Rome via Wikipedia

27 Jan Travelling to Rome – the AA Roadwatch guide

Compiled by Chris Jones and Jennifer McCormack.

Main photo of St Peter’s Square by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

For centuries, Rome has been known as the Eternal City, so called because ancient Romans believed that no matter what happened in the world, and how many empires rose and fell, Rome would go on forever. So far, they’ve been proven right.

Today, the city retains its allure through a heady mixture of ancient ruins, stunning architecture, world-class art, and the simple pleasures that the Italians like to think they do best – namely coffee, ice cream and watching the world go by from a pavement café.

HOW TO GET THERE

There isn’t a huge range of options for flying from Ireland to Rome, so unless you fancy a connecting flight your first port of call will be Dublin airport.

Aer Lingus flies from Dublin to the main Leonardo Da Vinci airport by the coast, while Ryanair uses the smaller Ciampino to the south-east of the city. You may be surprised to know that it’s the closer of the two to the city centre, although the transport links aren’t quite as good.

Leonardo Da Vinci aka Fiumicino Airport

Leonardo Da Vinci aka Fiumicino Airport

Aerial view of Fiumicino, Italy by Julo is licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Express train

From Da Vinci, the Leonardo Express departs for the city centre every 15 minutes between 7am and 9pm – every 30 minutes at other times. The journey takes half an hour and tickets cost €14 one-way – be sure to buy one before you get to the platform as it’s more expensive to buy there, and don’t forget to stamp it before boarding the train.

Commuter train

The Regional FL1 trains serve other stations in Rome, so if you aren’t staying in the city centre it may be worth using them instead. They’re cheaper (€8 one-way) and they depart every 15 minutes on weekdays, or every half-hour at weekends. The train station is within the airport – just follow the signs.

Buses

Da Vinci is served by a number of buses, which each take you to the city centre in around 45-60 minutes. Most depart from the bus hub outside Terminal 3, to your right as you leave Arrivals. You can pay on the bus – much more convenient than booking online, which ties you to a specific departure time.

Taxis

There is a taxi rank outside each terminal. It’s not unknown for tourists to be conned by rogue drivers, so make sure your taxi is white with a TAXI sign on the roof and a clearly displayed licence number. The city authorities have capped the fare at €48 from Da Vinci to the centre of Rome. Confirm this with the driver before you get in, and call +39 (0) 60606 if you have any problems.

Alternatively, you could try Uber – but, as ever, watch out for fare surging.

Car hire

You can hire a car from Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo and several other local firms. The car hire area is accessible via a pedestrian tunnel – follow the signs from Arrivals.

Don’t forget, if you’re an AA customer, you get to up to 10% off and add an additional driver for free with Enterprise, Alamo and National Car Rental, our AA Rewards partner. To get a quote or book click here.

Ciampino Airport

There is no direct rail service from Ciampino to the city centre, so unless you want to catch a bus to the nearest railway station, which just adds an extra leg to your journey, it’s best to take a direct bus or taxi.

Buses

As with Da Vinci, a range of buses will take you to the city centre. They all leave from stops opposite International Departures. Fares are between €4-6 and the journey should take around 35-45 minutes.

Taxis

The taxi rank is right outside the terminal building. Again, follow the advice above to make sure you get an official taxi, and confirm the maximum fare with the driver. In this case, it’s €30 to the city centre. Uber may well be cheaper so it’s worth a try if you use it.

Car hire

You can hire a car from Avis, Alamo, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and several other local firms. The offices are a short distance away from the terminal, but a complimentary shuttle service is available.

Don’t forget, if you’re an AA customer, you get to up to 10% off and add an additional driver for free with Enterprise, Alamo and National Car Rental, our AA Rewards partner. To get a quote or book click here.

GETTING AROUND

Rome is a sprawling city, but the historic centre is relatively compact and so you can explore much of it on foot – and so you should, with all of those pavement cafés and gelaterie to try out!

That said, you will be well served by the city’s extensive public transport system for those longer distances, with buses, trams, a metro, and a suburban train system available to use.

Photo ‘local railway Rome Laziali – Giardinetti’ by Reinhard Dietrich – public domain.

Metro

The two main lines are A (orange) and B (blue), and they cross at Termini, the main train station. Trains run between 5.30am and 11.30pm (to 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays).

Buses

Buses generally run from 5:30am until midnight, with a limited service overnight. There is also an extensive network of night buses that runs between 1am and 5am.

Taxis

You can hail a taxi on the street or from a rank, which are plentiful around the city. As always, make sure the taxi is official (white with a TAXI sign on the roof and a clearly visible licence number) and that the meter is on. Don’t agree on a set fare unless you are travelling to or from the airport, when the fare is capped (see the airport section above).

If you phone for a taxi rather than picking one up, be aware that the meter starts running from wherever the driver receives your job – not when you get in to the car. You can book a taxi by phoning the Comune di Roma’s automated taxi line on +39 (0) 60609 or calling a company direct. The website www.060608.it has a list – click on the Transports tab, then Getting Around, then By Taxi.

Tickets

Public transport tickets are valid on all of the bus, tram and metro lines except for routes to Da Vinci airport. They are as follows:

BIT (single journey, valid for 100 minutes) €1.50

Roma 24h (valid for 24 hours) €7

Roma 48h (valid for 48 hours) €12.50

Roma 72h (valid for 72 hours) €18

CIS (weekly ticket) €24

Abbonamento mensile (a monthly pass – a single user €35; multiple users €53)

Children under 10 travel free.

You can buy tickets at tabacchi, news-stands and from vending machines at main bus stops and metro stations. Just make sure you stamp your ticket on the bus, or before you get onto your tram or train, using the validation machines available.

THINGS TO DO

There are so many different things to see and do in Rome that the difficulty will be deciding what not to do – it just depends on how long you’re planning on staying for. Here are some of our favourite attractions that we recommend seeing while in the Eternal City:

TREVI FOUNTAIN

TREVI FOUNTAIN

Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

One of the most beautiful and most iconic monuments in Rome, and it’s free of charge. We recommend going before 10am as it’s much quieter and you’ll get a much better view of the fountain. Don’t forget to follow the tradition of throwing a coin over your shoulder and into the fountain. The legend goes that doing so guarantees that you will one day return to Rome.

Location: Piazza di Trevi, Rome

Getting there:

Metro: Line A – Barberini stop (seven minute walk)
Bus: Line 40 Express, 53, 62, 63, 80, 83, 85 (Via del Tritone stop)
Tram: Line 8

Opening times: 24/7

THE COLOSSEUM, ROMAN FORUM & PALATINE HILL

THE COLOSSEUM, ROMAN FORUM & PALATINE HILL

Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built and one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions. It sits to the east of The Roman Forum, which was the political centre of ancient Rome. Palatine Hill is also directly beside the Roman Forum, and was home to many Roman emperors, including Augustus.

A ticket here guarantees you entry to all three venues over a two-day period. The ticket prices vary, with free entry to under-18s, €7.50 for EU citizens between 18 and 25 years old and all EU teachers, and €12 for adults. The Colosseum is free for everyone on the first Sunday of every month.

Audio and guided tours are available.

Location: Piazza del Colosseo, Rome.

Getting there:

Metro: Line B – Colosseo stop
Bus: Line 75, 81, 673, 175, 204
Tram: Line 3

Opening times:

Last Sunday in October until February 15 – 8:30am to 4:30pm
February 16 to March 158:30am to 5pm
March 16 to the last Saturday of March – 8:30am to 5:30pm
Last Sunday in March until August 31 – 8:30am to 7:15pm
September 1-30 – 8:30am to 7pm
October 1 to the last Saturday in October – 8:30am to 6:30pm

Last entry is one hour before closing time. The Colosseum is closed on May 1 and Christmas Day.

For even more information, check out our dedicated post on the Colosseum here.

THE PANTHEON

THE PANTHEON

Photo by Keith Yahl. License: CC-BY-SA 4.0

The Pantheon is the best preserved monument of Ancient Rome. It was originally built as a pagan temple to the Gods of Rome, but was given to the Catholic Church in 609 AD. There is no entrance fee to The Pantheon unless you want to do a guided tour; in which case there is a fee per person.

Location: Piazza della Rotonda, Rome.

Getting there:

Metro: Line A – Barberini stop (15 minute walk)
Bus: Line 40, 60, 64 (get off at Piazza Argentina and walk from there)
Tram: Line 8

Opening times:

Monday – Saturday: 8:30am – 7:30pm (last admission 7:15pm)
Sunday: 9am – 6pm (last admission 6:45pm)
Public holidays: 9pm – 1pm (last admission 12:45pm).

The Pantheon closes on the following dates:

New Year’s Day
May 1
Christmas Day

Visits are not allowed during Masses (Holidays: 10.30am; Saturday: 5pm).

ST. PETER’S SQUARE AND BASILICA

ST. PETER’S SQUARE AND BASILICA

Photo by Fred Hsu. Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches ever built. The Basilica is home to the Vatican Grottoes, where the tombs of Popes including John Paul II are located. Entrance to the main Basilica is free. It’s also possible to visit the dome designed by Michelangelo (8am to 4:45pm every day from October to March, 8am to 5:45pm from April to September), but there is an entry charge. Note that you must be dressed appropriately (shoulders covered and not too much leg showing), otherwise you will be denied access.

If you want to see the Pope, he usually appears on Sundays at 12 noon, when he comes to the window to pray and bless the crowd in St Peter’s Square. No ticket is required. Otherwise, you can also attend the general audience address held in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday’s, although advance tickets are required for this.

Location: Piazza San Pietro, Rome

Getting there:

Metro: Line A – Ottaviano stop (10 minute walk)
Bus: 23, 34, 40 & 62
Tram: 19

Opening times:

Monday – Sunday: From 7am to 6pm (until 7pm during winter), except on Wednesdays (if there is the papal audience, the Basilica remains closed until 12 noon).

SISTINE CHAPEL

SISTINE CHAPEL

Photo by BriYYZ under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.

Part of the Vatican Museums, its status as one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world is thanks to the spectacular ceiling fresco painted by Michelangelo. Admission charges: full price €16, concessions €8 (children aged 6-18).

Audio and guided tours are available.

Location: Viale del Vaticano

Getting there:

Metro: Line A – Ottaviano stop (10 minute walk)
Bus: 23, 34, 40 & 62
Tram: 19

Opening times:

Monday – Saturday: 9am – 6pm (last entry 4pm)
Every last Sunday of the month: 9am – 2pm (last entry 12:30pm)

Honourable mentions:

  • Centro Storico
  • Spanish Steps
  • Piazza Navona
  • Villa Borghese
FEELING INSPIRED?

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Chris Jones
jonesc@theaa.ie