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Fast Train from Rome's FCO to Florence

Hi all,

I recall reading here that Frecce trains run from the airport in Rome to Florence a few times a day but I am trying to make reservations for late August and I don't see any. All the trips are changing trains at Roma Termini and take 2 1/2 hours total time.

Am I missing something?

Thank you in advance!

Posted by
2043 posts

As I recall there is one at about 2 pm. I just checked Trenitalia 8/25 and don't see it now either
Could be it is all sold out?

Posted by
15944 posts

On the current schedule, the last one is on August 8. It gets back on the schedule on August 30. So it looks like a seasonal hiatus.
Nothing wrong with making a train change at Termini or Tiburtina. With only one per day, your timing has to be near perfect to get it anyway. The direct train is 2 hours and 18 minutes, saving all of 5 minutes over the connections.

Posted by
478 posts

On seasonal hiatus already? Right as tourists are coming back? Seems like a bad business model ;)

I guess we will have to transfer at Termini. How much time do we need to put between landing at FCO and Frecce train departure from Termini to Florence? I know in Paris the rule of thumb is 3 hours.

Thanks again all!

Posted by
2122 posts

Only a small number of European travellers would pay the extortionate high speed fare from FCO to Termini only to avoid a level transfer at Termini or a couple of escalators at Tiburtina: those direct Frecce trains were subsidized (i.e. Trenitalia gets paid by taxpayers) because they have never broken-even from FCO to Termini.

I guess that Covid has forced the involved Regions to put a stop to the worse waste of public money.

how much time

If you are thinking of buying a discounted ticket, note that they can't be changed 1 minute after the departure of the booked train.

Posted by
478 posts

Hi Dario -- I am looking for a nonstop fast train from FCO to Santa Maria Novella.

I didn't realize we would have to change trains after arriving from the U.S. with all of our luggage at Rome Termini or Tiburtina. But it sounds like we do.

Posted by
25548 posts

what time do you expect to land, CaliMom? Does it fit with the one direct train a day at 13:53 when it resumes?

That, by the way is not a nonstop. While direct, no changes, it still goes to Rome first, calling at Termini(stops for 10 minutes) and then Roma Tiburtina before Firenze SMN where it turns around and heads off to Venice via Bologna and Padova.

Does that time work with your flight?

Posted by
2122 posts

Hi Dario -- I am looking for a nonstop fast train from FCO to Santa Maria Novella.

There are no nonstop trains from FCO to Firenze SMN. If they didn't stop at Termini to let people get on, they'd run virtually empty up to Florence.

My warning above is about the type of fare, not the type of train.

with all of our luggage at Rome Termini or Tiburtina.

If you are worried about the transfer because of luggage, use wheeled suitcases and change at Roma Termini instead of Tiburtina.

Posted by
478 posts

Hi Nigel - It is for my college-age daughter and two friends, none who speak Italian and all will have checked bags. I just want it to be as easy as possible and their school wants to know exactly what train they will be on and when they will arrive in Florence.

Posted by
2043 posts

I’d book a train around noon, gives them plenty of leeway
Not too late to learn a few phrases in Italian especially if they’ll be students in Florence

Posted by
25548 posts

Thanks for the detail, CaliMom.

I really don't think that they will have any problems. It is a lot easier than it sounds.

If they can learn 6 words of Italian they will be fine.

Treno = train

Partenze = Departures

Roma = Rome

Firenze = Florence

Per favore = Please

Grazie = thank you

... they will be fine. Before they leave California you will have allowed sufficient time so they can catch the train they need at Roma Termini, and they will have walked the connections at the airport and the station by Instagram or YouTube, and they will know the number of their train (all the signs will have the train number but may not all have all the stops listed; always has the number, and numbers look the same in Italian).

They will be fine.

Posted by
478 posts

Thanks Christine, Dario and Nigel!

They all have to take Italian Language and Culture as one of their courses but yes, they need to know a few phrases. :)

Looking at the Trenitalia website, they can have 3 1/2 hours to buffer a possible late flight, go through customs, collect their luggage, etc. Seems like more than enough time.

I can book the entire ticket: the Leonardo Express to Roma Termini, then change trains with a 15-minute window to a Frecciarossa. Yes, they can figure that out. This is why we send them abroad, right? :)

Posted by
15944 posts

On seasonal hiatus already? Right as tourists are coming back? Seems like a bad business model ;)

The exact opposite. Its August and all the Italians are on vacation. They will not be flying into Fiumicino, they are already in Italy. There is no substantial business being done, no conventions, no trade shows. Plus Trenitalia employees like vacations as well, so it is the perfect time to reduce service. There are still plenty of trains running.

If you land at 7:45 am, why would you want to wait around the airport with all your luggage for 4 hours when there are trains to Florence (with a single connection) every 30 minutes or so.

Posted by
478 posts

Thanks Sam!

Maybe the girls don't need 4 hours? I was going based on recommendations. How long do you think they need to catch the Leonardo Express? Trains are once per hour to transfer at Termini (which also was recommended as an easier station to transfer given the girls all will have two checked bags each.

Posted by
2043 posts

CaliMom
They will be fine
Our daughter spent a term in Barcelona when she was 19
From there she visited Prague, Dublin, Florence, Amsterdam, Paris and more… on her own
She has since travelled to most continents and has always returned unscathed ;)
I worry more about her now at 33 living in NYC.

Posted by
15944 posts

If it was me, I would not buy a ticket at all now, I'd buy it when I got my luggage at Fiumicino, then I would be able to get the next available train. Looking at August 29, there is not much of a discount buying in advance. The full price is 14 EUR for the Leonardo Express (always the same price) and 50 EUR (or a bit more depending on the train) for a standard Base fare from Rome to Florence.

Having said that, the trains do look busy on August 29, with a few with no Standard seats left and only Business/First seats available. Even Base fare tickets can only be changed 1 hour after the original ticketed train has departed. So even if you left a 3 hour window, your plane could be very late and still have to buy new Base fare tickets. Keep in mind that there are fast Frecce trains from Rome to Florence every 30 minutes or less.

Posted by
478 posts

Thanks Sam. Good to know.

Yes, I see they are every half hour from Roma Termini. I will watch the schedule and see if it starts filling up. It is the last weekend of August so perhaps Italians are returning from vacations and need to get home.

But, it looks like the worst-case scenario - if we don't buy advance tickets - is the girls pay up for a first-class seat or wait for a later train.

Can they buy the full ticket at the airport if they want -- meaning FCO - Roma Termini - Firenze SMN? Or are you saying take the "next" Leonardo Express from FCO once they have their bags, then go a Frecce ticket at Roma Termini for the "next" Frecce?

Posted by
15944 posts

They can buy thru tickets from Fiumicino Aeroporto to Firenze S.M.N. The Leonardo Express goes to Termini every 30 minutes. The ticket agent will get them the next available connection. Just have them start the conversation by politely asking "Do you speak English"? Good chance they will or will get another agent who does. Worst case, have them write down "Prossima partenza per Firenze S.M.N."

Posted by
478 posts

Thank you so much! :) I really appreciate it.

Now back to finishing my own trip plans.

Posted by
12244 posts

More words:

BINARIO = TRACK
MARCIAPIEDE = PLATFORM (it is also the word for "sidewalk", but in train stations it would be the platform)

Posted by
654 posts

Maybe the girls don't need 4 hours? I was going based on recommendations. How long do you think they need to catch the Leonardo Express

If it was my kids I'd either have them buy a walk-up ticket at Termini (about 50E). With a flight delay time can add up, and if things go quickly they're sitting tired in a train station for an hour or two. You just can't predict.

Figure getting thru arrival and getting to the Leonardo train is going to take at least 1 hour from touchdown with carry-on luggage. Add maybe 30 minutes to that for a checked bag. Unfortunately the Leonardo is not matched with when they walk over; worst case the train leaves before they can buy a ticket (maybe 10 minutes in line at the machine), so there's another 40 minutes worst-case. Then a 30 minute ride, plus 15 minutes to get to the departing train. So 2.5 hours, and that's for a flight arriving on time. Flight delays come on top of this

The machines in larger train stations are easy to use and have an English menu. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AbWuQTH4vc or other videos. They will be there mid-day so it's reasonably safe. Have one kid buy the tickets, the other stands there and watches their luggage (not the screen). Tell them don't allow anyone to offer to "assist" them.

Posted by
2122 posts

Wait, let's run back the tape and think a minute about it: we are talking about millennials landing into an airport with free wifi.

They won't ask or note down anything and they won't use the ticket machines: they'll download Trenitalia's app at home, get used to it and then they will use it at FCO. Like all their peers at FCO, they will click the buy button on trenitalia.com the moment they see their stuff on the carousel.

If I were them, while waiting for luggage I'd check Italotreno's schedules and fares before deciding to travel with Trenitalia all the way to Florence. A through ticket purchased on the same app is easier, but I'd rather make two separate purchases on two sites than waiting / paying more.

A couple more mumblings:

  • Since Italotreno too runs its high speed trains from Roma Termini to Firenze SMN, the chances of not finding a seat are really small;
  • when travelling only with carry-on I have always been on my way to FCO station within 40 minutes from touchdown; One hour or more seems a little too pessimistic even in late August;
  • while I am acting like a millennial by the airport carousel, when I see that the train to Termini leaves in 30 minutes, before buying I check when the next FL1 train to Roma Tiburtina departs. Most high speed trains going north call at Tiburtina after Termini;
  • Italotreno's full price tickets (called FLEX instead of BASE) can be changed up to 3 hours after the departure of the booked train.