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_MG_0044_900(This isn’t a cruise-specific post but it has some relevance to cruising as many passengers start cruises from Rome perhaps with a few days in the eternal city.)

I’ve just had 48 hours in Rome, from Friday lunchtime until Sunday lunchtime. This is the third such weekend I’ve had in recent years. These have all been on my own – my approach to the weekends involves too much following my nose for Val to be interested – she prefers there to be A Plan.

On the first of these trips I travelled up to Rome on the Leonardo Express from Fiumicino station to Termini. This worked, but was a bit expensive. On the second I took the cheap option – the Terravision bus. Readers, I cannot recommend this. I waited a long time during which a huge crowd of people gathered, carrying Terravision tickets bought in the Arrivals area of the airport. When the bus arrived they all surged forward but were refused entry by the conductress who shouted at them “On-line ticket holders first! Then we fill the bus with other ticket holders….”. This did not go down well, and all I can say is that as a holder of an on-line ticket, my efforts to fight my way through the crowd and board the bus did not meet with much co-operation from the throng.

So further research ensued – regular readers will know that I do enjoy my ‘foreign ports’ research – and I discovered the possibility of using the regional FR1 train from Fiumicino. This goes to stations such as Roma Trastavere, Roma Ostiense, and Roma Tiburtina, but not Termini, because the route extends to a town on the other side of Rome. It’s a stopping train and calls at a number of small stations between Fiumicino and those in Rome. Crucially, it’s cheaper than the Leonardo Express. Given that my hotel was close to the Campo de’ Fiori, I figured that a train to Trastevere followed by a #8 tram should work; and on Friday, it did. These trains run every fifteen minutes, which is more frequently than the Leonardo Express, and it took just over half an hour to get to Trastavere station, for €8. Then there was a few minutes wait for a tram, a brief ride on one, and I was checking into my hotel less an hour after walking out of Fiumicino airport. Easy, I thought.

The trip back to the airport yesterday (Sunday) was a different story, however. I got to Trastevere station in plenty of time, bought my ticket, and went to the platform where I found a considerable crowd of young people all dressed in various fantasy costumes. There were vampires, astronauts, fairies, wizards, and all the characters you expect to see. I then remembered that one of the intermediate stops on the route had been at what looked like an exhibition centre – Rome’s equivalent of the NEC, perhaps – and I wondered if perhaps there was a fantasy convention taking place this weekend.

Then the train arrived. It pulled very slowly into the station and I saw that a train attendant was in the front cab with a window open and was shouting something at the waiting vampires, etc, which of course I couldn’t understand. A few moments later, however, the import of what she must have been saying became clear – the train was already jam-packed full of fantasy fans who had got on at earlier stops. This was a double-decker suburban train, with big double doors on each carriage, and at each door I could see loads of youngsters squashed up tight against the door. No-one was able to get on at Trastavere; none of the fantasy kids or crucially, no-one trying to get to Fiumicino airport either.

I decided to wait for the next train (half-an-hour later) but the same thing happened again. At this stage I was getting seriously worried about missing my flight, especially with the time it usually takes to get through security at Fiumicino. So I left the station in a hurry and fortunately found a taxi outside. “Fiumicino Airport, as quick as you can!” I said, and the taxi driver responded as only an Italian male who has been *asked* to drive fast can. It cost me €60 – I gave him a tip because he did get a move on; just about 20 minutes from Trastavere station to Departures at Fiumicino Airport. And when I arrived there I was able to breeze through security in under five minutes – have they changed it? So I caught my flight.

And the moral? – despite tempting-looking alternatives, the Leonardo Express is probably the best choice for this journey. Or a taxi, if you’ve got a mountain of bags. It’s not worth trying buses or non-dedicated trains.

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