Public Transportation in Italy

Vandalized trains are the rule, not the exception, in Rome.
Italy’s public transportation system is pretty good. From the airport, which like all major airports is really far outside the city, we took an express train that connected with Rome’s in-town train and bus system.

If you travel to Italy, Rome in particular, I suggest you find out as much about the transit system as you can in advance. There seemed to be few signs, pamphlets, etc. that explained how things worked. We never did figure out the buses in Rome. Several of our group members had to leave the bus one night in a bad neighborhood and take a €70 taxi ride back to the hotel. Most of the transit agencies have English on their web sites, so whatever you can figure out and print in advance would be to your advantage. Additionally, street maps are very hard to read. The signs on the roads are inconsistent and it was very hard to look at a street sign and figure out where you were on the map, unless you got a good map.

Buying our train ticket from the airport to the transit center was confusing since none of us had a good idea where we were going, none of the maps we had in travel guides were really any good, etc. The nice lady at the box office spoke about as much English as we did Italian, but by pointing to a map of where we wanted to go and making hand gestures, we were able to buy tickets and get instructions on which train to get on. We left the station not really knowing if we were on the right train or not, but it all worked out.

The national brand of trains, Trenitalia, look very old, but in fact are pretty clean, comfortable, and efficient. We made our way to Termini, the central train station in Rome. Many of the members in our group over-packed, so lugging their bags around got to be a chore. They didn’t really fit in the luggage holding areas of the trains; so many of them had to stand on the ride. The ride itself was smooth, but takes you through the more rundown areas of Rome with lots of graffiti and such.

The in-town train was a lot like the system in New York. It ran on-time most of the time, was jam packed with people, and had lots of graffiti. I used it quite a bit and found that it was a good way to get around town.

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