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Best way to get around in Rome

We are traveling to Rome next May and will be staying in an apartment on Via Merulana, visiting all the 'biggies' while we're there (Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum & Roman Forum, Borghese Gallery, various piazzas & churches, maybe a half day in Osti Antica (sp?). I've researched the Roma Pass a little but it seems pretty expensive for the number of days it covers and I know the Rome subway system isn't as good as what we had in London & Paris last year. So would it be worth it to get the Roma Pass or is there something else that would work better for us? I should mention we are in our young 60's and don't have mobility issues (at least not yet). We'll be in Rome for 5 nights, beginning May 12th then we travel by train to Venice for 3 nights. Thanks for any insights.

Posted by
1533 posts

We (husband and myself 6
3/59) found Rome to be very walkable. We were there for 5 nights as well.
Not sure where Via Merulana is but we stayed near Pantheon and walked everywhere other than taking a cab to Vatican for our early morning tour and cab from hotel to Borghese. We walked home from both the Vatican and Borghese. We walked to/from Colosseum, home from Basilica San Clemente, etc. We also took a cab over to Trastevere but then just walked home.
All cab rides were just 10 Euros, we thought we might take a bus here or there and just buy tickets as needed, but we never bothered- just walked!

Posted by
11983 posts

Via Merulana where? It's quite a long street from Santa Maria Maggiore Church to San Giovanni Laterano.

You are not exactly in the historical center in the middle of what you intend to see, so you will likely use some form of public transportation (unless you like to walk a lot). You are not that far from the metro stations, so you could have some use for it (at least to the Vatican or even Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps).

The BIT (Biglietto Integrato a Tempo=Integrated Hourly Ticket) is the standard ticket. If you use it on the metro (subway) it's valid for a single ride. If you use the bus or tram, it's valid for 100 min. from the time of first validation on the first bus/tram (then you have unlimited transfers for 100 minutes). It costs 1.50 euro. You will likely need at least 2 of these a day. One to get to the historical center and once to come back to the apartment at night. You could walk from/to the apartment to the historical center or to the sights, but it's a long walk.

Then there is the BIG (Biglietto Integrato Giornaliero=Integrated Daily Ticket). This is valid for a day from the time of first validation. You can use it multiple times during the day on the bus (unlimited transfers) and multiple unlimited times also on the metro. It costs 6 euro. If you plan to take public transportation more than 4 times a day, it might be worth it.

There are also 3 day tickets, called BTI (same as the BIG, but valid 3 days) for 16.50 euro, or a weekly ticket (same as above the 7 days) for 24 euro (the weekly I think it's called CIS).

I would buy (but this is just me) a few standard tickets (BIT) for 1.50 euro each. I've stayed in hotels not far from the area where you are staying a few times, and in my experience, once I take the metro to the historical center, I tend to walk a lot and don't take the metro again until it's time to get back to the hotel. But if you think you'll go back to the apartment at least once in the middle of the day (maybe to rest a bit at midday) maybe the 3 day ticket for 16.50 or even the weekly ticket for 24 euro, might be worth it.

Posted by
694 posts

Roberto, we are pretty much in the middle of Via Merulano, 215 is the address. It looks very near a Metro stop which we would use for the Spanish Steps & Vatican. I thought we could walk to the Colosseum & Roman Forum area. Thank you for the info. It really helps.

Posted by
31076 posts

Diana,

My suggestion would be the same as those from Roberto. I typically use a B.I.G. ticket when in Rome, and find it to be very convenient. Once validated, it's good for the whole day until midnight, on all forms of transit within the central part of Rome (Metro, Bus, Tram, etc.).

Depending on what touring you're planning, using a B.T.I. (3 day) ticket along with a Roma Pass may be a good combination for five days.

Posted by
390 posts

Side question, to purchase them at a tabacchi, what are they casually called? Though I can say all the 3 words, I bet the workers would just be waiting for me to finish talking to get them for me.....

Posted by
752 posts

Such a beautiful street, Via Merulana, the most beautiful in Rome, I think, lined with big beautiful trees, very shady, very homey, like big tree-lined streets in small-town America. It has a Paradise atmosphere.

I love Via Merulana, my favorite street in all of Rome. When I lodged on Via Merulana, i tried walking to the Colosseum and turned back. It's farther than you think. There are so many bus stops on Via Merulana and so easy and fast to Piazza Del Cinquecento, the bus terminal at Termini, that I just took the bus to the Colosseum. Same for the Vatican, it's far, take the bus. Same for all the other sites you want to visit. You can buy tickets at stands that sell souvenirs, papers, maps, etc. inside Termini.

You got only 5 nights, Rome is bigger than you think, it's bigger than life, and the bus will quickly show you more of what Rome has to offer than what you can find on foot. Two buses will get you to Ostia Antica, it takes awhile to get there. You will walk aplenty once you arrive at your sites.

Google Via Merulana 215, touch the red dot on the map, and move the map a bit to see its great location and all the wonderful places around it.

Posted by
694 posts

Sandra, I looked at a lot of places on airbnb and vrbo before selecting this apartment and it was because of all the beautiful trees and the lovely balcony overlooking the street that I chose it. Thanks for the info on the buses. We didn't use them in either London or Paris because we were confused by them & the Tube and Metro were just so easy but will def try and figure them out in Rome. Thanks again.

Posted by
752 posts

There is a big green and white kiosk on the orher side of the taxi lanes as you leave Termini and enter the bus terminal at Piazza del Cinquecento. On the window of that kiosk is a list of which buses go to which sites. Take a picture of that list with your smartphone. The various platforms on the plaza display diagrams showing where to catch the bus you want, and the bus stops are clearly marked at the platforms.

Look at the list of stops posted on a sign at the platform for the bus you want. Count the stops so you know where to deboard, or remember the stop before your stop. If you don't know your stop, ask the driver or other passengers.

To get a bus route map you have to descend two flights down the subway hub that is beyond the kiosk. The list and the diagrams are enough to get you started. Rome bus service is much easier than Firenze and Napoli.

You already have a heads-up lodging on magical Merulana. Perfetto.

Remember to validate your tickets when you board a bus. The bus cops are real. If you can't reach the validator box, let the other passengers surf the ticket to the box and back to you. Whoever is near the box will validate your ticket.

Posted by
11734 posts

Diana, I'll agree with just purchasing individual tickets, BIG or BTI pass. Like Christine - and we're in her same age group - we've walked all over Rome, and only used the metro a few times (never the bus). It's more compact that you might think, and walking is going to give you a different perspective than you'll get inside public transport. The streets are where the life is, and you'll want to take some little detours down a few which look interesting.

The trouble is, that's almost ALL of them. :O)

Katherine, we never had to call the tickets/passes by their full names, Just ask for how many BITs (hold up fingers if you need to ), BIGs, etc. you want. You shouldn't have any trouble being understood.

Posted by
752 posts

You might want to start with the Hop On-Hop Off buses parked at the Piazza del Cinquecento bus terminal, they are educational and informative, and you can hop off and on all day as the bus arrives at sites you want to explore. The attendants will explain the tickets to you.

You can always return on foot to check out streets as you desire. Even with bus rides, there is a tremendous amount of walking involved in visiting Rome.

Posted by
390 posts

haha you just say 3 BIT? I guess we should be able to figure it out :-D haha

Posted by
11613 posts

There are a few major bus hubs, the ones you will most likely use are at Piazza del Cinquecento, Piazza Venezia, and Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano. All the stops have the charts mentioned above, and some bus stops have electronic boatds that show waiting times.

I use single tickets and walk a lot.

Posted by
5399 posts

We got the Roma Pass for the quick entry to Colosseum -- with the Borghese Gallery entry cost, the 3-day transit pass was almost a freebie. Used metro and bus rides.

Posted by
9454 posts

Laura B made a point I will reinforce: the Roma Pass will get you to the head of the line and makes HO-HO off the metro and buses easy. Even if you just break even, the time saved is worth it. If you are visiting the Colosseo and the Galleria Borghese, it is definitely worthwhile if you can make those two site your first two uses.

Posted by
11613 posts

The Roma Pass will get you to the Catacombs and Ostia Antica by bus/metro. I like the little electric buses (#s 116 and 117) to get close to places in the Centro Storico that the big buses can't reach.

Posted by
11613 posts

@ Quirite, teensy keyboard, no coffee; it would be in the exurbs, no? Corrected. Thanks!

Posted by
7737 posts

One advantage to the multi-day passes is that you don't have to continue to validate them after the first validation. It saves you the hassle of trying to get to the validation box on a crowded bus, plus it draws less attention to you as a tourist. (Pickpockets target the most obviously clueless tourists.)

Posted by
3383 posts

Like Laura B above, we used 3-day Roma Passes for entry to sights and tram/bus/metro transportation for some of our weeklong stay 2 years ago. There's now also a cheaper 2-day Roma Pass, if that would work better into your plans.

Posted by
1589 posts

While the subway isn't the best, it is safe & inexpensive.

Posted by
752 posts

It's Not fair of me if I don't warn about Rome's buses. Be prepared to take taxis in Rome. That's what fellow travelers did at my B and B when they saw how ill I became after riding around all day on Rome's hot buses. This was just a few months ago in September.

Some have AC, some don't. Oddly on the day before I was to leave, all the buses were increasingly hotter than the one before. The last bus however felt like I was baking in an oven. When that bus hit Termini, I was done.

I always lodge near Termini and so got to my room quickly, but I caused concern to my hosts and other travelers. My hosts advised the others to take buses only very early in the morning or in the evening when it cools down.

Some families took the subway. I don't like the amount of walking involved in taking the subway, and it's so busy, just as crowded as the buses, but the cars are nice. Those who opted for the taxi did better.

Just be sure you do your homework so you know taxi costs in Rome before you venture out.

Posted by
11613 posts

Sandra's post reminded me: stay hydrated during the summer!

Posted by
694 posts

A couple of you mentioned Gallery Borghese and using the Roma Pass for entry. I thought you had to prebook this in order to get it. How would I prebook and use the Roma Pass for entry? Thanks!

Posted by
3383 posts

We phoned ahead for our Borghese Gallery reservation, then when we arrived at the appointed day & time, we showed our Roma Pass at the reservations desk to receive our entrance ticket.

Posted by
11613 posts

I believe the Borghese Gallery prefers that you let them know you will be using the Roma Pass for entry, just tell them when you make the reservation.

Posted by
127 posts

We find the weekly bus/metro pass the best value to get around in Rome. True, it is an easy city to walk in and you will be doing a lot of that, but you can also get downpours of rain in May and being able to get on the metro or bus is awfully nice. It is also nice when you are tired and have walked for miles and simply don't want to walk anymore. I think that you will find that it pays for itself quite quickly.

Posted by
11734 posts

Diana, yes you have to make a reservation in advance for the Borghese even if using the Roma pass. You can find the information on how to do that here:

http://www.romapass.it/p.aspx?tid=33&l=en#faqq38

And yes, Katherine, just ask for 3 (hold up fingers if necessary) BIT or however many you wish to tuck in your pocket.. I didn't have any trouble purchasing them from newsstands and tabbcchi at all. They usually have signs that they carry tickets. :O)

To Sandra's point about the buses, we evidently share the same weak stomach! Other than the smooth bus shuttles to/ from the airport, my tender tum would never survive a hot, crowded ride through Roman streets. Bleh. :O(