Rome to Florence, are we cutting it too close?
May 8, 2010 6:12 PM   Subscribe

So we're arriving in Rome at 6:50PM, is it reasonable to expect to get to Florence that same night by train? We're also considering a side trip to Stockholm, any secrets to getting there and back?

Mrs. Advicepig and I are going to Florence, Italy to celebrate a friend's big deal birthday. We booked a flight that gets into Rome at 6:50PM on a Saturday and it looks like the last train to Florence is at 8:15. Is it crazy to think we could make that work? Is there some other option to still get to Florence that night?

On the other end of the trip, we've got another week before we fly home to see Rome and we're considering a side trip to visit a friend in Stockholm. (We figure if we'd already crossed the Atlantic...) Any tips on making this work?
posted by advicepig to Travel & Transportation around Rome, Italy (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My quick check at suggests that there is also a 10:36pm train leaving Rome from the Tiburtina station, arriving at Firenze Campo di Marte at 1:44am. So that's hardly convenient. Plus, the train from the airport takes you to Stazione Termini in Rome. It's been a while since I was there, and I don't remember how long it would take to get from Termini to Tiburtina. Maybe someone else can say how long the airport train takes. I seem to recall it being over 30 minutes, so after luggage and customs, you'd be cutting it close for 8:15, but it might not be impossible.
posted by stopgap at 6:46 PM on May 8, 2010

Best answer: After poking around for a bit, and considering I've navigated those same stations several times, I think I can answer this: yes, you are cutting it too close. That's the short version. For the long version, please read on.

While it is technically possible to make the times you cited work, it is almost unimaginable that they will. The 8:15PM train you cite departs from Roma Termini, the central station in downtown Rome, while you will be arriving at one of the two main airports, almost certainly Fiumicino, and that's at least 30 minutes away from Termini. In my experience, it can easily take longer.

The last train that would take you downtown in time to comfortably make that connection departs from Fiumicino at 7:06PM. Unless you can get off the plane, exit the terminal, reach the train platform and buy a ticket within 16 minutes, you won't make it. Note that this also assumes the plane will be on time.

Now, there is another train at 7:36PM, but that's scheduled to arrive at Termini by 8:07PM. Eight minutes to make a connection would be stressful in the best of circumstances, to put it mildly, but in this case you also have to contend with the notorious unreliability of Italian train service. Counting on something like this to work seems most unwise.

If I were you, I would at least prepare for the eventuality that you might be forced to spend that night in Rome. Hey, worse fates could befall you, right? As far as other options for getting to Florence are concerned, I suppose there might be a bus or something, but I'm not sure how you might check that out from home, and frankly it seems more trouble than it's worth.

HOWEVER: On preview, the above comment by stopgap does make a great point; I had neglected to check Tiburtina. As I recall, Termini and Tiburtina are relatively well connected by subway service, but you don't even need to do that: the train from Fiumicino stops directly at Tiburtina. So I guess you can wait around until 10:36PM and catch that train, if you don't mind getting to Florence so late. Personally, I would still recommend taking it easy, but that's of course up to you. Have fun, and best of luck with the trip!
posted by mindwarp at 7:12 PM on May 8, 2010

I was going to say what mindwarp pointed out, that you don't have to go to Termini from Fiumicino. You can go direct to Roma Tiburtina, and it takes 45 minutes, as this schedule shows.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 7:18 PM on May 8, 2010

My limited experience with transportation in Italy was not the most prompt.
posted by amtho at 8:43 PM on May 8, 2010

It's Italy. That means Italian customs and border agents and baggage handlers. There's no way you'll make it.

However, Alitalia has daily flights from Rome (FCO) to Florence at 9:25 pm (arriving 10:25 pm). Why would you even bother with a train?
posted by halogen at 11:19 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I live on the train line from Rome-Fiumicino to Rome-Tiburtina, and I would definitely not expect to make it in time. You won't get out of Fiumicino airport with your baggage until 7:45 pm at the very earliest, then have a 15-minute walk through the terminal to the train station, then a 40 minute ride (assuming a train is just departing and you've already bought your ticket) to Tiburtina station.

But since this is such a big deal birthday for your friend, wouldn't he/she be prepared exceptionally to pick you up at the station in Florence at 1:44 am and bring you home?

Otherwise: are you sure you're arriving at Fiumicino airport? If it's Ciampino airport, things are more complicated: no direct train link, super-expensive taxis into town, but bus services. Care to post back about which airport you arrive at?
posted by aqsakal at 11:48 PM on May 8, 2010

Another note: the train from Fiumicino comes in on platform 25/26 or something way on the south side of Termini. The station is massive and it's a stupidly long walk to even get to the other platforms, and there are way too many people to run with bags safely or with any speed. I *barely* made your exact connection in 20 minutes.
posted by mdonley at 2:47 AM on May 9, 2010

Best answer: n-thing that your connection is not really feasible. Either fly into Florence from Rome, or take the night train from Tiburtina to Florence Campo di Marte. I don't recall if there's a cab line at Campo di Marte (there is, but I'm not really sure if there's any cabs that late) so to call one dial 4242 or 4390. Where in Florence are you headed to?

Re: Stockholm, there's Ryanair connecting Pisa (it's about a hour train ride from Florence and trains get to the terminal directly, look for 'Pisa Aeroporto') to Stockholm Skavsta. Book early and you could get a good deal. Alternatives leaving from Florence are with a layover in either Munich or Frankfurt and cost way, way more.

I'm in Florence by the way, if further information is needed, feel free to memail.
posted by _dario at 3:46 AM on May 9, 2010

Skavsta itself is at least an hour and a quarter out of Stockholm, and Ryanair is a terrible terrible airline: expect to double at least the price they appear to offer with all the surcharges and con tricks. If you have nay choice of cheap airlines in Europe, take Air Berlin. Even if you have to change in Frankfurt or Berlin, it's better than Ryanair and not very much more expensive when all is added up.

(sorry to be passionate, but I have flown Ryanair from England to Sweden enough to have sworn never to do so again)
posted by alloneword at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: It's settled, we'll spend the night in Rome and show in Florence fresh as a pair of daisies (or as much as possible after a full day of international travel.)

For reference, we are flying into FCO and at least one of the other parties will be renting a van.
posted by advicepig at 10:08 AM on May 9, 2010

A van? In Italy? Okay, I live in southern France and have driven a Twingo (think "pregnant rollerskate") in northern Italy, to Florence and as close to Venice as you can get by car. Have any of you ever driven in Italy? If you haven't...
1. Read up on driving in Italy.
2. Watch this dyseducational how to drive video made by an Italian. It is barely an exaggeration of the reality. (Note that, according to my ten years of experience in southeastern France, it also applies here.)
3. As per 2., assume that the drivers around you are unpredictable, because they are, and that's an understatement. They will not follow the rules of the road, and they'll yell at you (literally) if you don't follow the rules. Especially since you'll be in a van (no one but tourists drive vans here, sorry). Take deep breaths. Often. Be careful.
posted by fraula at 11:11 AM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, seriously, but they are New Yorkers and drive there routinely so I suppose that helps. We're hoping to leave the van parked for most of our travels with the exception of the bike touring/support section of the trip.
posted by advicepig at 6:42 PM on May 9, 2010

_dario: shouldn't those taxi phone numbers be 055 4242 and 055 4390? Or do the taxi companies have a special deal with Telecom Italia?

advicepig: my query being because in general in Italy you need the area code, an integral part of the phone number, even if you're calling from right across the street. Unless there are some special deals I'm not aware of.
posted by aqsakal at 11:44 PM on May 9, 2010

aqsakal is right, you need the area code. Old habit.
posted by _dario at 4:18 AM on May 10, 2010

I thought so! Still do it myself...
posted by aqsakal at 7:53 AM on May 10, 2010

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