Getting Around in Rome

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Inner Rings of the Colosseum, Rome

Inner Rings of the Colosseum, Rome

Hema Narayanan

There are many ways to navigate through the streets of Rome, to and from all Rome activities, Rome hotels, and Rome restaurants. You can travel by bus, by metro, *gasp* by car, and on foot. The best way to travel, of course, is on foot as this is the best way to enjoy Rome to it's fullest. But, if you prefer other forms of travel for whatever reason, continue reading the Rome travel guide below on getting around to find out how to, well, get around!

By Bus: The city bus company is ATAC ( and most of the main buses terminate at the bus station outside Stazione Termini (where you can get a map of the bus routes). Buses run from around 6am to midnight with some services running throughout the night. For 1 euro you can travel for 75 minutes by any means of transportation.

By Metro: The city's Metro service ( has only two lines, A (red) and B (blue), both of which go through Termini. Unfortunately, the metro misses most of the historic district, which can be frustrating at times. The reason for this is because there is quite a bit of ancient Rome beneath the ground; enough so that they cannot dig a tunnel very far without running into some 2,000 year old brick wall, column or other such artifact. The metro automatic ticket machines only take exact change (and even then they are known to eat your money leaving you with nothing to show for it) so it is recommended that you buy your ticket from a tobacconist, newsstand or vending machine before you get on the train or bus (your bus tickets will also work on the metro). For the metro, validate your ticket before boarding the train; for the bus, look for the validation machines onboard. Use the orange validation machines for the old paper tickets and the yellow ones for the newer magnetic tickets. If you are caught without a validated ticket, the fine is 51.65 Euro. The metro runs about every 7-10 minutes, from 5:30am until 11:30pm everyday, except Saturday when it runs until 12:30am.

By Car: Driving in Rome is the next best thing to suicide - especially on a motorbike. The high-loaded traffic is one of the reasons people may be usually late for appointments. Most of the historic centre of Rome is closed to normal traffic although you will be allowed to drive to your hotel. You'll need to get a parking permit from the traffic police if you wish to park anywhere in the centre or you'll risk being towed.

To have the opportunity of using a car in Rome is a good point of freedom but there are also a lot of problems linked to it. If you’re with your own car, protect it really good with alarm systems (electronic or normal pedal blocker) and don’t leave the radio, your bags or other important things inside: they say that in the whole Italy they open or steal at an average of 2 cars per minute. If you can, during the night, park it in a safe controlled parking house like the "ParkSi" of Spain´s Square / Via Veneto.

To rent a car you'll need to be at least 21 years old. If you organize your car in advance it will cost you less. There are several rental agencies for cars motorbikes mopeds and bicycles. If you'd rather leave the driving to someone else you can pick up a cab from one of the city's many taxi ranks or phone one any time of day. If you call a cab the driver will turn the meter on as soon as he is rung rather than when he picks you up.

Another negative point is the traffic: the situation is very difficult due of the "work in progress" in many different areas of the city. Anyway, be aware of the fact that the traffic you’re going to find in Rome is a little bit wilder than normal and there are a lot of young people driving small scooters or big motorbikes often in a very dangerous way.

By Foot: Rome is a very easy city to navigate by foot, assuming you've procured a decent map. A decent place to find maps and other information is a company called "Enjoy Rome" located at Via Marghera, 8a near the Stazione Termini, Rome's central train station.

Although the modern metropolitan section of Rome is spread out, the historical center of the city is really quite compact. Even if you do get lost, you'll no doubt run into some baroque artwork or marble fountain that will make your trip worthwhile. After two or three days of walking though, you'll feel like a pro at navigating the Roman streets.

A word of caution: the motorists of Rome are quite speedy. According to Bill Bryson, people in Rome park their cars the way you or I would if we had just spilt acid in our laps. Crossing the street can seem like a daunting experience, but you really needn't worry. Make sure you follow these simple rules, and you'll be fine:

1. Only cross the street at crosswalks.

2. Don't wait on the street corners expecting the traffic to slow down. You'll be there forever.

3. Wait for a small break in the traffic and just go. The first time you try this, your heart will no doubt be beating in your throat the entire time, but you'll soon see. As soon as you start walking, and as if by some miracle, the cars, busses, trucks and everything will just stop to allow you to pass. This has often been likened to the story of Moses parting the Red Sea. Two pieces of advice on this subject: Don't dart deer-like across the street; that upsets the Romans. Also, whatever you do, don't under any circumstances stop in the middle of the road once you've started crossing. Hesitating only confuses and angers Roman drivers and their wrath could endanger your life. After the first few successful crosses, you'll see there really is nothing to it.

May 22, 2008 change by mcburton
April 14, 2004 change by jimshady
February 13, 2007 change by psychoralu

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On a bicycle

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There is the possibility to hire any kind of bike in Rome: from tandem, road bikes, children bikes to trekking bikes. Some shops are even specialized only on high quality ones while street stands will hire you cheaper and heavy ones. Bicycling alone can be stressful because of the traffic. The best way is to discover first how to moove around and avoid traffic and stress with a guide thanks to one of the  bike tours offered by almost all rental shops. There are different itineraries offered from the basic city center,panoramic Rome, to the Ancient Parks more..

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