My family (four adults and one 12 year old girl) are taking a 15-day trip to Italy in June. Our in-bound flight from the U.S. arrives in Rome FCO at 8am. Our plan is to take the train from Rome to Florence where we will start our trip. We are trying to make train reservations but not sure how much time to allow between our flight arrival, customs, and Leonardo Express airport train to Roma Termini. We will be traveling with carry-on bags, so baggage claim should not be a time consideration. What is the earliest train time from Rome Termini to Firenze S.M. that is reasonable to book? Additionally, is it worth booking the Leonardo Express airport train in advance or just buying a ticket from the station? Thank you.
Many do not recommend buying train tickets on arrival because your plane can be delayed. I would just plan on buying the whole thing on arrival--easiest would be by app.
Get the Trenitalia app and purchase both LE tix and your fast train to Florence once you land
Flights are often delayed and no way to know how long passport control will take.
Airport trains can't sell out, so there is no reason to run the risk of wasting those 70 Euro. There is free wifi at FCO, you can install trenitalia's app now, get used to it and click buy after immigration. Same if you prefer to use Italotreno.it
The only reason to buy high speed trains tickets in advance is to grab the capacity controlled discounted tickets. The caveat is that you must be ready to lose your money: those tickets can't be refunded. If you are one minute late at the track, you have to buy 5 new tickets paying the top, walk-up BASE fare. Are you ok with such a risk? Have you determined how much money you could waste if your flight is severely delayed?
That said, since you have no checked luggage, I'd pick 10 AM from the departure hour drop-down menu on trenitalia.com/en.htm .
If your flight is delayed for around 4 hours, there is a way to bring back the good mood in the group: tell them that the direct FCO-Florence high speed train leaves from the airport station at 1:53 PM. It's something!
i would vote for getting a private taxi/van since there are 5 of you.
https://www.welcomepickups.com/. has been well reviewed. it would be 100 euro for 5 people with 5 suitcases. this is about the same price as 5 tickets on the Leonardo express. Probably more relaxing as well since you will have just arrived.
it would be 100 euro for 5 people with 5 suitcases. this is about the same price as 5 tickets on the Leonardo express.
It's would be 30 € more than the train and reputable limo companies like romecabs ask around 70.
A 50 € taxi would be cheaper than the LeoEx train, but I am not so sure a cab would be more relaxing. Aside from Rome's traffic around 9 AM, cars stop outside Roma Termini. Train passengers get off the LeoEx only 50 meters away from track #11, where most trains to Florence depart from.
They could save some money taking the FL1 airport train to Roma Tiburtina and pay 8 € per person instead of 14. All trains from Rome to Florence call at Roma Tiburtina after departing from Roma Termini
OP is going to Florence
If the discounted tickets are available for your day of travel I would look into the Frecciarossa that departs from the airport at 13:53 (1:53pm). That train requires no changes at Termini or Tiburtina, so you don’t have to worry about transferring from train to train with luggage, and it gets you to Florence shortly after 4pm. You also have over 5 hours between plane arrival and train departure, which should give you enough cushion even in case of substantial flight delay.
The savings are big. I checked for May and for 5 people the discounted tickets would be less than 100€ for all in standard class (Freccia Special fare). The full walk in base price for 4 adults and a child would be in excess of 280€. Of course of the plane is timely you have a long wait, but you can always kill time having brunch at the airport, freshen up, etc.
If waiting potentially 3+ extra hours before catching the train is too long for you, then pay the full base price when you get there at the airport station. Anything less than 4 hour cushion for me would be too risky. From time of landing to the time you can comfortably be at the airport station ready to board the train (once you factor in deplaning, immigration, baggage claim, etc) you need 90 minutes/2 hours in most circumstances. So adding 2 hours to account for a possible flight delay to avoid the risk of losing €100 in pre-purchased tickets would be the minimum for me.
Also consider Italo Train, especially if you are willing to take the risk of buying nonrefundable discounted tickets. If you create an account and sign up for emails, they seem to release a new discount code every Friday, today's was 10-30% off. If you just go to their website there's usually a banner offering the discount code. It looks like Italo ticket prices (both full fare and discounted) for Rome - Florence are less than trenitalia, although you'd have to separately get to either Termini or Tiburtina (only trenitalia services those runs). Both companies run fast trains that are very similar.
You might want to look at this very detailed conversation regarding strategies for buying your tickets: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/trains-from-rome-to-florence-in-march-non-refundable-exchangeable-vs-base-what-about-premium
I appreciate all the helpful information. I am comparing the Frecciarossa train direct from the Rome Airport to Florence at 1:53pm to my options for transferring from the airport to the main train station with earlier departures.
On the Trenitalia website I can get an excellent "Together" fare for all 5 of us currently. It's non-refundable or changeable but at this price point seems worth the risk. That means we would be hanging out at FCO for 4-5 hours. What are my options? We will be tired from an international flight but will need to get a good meal and walk around a bit. Thank you!
Take a train to Roma Termini, enjoy the food court and the mall inside the station, take a peek at the Servian Walls from the famous Dinosaur Hall inside Roma Termini... Than jump on a train back to the airport to take the direct bullet train to Florence... Oh, wait...
Sorry, just a silly joke but airports are so boring and they all look the same these days!
In the past we've missed our connecting international flight and arrived an entire day late at our destination. I no longer immediately leave an airport city to go somewhere else. Once dealing with that kind of stress was enough for me. If you have any connecting stops before landing in Rome, then I would be doubly loath to immediately plan to go to another destination within Italy. Too many things can go wrong and not worth the stress. But, each person is different.
Spend at least 1 night in Rome. Get over your jet lag. Enjoy a partial day in Rome. Stretch your legs. Walk around. Then catch the express train to Florence.
If your plans require immediate departure to Florence and those can't be changed, be aware there are direct Frecciarossa trains from FCO to Firenze Santa Maria Novella that don't require the change in Roma Termini. These were added in 2022 I believe. Only a few direct FCO to SMN trains a day. The ItaliaRail website is a great resource and worth the small service charge for the ease of use. I would just give yourself 4 to 6 hours minimum between landing and train, if not longer in order to cover plane delays and immigration control lines. If you land on time and want something to do in your wait for the train, the Ostia Antica Roman ruins are nearby and you can get a taxi there and back. Or, spend the night in Fiumicino town near FCO, see Ostia Antica, and catch first direct to SMN train the next morning.
All, Thank you for the helpful feedback. Based on what I learned here, we’ve booked the direct train from the airport to Florence at 13:53 at a fantastic promotional price.