train vs bus

We are going to be in Italy for 16 days in early June. We had thought that we would take the train between areas where we will stay but it seems that the bus may be a better option. So, I need some comments here as to which is better and more efficient. We are going from Rome to Siena, Siena to Cinque Terre and Cinque Terre to Florence. We are going to rent a car in Siena to see Tuscany. Is it less expensive and faster to take the train or the bus or a combination of both to these locations? Thanks in advance for your help.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
5486 posts

I would definitely rent in Rome and drive to Siena. An alte.rnative would be to take a train from Rome to Orvieto, visit Orvieto, rent a car in Orvieto, stop by Civita and drive to Siena area. You could take a train to Siena or a train+bus, but it would involve train changes (either in Chiusi or in Florence) and if you have a lot of luggage, it might be a little hassle. If you weren't planning to rent a car at all, it would be a different story, but you are planning to rent one anyway, so you might as well save the train fare and rent from Rome. If you can drive in Seattle, you can drive in Rome just for the time necessary to get out of town. The road rules are the same, the only difference is that in Seattle you have to follow them strictly, in Rome you have some leeway (in Naples you could make your own rules). You should also keep the car to go to the Cinque Terre. You should return the car to the nearby city of La Spezia, just minutes away from the Cinque Terre by train. Then to return to Florence you should take a train (Cinque Terre > La Spezia > Pisa >Florence). It will require probably 2 train changes, one in La Spezia and one in Pisa.

Posted by Bob
Gettysburg, PA
1450 posts

All of these places are easily accessed by train- that is how I would go.

Posted by Susan
Issaquah, WA
23 posts

Thanks for the information. We have been advised against renting a car and driving to Tuscany/Siena because of the parking/driving sticker that you need in the towns. Apparently it is hard to get one and they are very expensive. We'd actually prefer to drive but 2 months ago when I asked the question all the responses said to take the train or bus. So HELP! What's the overall opinion now? We will be staying in Vernazza in Cinque Terre so how far is that from where we would turn the car in and then how would we get to Vernazza?
Thanks in advance for this additional help.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12858 posts

You are asking for an absolute right or wrong answer. You are not going to get that. Each has its own advantage and disadvantage so you need to decide which advantages or disadvantages are important to you. A car provides certain conveniences such as flexibility but have the problem of parking, potential of TLZ, speeding tickets, etc. The train or bus locks you into a schedule and a limitation on where you can go. Our preference is almost always in favor of bus and train simply because we are never in a hurry and do not mind adjusting to a train or bus schedule. Only you can decide what your priorities are.

Posted by Susan
Issaquah, WA
23 posts

Here is our itinerary: We are spending 4 nights in Rome, 5 nights in the Tuscany area (3 in Siena and 2 in San Gimignano) 4 nights in Vernazza in Cinque Terre and then 4 nights in Florence. We do love to drive, but, as I said, many people had advised against it in Florence and Rome and in Cinque Terre it is impossible. So, we had decided to take the train and just rent a car to drive around Tuscany. In researching the transportation issue from Rome, it appears that the bus takes less time. But, I have no experience with the transportation system in Italy so don't know what the bus vs train situation is. We have no problem taking public transportation, but just wonder what the differences are between the two. Hopefully that helps a little bit. We currently have been living in Portugal for the last 2 years, so certainly understand living and traveling abroad, but we normally rent a car when we have visited other countries. We haven't encountered the special permit nor the parking issues that are imposed in Italy. So at this point, I'm interested in the differences that others have encountered between driving between these places, vs. taking the bus vs. taking the train, and what others have found about taking the train vs. the bus in Italy. Thanks so very much. Susan

Posted by marie
west Chester, PA
87 posts

Susan, In Rome, there is NO NEED for a car and parking and driving will be a nightmare. This is also the case in Florence, NO car needed, parking and ZTL makes little mistakes very costly in fines. With that being said, and we have done this, I would train out to Siena and rent a car there and drop off prior to Florence (Lucca would be a great place, the car rental is right outside the walls and the train is right there). Also, getting to CT with a car is also going to be very difficult, so contact the hotel/albergo for exact directions of how to drive there and where to park. These cities and towns are ancient and they were not built with parking in mind! You must realize that the Italian train system is very efficient, not perfect. Some of the tiny towns do not have access to trains and the buses only run a few times a day, so these would be the places to explore with a car. Good luck!!