Let’s go: One day in Rome

It’s time to travel to one of the most ancient cities in Europe.

Through its 2,700 years of being a civilized city, Rome, Italy, has been continuously inhabited and has served as headquarters to the Roman Empire and Roman Catholic Church. In other words, the city of Rome has made a big impact on the rest of the world.

Today, Rome is like one giant museum. Home to over 2.6 million people, the city has a variety of ancient architecture, spanning over two millenniums.

Flying in

Rome is home to two major airports. Rome airport Fiumicino (or the Leonardo da Vinci airport of Rome) is located 16 miles southwest of the city. Once we’ve arrived via airplane, we can easily get to the city by train.

Rome airport Fiumicino is the sixth busiest airport in Europe and the busiest airport in Rome. Rome’s smaller airport, Rome Ciampino Airport, was replaced by Rome airport Fiumicino on January 15, 1961, but the smaller airport stays open for domestic flights and charter operations.

Railways in Rome

The train is one of our options for affordable public transportation.

The central railway station in Rome is Termini Station (Termini also serves as the city’s primary bus station and as a hub for the metro system). There are three types of trains in Rome: frecciarossa trains, intercity trains, and regional or local trains.

Frecciarossa trains are said to be the pride of the Italian railways. These high-speed trains are nearly twice as fast as the others. Intercity trains are normal trains with stops in major towns. And then regional/local trains are the opposite of high-speed frecciarossa trains. These trains are slow and relatively basic, so the price is typically 10-20 percent of the price paid for their much faster counterpart, the frecciarossa train.

We can take the Leonardo Express, a train that operates from Rome airport Fiumicino to Termini Station in the center of Rome. From there, we have a couple of options: to explore on foot, take a bus, or hop on the metro!

Metropolitana

Let’s take the metro from Termini Station. Think of the metro like a “subway” or “underground” system. The Roman metro, often called “Metropolitana” by residents, travels around the historic city (in a circle) rather than through it.

Termini Station. Photo from Flickr user David McKelvey
Termini Station.
Photo from Flickr user David McKelvey

The Roman metro has three lines: A, B, and C, and a new branch off of the B line called “B1.” Lines A and B cross one another to form an “X” shape, and they intersect at Termini Station.

Line A would take us mainly northwest and southeast. Line B, which runs southwest, will take us right past the Colosseum and then northeast in a single course. Lines A and B run from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and until 1:30 a.m. on Saturdays. The metro comes every 7 to 10 minutes or so.

We probably won’t need to use line C, which isn’t connected to the rest of the network yet. Line C doesn’t have much value when it comes to sightseeing.  

We can purchase our tickets for the metro from newsstands, tobacco stores, or vending machines. We can use the same tickets on other forms of public transportation, like the bus and tram.  

The Roman metro is efficient, but travelers say to beware of rush hour crowds! Regardless, it is said to be the most reliable transportation in Rome.

Sightseeing

Today we’re going to visit the Colosseum. To get there, we just need to hop on metro line B.

A look inside the Colosseum. Photo from pixabay.com
A look inside the Colosseum.
Photo from pixabay.com

Originally known as Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum was commissioned in 72 C.E. by Emperor Vespasian. The emperor would stage deadly combats of gladiators and wild animal fights for public viewing in hopes to gain popularity. Believe it or not, that’s what people used to do for entertainment.

The Colosseum is huge. During its years of operation, it allowed for 55,000 spectators. The gladiator fights were attended by the rich, the poor, and frequently by the emperor himself. The fights continued until Christianity eventually had an effect on the morality of the city, putting an end to this form of deadly entertainment.

Today the Colosseum, or what remains, serves as one of the most popular attractions in Rome!

The bus and tram

Two forms of public transportation we didn’t get to use today are the bus and tram.

There are hundreds of bus lines in Rome, running from 5:30 a.m. until midnight. The main bus terminal stations are Termini and Piazza Venezia.

Rome also has night buses, which run from 12:30 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. Night buses are marked with an owl. On the night bus, you can purchase your tickets on board.

The bus and tram systems serve both directions. We’ll take a bit of a closer look at tram systems in our next article: “Let’s go: One day in Instanbul.”  

Don’t forget about taxis

Like any other major city in the world, Rome has taxis, but remember to look for official, metered, white or yellow taxis. Travelers recommend making certain that your taxi is metered, and insisting on the metered fare instead of a fixed rate.

To learn more about taxis from a real traveler’s perspective—and other ways to get around this ancient city—check out our Go! Interview: “Rome through the eyes of a traveler.”

Departing

Next up, we’re exploring one of the most interesting cities in the world: Istanbul, Turkey. We’ll talk about how to get to there from Rome in our next article. Here’s a hint: we need to head back to the airport!

By Hannah Postlethwait, Go! Staff Writer