Expats should find it easy to get around Rome, thanks to its comprehensive and efficient public transport networks. The metro system is extensive and runs frequently, with suburban train routes that stretch into its outskirts. Some buses run to areas not connected by train.
The city runs on an integrated transport system, and tickets are valid on city buses, trams and the metro as well as some trains.
Public transport in Rome
The Roman metro may not always be punctual, but it is well organised. Trains depart regularly and many stops are appropriately named after the monument that they’re closest to. It’s worthwhile noting that the metro goes around rather than through the historic centre. At the end of each line, there are connecting suburban trains.
The suburban train line, run by Trenitalia, connects the outskirts of Rome with the metro and the rest of Italy. Expats should be aware of beggars and pickpockets on the trains and at stations. Timetables and maps can be viewed on the Trenitalia website.
Rome’s tram system is of limited use. Although trams can squeeze into some of the city’s smaller roads, the routes followed are limited and don’t link up with the metro.
Buses are the least common form of public transport in Rome. The metro has made them redundant in places, and between the traffic and the tiny streets, buses can be a terribly slow way to get around. That said, routes are extensive and lists of routes and timetables are available online.
Taxis in Rome
With an extensive public transport network, taxis are usually the last resort in Rome. They’re expensive and drivers have a bad reputation for overcharging. If expats do catch one, they should always look for the official white or yellow cabs and insist that the meter be used, or at least negotiate a flat fare before getting into the car.
Alternatively, ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft and MyTaxi operate in Rome. Many expats prefer using rideshare apps as they minimise language barrier issues and allow expats to view routes and fares, which prevents drivers from overcharging.
Driving in Rome
Italian cities, in general, are not car-friendly places and Rome is no exception. It was built long before cars came into existence and attempts to accommodate them have created a confusing mess of one-way streets, impossibly tight alleys and deathly roundabouts. Parking is also limited and expensive.
Moreover, a ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato) is in place in Rome to reduce congestion, limiting access to certain areas. Hefty fines are charged if individuals drive through these zones without a permit.
Expats in the city are advised to walk or catch public transport. If they want to explore Italy or one of its neighbouring countries, renting a car is an option and plenty of vehicle rental offices offer good cars at affordable prices.
Cycling, scooters and Vespas in Rome
In the past, bicycle paths in Rome were few and far between. More often than not expats would have to ride on the road, which can be dangerous. Recent initiatives in Rome have led to more cycle paths being constructed. This has multiple benefits including health, ease, and safety of getting around, and reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.
Electric scooters are a popular option among residents and visitors alike, especially given Rome's scooter-sharing system. By simply downloading an app, e-scooters can be found, accessed and ridden at a low rate.
Another alternative is Vespas and there are many rental agencies for them dotted around the city. Despite a prevalence of Vespas and motorcycles, driving by scooter can be dangerous considering Rome's aggressive driving culture.
Walking in Rome
Whether walking around Rome is a feasible mode of transport depends on one’s fitness levels and the area where one lives. Most people go on foot in the central district, but sights like the Vatican and the Colosseum are further out. Unless expats live in the centre of Rome, they’ll need to rely on public transport at least part of the way. Once there, the footpaths are wide and clean and there are always people about, day or night. The only thing expats need to be careful about is crossing the road. They should never jaywalk or use the designated crossing without stopping and looking, as Italian driving culture often asserts that drivers, not pedestrians, have the right of way.
►For an overview of the different districts of the city read Areas and Suburbs in Rome
►Learn more about Transport and Driving in Italy
►See timetables, buy tickets and plan your route around Rome – www.atac.roma.it
►For trains, see Trenitalia’s website – www.trenitalia.com
Are you an expat living in Rome?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rome. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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