In 2009, I moved from Brooklyn to Rome because my buddy, Dave sent me an email.
He asked if I’d like to work with him as a hostel receptionist in exchange for free accommodation and €15/day (each solo “shift” was 24 hours long 6pm – 6pm). I didn’t hesitate for a second, and I’ve been in love with the la citta eterna ever since.
So, believe me when I say that you can have the time of your life in Rome for pennies a day. All you have to do is get there. Here’s a comprehensive guide to Rome for a layover, 3-day trip, week-long vacation, or for the rest of your life. Hopefully you visit more than once.
Getting There: From the Airport (FCO) to the Sights
Rome is pretty big, but in reality there are really only two neighborhoods you should stay in, especially for your first visit—near Termini (the central train station), or near the Vatican Ottaviano). If you’re in town for a quick visit, layover, or just in town for a few quick photos of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Forum, stay near Termini (the central train station).
Where to Stay
Staying Near the Hub: Termini
You can catch the express train from Fiumicino (FCO) for €15 and be in the center of Rome in around 30 mins. Trains run every 20 minutes from 6:23am to 11:23pm, so keep that dead zone in mind if you have an early flight or late arrival. Cabs from FCO will cost around €50, which might be worth it if you have a lot of luggage.
My old hostel (sadly out of business), was located on Via Cavour, a main thoroughfare from Termini to the Colosseum. Cavour, a major road that connects to other easy to navigate arteries like Vittorio Emanuele II, and leads to a lot of the major sights.
The best part about staying near Termini is easy access to all of the metro and bus lines that connect the Rome.
Getting Around: Rome’s Metro
The Roman metro is fast, cheap (€1.50), and reliable. Most of the popular sights from the Vatican to Termini are on the East/West running red “A” metro line (the Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps). You can connect to the blue “B” line for the Colosseo, Pyramide, and Circo Massimo (although I prefer to walk), but honestly, I lived in Rome for nearly a year and never rode the Blue Line…ever.
Trains come often—every few minutes during peak hours—and the metro runs until 11:30pm Sun-Thurs and 1:30am Fri-Sat. Keep that closing time in mind if you don’t know the bus system, but don’t panic if that last glass of vino makes you miss the train home. Your metro ticket or pass works on the busses, which run 24 hours.
If you stay near Termini, you’ll be within walking distance of some great sights.
Click to continue…