfer”). Passengers should, on their return trip from Termini, board the bus three hours before their flight’s departure time.
  • COTRAL. This carrier’s ticket costs €5 one-way (the ride will take some 40min), but has far fewer departures than Terravision. These buses are not mentioned on the airport website yet, but you can find them on Schiaffini’s own site. This bus line may come in handy if you arrive at a time when the Metro is closed.

By taxi – Taxis in Rome are white. There is a fixed fare of €48 from Fiumicino airport to downtown Rome (the area within the city’s Aurelian Walls) and vice versa. Sometimes, taxis in the queue at the airport are not from Rome but from the nearby town of Fiumicino: these are not bound by the fixed fare rule and are best avoided. The fare from Ciampino airport to the city centre and vice-versa is €30; between the two airports, the fare rises to €50. For most other destinations, fares are not fixed and are based on the meter. Generally, Roman taxi drivers are hard-working honest people; however, there’s a hard core of crooks who tend to work the airports and the main station. Do NOT negotiate the price for the city centre and be sure your driver activates the metre (all licenced taxis have a metre) when he/she starts driving to any destination not covered by a fixed fare. Drivers at the airport may try to talk you into paying more than the fixed fare, saying that your destination is ‘inside the walls’ or ‘hard to get to’; if they try to overcharge you at your destination ask them to call a policeman. They will probably back down. Licensed limousine drivers may approach you at the airports, especially Fiumicino, where there are several companies (mainly cooperatives) with booths close to the exit. A drive with them to the centre could reach as high as €80 but if you are in a group a large limousine or “van” could be cheaper than two taxis. Be aware as well of unlicensed “taxi” drivers. Go directly to the taxi stand and ignore touts.

At the airport in Ciampino, there should be an organised taxi queue – however, the drivers will often negotiate amongst themselves if you are going somewhere the cab at the front doesn’t want to go to. There are reports that late-night licensed cabs at Ciampino are asking €100 to take people into town, so try to avoid late flights or take the bus that connects with the flight. If you have to take a cab just pay the legal fare at your destination; if, instead, you have no stomach for the resulting argument then you can phone a cab from one of the numbers listed under the “Get Around” section.

A shared airport shuttle can be hired for around €15 per person to take you from Ciampino airport. However, since the shuttle is shared, it may take longer to reach your destination if other customers are dropped off before you are.

Rental cars are available from all major companies at both airports. Providers can be reached easily in the Arrivals Halls at both Fiumicino and Ciampino.

Another option, is to book a licensed limousine in advance on-line. The prices are often cheaper than a taxi especially for minivans and in Fiumicino even for sedans. One disadvantage however is that you normally need to book at least 24 hours in advance so you need to plan ahead.

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