Yesterday, we traveled between Civitavecchia and Rome by train for 12 euros per person, compared to $125 per person for Crystal’s motorcoach transfer. Of course, Crystal’s transfer is easy, air-conditioned and comfortable. But with a little planning and proper knowledge, the train also can be a good experience. Here’s how we did it. We welcome your comments to help others make the best experience possible when traveling by train from Civitavecchia to Rome.
When uninitiated cruisers see Rome listed on their cruise itineraries, of course, they’re excited that they are going to visit the Eternal City. Not so fast. No ships that we know of call on Rome.
Rather, they call on Civitavecchia, and it’s a good thing that all roads lead to Rome, because from the port city of Civitavecchia, it’s a long haul into the Eternal City of Rome.
In fact, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed on the ship in Civitavecchia instead of facing the prospect of traveling at least an hour into Rome and an hour back. If you’ve seen Rome before, staying on board to enjoy the ship is not a bad option.
When Crystal Serenity docked in Civitavecchia yesterday, however, my son Alex and I were definitely bound for Rome.
First task, waking a teenage boy. After opening the balcony curtains to let sunlight stream in, turning on the television and clattering around the room for an hour, I was finally able to stir him and get him on his feet. By noon, we were buying tickets for something I’d never done: taking the train to Rome.
Once outside the port gates, we found several shops selling tickets. All seemed to price the tickets about the same: €12 for the return trip by train for a ticket that also included local transport within Rome, including the fine metro system.
We purchased our tickets from Shop Roma, where two nice ladies made suggestions about how we could make the best of our time in Rome. They also sold fast-track tickets, where you bypass the often long lines, for the Colosseum and other attractions in the city. We walked away only with the roundtrip train tickets, €24 for the two of us.
The train station was about a seven-minute walk (stay parallel with the sea but on the opposite side of the road and you’ll find it) from the shop. Back at the shop, the ladies told us to validate our tickets once at the station. We found a yellow machine and stuck our tickets in to time-stamp them.
Trains depart regularly, but as this is Italy that we’re talking about, I won’t dare attempt to give a time schedule. That said, there are more than a couple of departures per hour, I believe.
Much to my surprise, the train was clean, air-conditioned, with big comfortable seats and clean restrooms. It seems that nearly all on board were cruise passengers. We sat beside a French lady and her daughter from Norwegian Epic. About midway through the journey, they learned that they had forgotten to validate their tickets, but the conductor was kind and forgiving.
Alex and I thought we were in for a 40-minute trip to Roma Termini but the journey took 75 minutes. Still, it was a pleasant train journey along the Italian coast.
Once at Rome’s main train station, we found the Metro Line B in the direction of Laurentina and rode the Metro only two stops to the Colosseum. As noted, use of the metro and other public transport is included in the €12 fare.
We toured for about three hours (which was enough given the heat) to take in the many sites that Alex wanted to see, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican, walking inside the awe-inspiring St. Peter’s Cathedral.
From St. Peter’s Cathedral, it was about a 10-minute walk to St. Peter’s train station, where we boarded a train back to Civitavecchia.
The return experience on the train was a bit different. We arrived at St. Peter’s station at around 5:30, and the train was crowded, standing room only, for at least half of the trip. However, the return trip was only about 40 minutes. So we stood for the first 20 minutes and found a seat for the final 20 minutes. On the last leg to Civitavecchia, the train was nearly empty.
When I first boarded the return train, being pressed against others, I thought I could not recommend the train to Avid Cruiser readers, but in fact, I do recommend it. We weren’t crowded for long, and let’s face it, we were returning during rush hour. The train provides an inexpensive and easy way to get to Rome and back, and you can see a lot of the Eternal City in just three to four hours.
A few other things that you, our readers, could help us with:
- Apparently there is a local train and a direct train between Civitavecchia and Rome. We didn’t know the difference. But one is faster, about 40 minutes to Rome Termini, and the other takes 75 minutes. If you have information, please share it in the comments section below.
- Some trains have air-conditioning; others do not. Again, we would appreciate information from our readers to help us distinguish between the two types of trains.
- Some train tickets have fixed times for the departure and return. Others do not. We recommend the tickets with no fixed departure.
- I had heard that before we arrived at St. Peter’s train station, a “couple of thousand people” were trying to board the 4:40 train. Apparently, the bulk of these were cruise passengers bound for Norwegian Epic, which was sailing at 6. Plan accordingly.