I'm in the beginning stages of planning my trip. We are flying directly into Rome from the states because we don't want to take the chance with connecting flights. Landing at around 8am. We are planning to continue to Florence. Trying to decide if we should get some rest and spend the night in Rome then leave for Florence the next day, or should we suck it up and head to Florence after we land? And if we suck it up, should I buy rail tickets ahead of time or wait to arrive in Rome in case of a flight delay?
With an 8AM arrival, keep on going to Florence.
should I buy rail tickets ahead of time or wait to arrive in Rome in case of a flight delay?
I think most would suggest the latter.
If you are the type that can get sleep on the plane ( I am ), then taking the train n the arrival day is o.k. BUT WAIT to buy the ticket at the station. About 75% of my flights have been 2 to 24 hours late
I agree that arriving at 8am makes it practical to continue on to Florence. I think I landed around 8 when I was there earlier this year and other than taking a short break to regroup once I was settled into my Airbnb, I kept busy until around midnight. I did sleep some on the plane flying over. I did not get advance tickets for the train and it was not a problem at all. I think I traveled on a Tuesday or Wednesday in case that might make a difference.
Book trains ahead of time, just leave some pad. Rome-Florence is only a few hours by train, and booked ahead of time even business class on the train is pretty cheap. E.g., I was able to book Bologna-Naples in Business for a mere 49.70€. Big wide recliner, nice little welcome bottle of prosecco, too.
Our personal choice is to book our first flight from our hometown to a hub in Europe. From our airport, certain airlines have one flight/day that goes directly to LHR, Frankfurt or Munich. Even if that flight is delayed, we're getting to Europe with it. Generally, we've got a bit of a layover for the next flight. There's usually more frequent connections from these European hubs to other cities if we need to reschedule.
We developed this philosophy because on one trip, even though I left a three-hour buffer, with weather delays, we very nearly missed our connecting flight from Philadelphia to Rome. It was their one flight/day to Rome and we'd have been stuck for a day or rerouted. It was stressful. We've decided, we'd rather be stranded in Europe than stateside. It feels better mentally to us. If you have to connect in the USA, I'd advise trying to get a flight that STARTS in your town so you aren't dependent on that flight coming in from somewhere else. The delays can snowball!
As for the train, I wouldn't book advanced tickets but I'd do enough research that I had a pretty good idea of how I'd get tickets and what would be available. Having the app downloaded and available would be helpful. I've come into Rome early and with jetlag, it's nice to know what to expect. I'm big on the "Be Prepared" model but that works for me.
We have flown from the Pacific Northwest to Europe and then taken 1-3 trains at times to reach our first destination. From your arrival at Rome’s airport, take these. The website needs the Italian spelling:
On the Trenitalia website or app:
Fiumicino Aeroporto to Roma Termini - 32 minutes; 14€ (take the direct one with no middle connection)
Roma Termini to Firenze S.M. Novella - 90 minutes; 20-40€ (take the direct one so it isn’t over 3 hours)
The price changes to 50€ if you don’t buy the Florence one ahead of time.
There’s a direct train from the center of Rome to Florence about every hour. Personally, I don’t like spending time at the train stations when I have jet lag. Watching trains leave that I could have been on while I wait another hour or two since I added buffer time in a pre-purchased ticket would not be worth that savings to me.
Have you been to Europe before? We like to push through on arrival so I would recommend heading straight to Florence. When you arrive, go to your hotel and drop off your bags for them to hold until check in. Then just wander the streets, staying outside as much as possible. Check in, have dinner and wander a little more.
Waiting to buy tickets gives you flexibility at the cost of paying more. I'd go for the flexibility.
Note with an 8 AM arrival, a hotel in Rome would likely not have check-in available for several hours, anyway. So you're wasting that non-prime time walking around zombie-like when you could be in Florence already.
Definitely take the train to Florence upon landing. From the airport station it's just over 2 hours by train (most trains require a change at Roma Termini or Roma Tiburtina station) and there is a train every 30 min until late in the evening.
Don't pre-purchase the ticket. Buy on the spot when you get to the airport station. If you buy ahead and then the flight is late and you miss the train, you might lose your money. I know buying ahead gives the possibility of getting a 25-40% discount, but it's risky as flight delays on international flights (or longer than usual immigration procedures) do happen.