Somewhere in Italy

californians figuring out life in italy one day at a time

using public transit in rome

Feb 8, 2019

rome metro

After our first week in Rome, we decided to put on our adult pants and brave public transportation. Here in Rome, the most common modes of public transit are bus, tram (trolley), and metro (subway). Being new to the city and with each having multiple lines it can be very intimidating and confusing to get around.

Not to worry, in the age of technology apps like Google Maps and Citymapper allow you to get wherever your heart desires with very little headache. Your only real limitation is the length of your cell phone battery life. #FirstWorldProblems

Our first few days in the city, we utilized Google Maps because it’s what we’re most familiar with in the states. Open the app, put in the destination, and Google Maps will show you how to get there by walking, driving, public transit, and ridesharing/taxis. After a few days in the city, a friend recommended the app Citymapper. We still use Google Maps when walking because we find that Citymapper uses more battery, but if you’re taking public transportation, we highly recommend Citymapper as your go-to app. We are still utilizing our American T-Mobile plan (unlimited data in 140+ countries) and have had no signal issues with Citymapper.

busses in rome

The bus system in Rome is the most unreliable mode of transportation and for that reason we also recommend you download the app Probus Rome. You could be waiting for an hour for a bus that is supposed to come every 10 minutes. Probus Rome will give you wait times for the buses and trams, but in the spirit of unreliability, also use the Probus Rome app with caution. Once the app stated a 13 minute wait time, but after refreshing 5 minutes later, the wait time only changed to 12 minutes. It’s not exact, but it provides a rough estimate to better plan your trips.

To use the Probus Rome app, open the app and find the magnifying glass on the bottom of the screen. At each bus stop you’ll see a 5-digit number on the bottom left of the stop. Enter that number into the Probus Rome search feature and it will tell you how far the buses are from that specific stop.


rome metro ticket

If the only public transit you’ve taken in the states is a bus, then you are probably familiar with paying for your fare as you enter the bus if you don’t have a bus pass. In Rome, that’s not the case. There is no way to pay for your fare once you’ve entered the bus and if caught without a ticket, the fine is €50.

If you are riding the metro, every metro station has kiosks you can purchase tickets from. You can purchase tickets at any metro station, newsstand or convenience store. Tickets cost €1,50 each, but there are also 24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour, weekly, monthly, and daily passes. The tickets are good for 100 minutes of travel and can be used on the bus, tram, and metro. This means if you get on a bus at 06:30 AM and need to transfer to a metro line at 07:10 AM, you can use the same ticket. Metro stations are the easiest to purchase tickets from if you don’t speak the language because you can purchase them from a kiosk (although most people do speak English), but you will not find as many metro stations as you will find newsstands and convenience stores. At a newsstand or convenience store ask for “due biglietti di metro”, two metro tickets or however many you need, exchange euros for the tickets and you’ll be on your way.

Once on the bus, you will find yellow box where you validate your ticket, there is usually one near the front and one near the back; forget to validate your ticket and you can still be fined €50. On the metro, you validate the ticket the same way you would using most subway systems in the state. You walk to the gates, the machine takes your ticket, ticket is validated and returned to you, the gate opens, and you are able to proceed to the metro’s platform. Keep your ticket with you to avoid a fine.


1. Download and open the Citymapper app.
2. Press “Get Me Somewhere”.
3. Enter in the address or attraction you are traveling to and press the green arrow to confirm your trip.


4. Press the green “Go” button to start your trip. The button also shows what time you should arrive at your destination.
5. You will find step by step directions to get to your destination. To see step by step directions, swipe to the left on the bottom on the screen. In this example, the first step is to walk to the bus stop.
6. Next, you’ll see a list of busses or trams servicing that stop and their expected arrival.

7. Next, you’ll see the number of stops on your ride. My favorite feature of the app is that the blue dot updates in real time to show you where you are in the number of stops. As you are approaching the stop, the app will notify you to exit the bus.
8. Arrive at your destination and the app will direct you where to catch your metro and which is the best entrance to use.
9. Once on the metro, it shows the number of stops until your destination.

10. Once you’ve arrived and exited the metro stop, swipe left one last time and follow the walking directions to get to your destination.

Citymapper is available in most major cities stateside and abroad. To change cities, go to the home screen of the app, click the gear in the top left to go to the settings, and change the city. The public transportation options will automatically change based on the city you’ve selected.

BRB. Heading out to go wait for the next bus,
Jaime + Jordan


  1. Karen Kitchen

    Hi,Good information! I would be totally lost 😂 Hope all is well and that you, Jaime and the dogs are adjusting. Hugs Karen

  2. Julie Maldonado

    After spending 2 weeks with you all in Rome, I re-read this post to see if I understood their public transportation any better. I can get around on the Metro, but the bus/tram system still confounds me!


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