We had an eight hour layover in Rome and used as much as we could in the city.
Arriving in the smaller airport, Ciampino, we knew we had three to four hours to do whatever we wanted in the city. So we took it and ran!
Getting a taxi or bus into Rome is very simple–just after customs there are multiple stands selling bus tickets, all around the same price. Most buses go directly to Termini, the central train station in Rome. We used the public fare bus, which was just 3.90 euros apiece. Of course, it’s public and Italian, so “on time” is a flexible understanding. The bus didn’t leave until it was full. It’s about a 30 minute trip to Termini, so we used it by prioritizing the things we wanted to see and talking about our plan. With so little time, we had to know what we wanted.
Termini is a metro station, bus station, train station, and shopping mall. It has three floors. Baggage storage is hidden away on the bottom floor behind a couple of columns. It took us 15 minutes to find it. So on our way out, Jordan took photos to help any other tourist in Rome. Below is the entrance. It’s down a very long hallway and the door is on your right.
The metro in Rome, thankfully, is easy to understand–unlike almost all other modes of transportation. It runs usually on time and has only two lines–blue and red. Purchase a BIG ticket (it lasts until midnight the day you buy it) and its unlimited for buses and metros within Rome. It costs around five euros. The stop for the Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum are two stops away from Termini and you can’t miss the Colosseum when you exit the metro.
Tickets to get in are 12 euros (unless you study architecture or art) and include all three: Palatine Hill, Forum, and the Colosseum. We had to race through them all, unfortunately, due to lack of time. But I’ve been to Rome before, so we knew what to look for and where to go.
Then we ran back to the metro station, jumped lines, and went to Ottoviano–the stop for St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s not right across the street, unlike the Colosseum. You do have to walk a little bit to get there. My first priority was to find the gelato shop near the Vatican museum I liked last time I was there. Even though it was chilly and drizzling, we found it and ate a lot of gelato. I think it tastes better under the summer sun, though. We even ducked into the cafeteria next door and ate lunch crepes, which I had done four years previously with my friends on my study abroad trip.
St. Peter’s was beautiful, even in the rain, but the line was far too long for us to enter. This was very disappointing to Jordan, who wanted to look around and see the Pieta. I recommend going in the morning, around 10 am, to skip the long lines. It’s what I did last time and we waited maybe five minutes.
We hurried back to Termini to buy train tickets to take us to the airport. Using one of the automated ticket machines is simple. The 1st class, high-speed train costs 14 euros per person and leaves roughly every 30 minutes. The platform the train arrives on is displayed on big LED screens above doorways in the central hall. We just hung out, looking at the screens, like everyone else, until the number was displayed next to our departing train. Sometimes platforms change, because, well, it’s Italy. Thankfully our train was just a few minutes late and we made it to the airport all in one piece.
All in all, we spent about three and a half hours actually walking around/touring Rome. It was hurried, but enjoyable. I had seen everything before, and Jordan just wanted a taste of Rome and Italy. Between gelato, crepes, delayed buses, and Roma people alternating between begging and pickpocketing at Termini, I think he got a real taste!
Now I just need to find a way to return to Venice….