My trip to Rome involved flying into Ciampino Airport CIA on a Ryanair flight from Krakow, Poland and flying out of Rome from Fiumicino FCO, the main international airport for USA flights and major alliance airlines.
I traveled for 3.20eur in 45 minutes from CIA airport to Rome Termini Station, the city’s main transportation hub for rail, bus and metro connections.
My ticket cost was 8.00eur from Rome Termini station to Fiumcino Airport for a 50 minute train ride on the Rome to Pisa line with a train change at Roma Ostiense. Depending on your time of day and train from Rome Termini, you might need to connect to the Fiumicino FCO airport train at Trastevere or Tiburtina stations.
The nonstop Leonardo Express is the faster and easier train option at 14.00eur per person and 32 minutes one way between the Rome Termini Station and Fiumicino FCO airport. Leonardo Express leaves from Platforms 23 and 24 in Termini Station every 15 minutes.
The local train arrives at the same location in Rome Fiumicino Airport on a different track. Plan on about ten minutes to walk through the airport interior between the main terminal area for arrivals and departures and the train station.
Rome Termini Station not so tourist friendly
I have traveled between many dozens of cities and airports around the world. Rome Termini Station was probably one of the least tourist friendly stations I have experienced. We arrived by Metro and there were signs indicating where to go to reach the trains to Rome Fiumicino, but in the crowded afternoon of a weekday wheeling our luggage from the Metro amid thousands of people in the interior mall between the Metro and the trains, we found ourselves at the train platforms with no tickets in hand.
I did not see train ticket offices or any signs for making airport ticket purchases on the route we walked from the metro to the train platforms. Near the train platforms were at least three different ticket kiosks for different train lines with no sign indicating Trenitalia is the only kiosk you can use for Rome FCO ticket purchases.
As I tried to buy our tickets from one kiosk without finding Fiumcino as a station option, a multilingual man in a wheelchair using his skills to assist tourists in making their FCO Airport train ticket purchases. He earned pocket change handouts from tourists in a resourceful way. He pointed me to the adjacent Trenitalia kiosk for our tickets to Rome Fiumicino Airport.
Purchasing our tickets from the Trenitalia automated kiosk was simple enough once we figured out which machine in busy Termini Station to use for the ticket purchase.
The ticket kiosk has English language directions, however, the printed ticket in Italian is far less explanatory if you are traveling by cheap train. You need to pay attention to the directions for which Rome train station to make your train change for the Fiumicino train when buying the lower priced 8.00eur ticket. Google Maps helped us.
The purchase is probably easier to make from the airport kiosks in a less hectic environment than busy Termini Station where about 500,000 people pass through each day. The three people buying tickets before us took nearly 20 minutes altogether to make their purchases with two of those travelers simply buying a ticket to Rome FCO.
After buying two 8.00eur tickets in the automated kiosk, then looking at the Italian language tickets, I kind of wished I had simply bought two Leonardo Express tickets for the simplicity of knowing where to go next for the train with no worry about which Rome train station to change trains.
Once we had the train tickets in hand we were able to pass through the security zone to the train tracks area. Only passengers with tickets can get through to the train platforms.
A woman at the Leonardo Express information booth beside platform 24 explained we had to go to Platform 28 for the Pisa train and change trains at Roma Ostiense station. Google Maps showed me Roma Ostiense station was 10 minutes away and we had 10 minutes there to make our train change.
There are machines on the train platform to stamp and validate train tickets.
Platform 28 was about a 10 minute walk up the tracks from Platform 24 in Roma Termini Station. I might have been more shocked at the distance from the station if we had not experienced a similar walk from a track way out from Termini Station when we arrived by cheap train from Rome Ciampino Airport a few days earlier.
The change of trains was simple to figure out at Roma Ostiense with monitors clearly showing the platform for Rome Fiumcino train and 10 minutes to make the walk from one platform to the other.
Elevator Warning: While most Metro and train stations we passed through in Rome had elevators, we found very few were operational. Be prepared to haul your luggage up and down stairs. More often than not signs in stations indicated elevators were out of order.
Our slow train left Roma Termini Station 7 minutes later than the Leonardo Express. We could have reached FCO at 16:37 for 28eur in train tickets. We arrived at Rome FCO at 17:03. The extra 26 minutes saved 12eur on our travel cost compared to the Leonardo Express.
Rome Ciampino Airport CIA – Ryanair and Wizz flights
Ciampino Airport is south of Rome and the main Rome airport for low cost airlines Ryanair and Wizz. Ciampino is also a cheaper airport for public transportation to Rome Termini Station.
There were multiple sales offices for bus tickets to Rome Termini, but the cheapest way appears to be paying 1.20eur (pay cash to driver) for the Atral white bus at platforms 3-4-5 for the ride around Ciampino Airport to the train station in Ciampino (5-10 minutes), then take the train to Rome Termini in 15 minutes.
Ciampino station was the first stop, but only some passengers exited the bus. Not sure where the bus goes from there. Ciampino town and station are not particularly attractive.
It was not clear to me we were outside the train station from where the bus stopped about 20 meters from the station entrance.
Trenitalia train interior
Trains were fairly modern looking with nice interiors and large overhead space for luggage.
There tend to be steps inside the trains to maneuver your luggage over.
From Termini Station there are Metro and bus transportation routes all over Rome. I chose Best Western Hotel Artdeco for our Rome stay due to its proximity to Termini Station. We walked to the hotel in about 15 minutes, but used a closer Metro station to our hotel for all our other travel around Rome once we figured out the city layout.
1.50eur for a Metro ticket is good for travel across the network. More on Rome Metro in a separate post.