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, so tickets are valid on city buses, trams, the metro and some trains.
Public transport in Rome
The Roman metro may not always be punctual, but it is very well organised. Trains depart regularly and many stops are appropriately named after the monument that they’re closest to. However, 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, pickpockets and street performers 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 with ease, 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 very slow way to get around. However, the routes offered 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 for their services. 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 for fares.
Driving in Rome
Italian cities, as a whole, are not car-friendly places and Rome is no exception. It was built before cars and attempts to rectify this 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 extremely dangerous. However, 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 amongst 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. However, 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 farther out. Unless expats live in the centre of Rome, they’ll need to rely on public transport to get 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.