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Public Transportation Rome Airport to Florence

One of the most common complaints of travelers and tourists is the scarcity of DIRECT public transportation connections between Rome Fiumicino (FCO) Airport and Florence. Here is a summary of the current options.

DIRECT TRENITALIA FRECCIARGENTO TRAINS

Since the end of 2014, Trenitalia has been running TWO DAILY Frecciargento trains from the FCO airport train station at 11:08 and 15:08, making two brief stops at Roma Termini and Roma Tiburtina stations (but not requiring any connection), and arriving in Florence after 2 hours and 14 minutes.

For a regular "BASE" fare of 55 Euros per adult ticket (second class), passengers board the train at the FCO airport and get off at the main SMN train station in Florence. This is particularly convenient for travelers with mobility issues or with heavy luggage in tow. Return Frecciargento trains depart Firenze SMN for FCO Airport at 7:38 and 11:38, also taking 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Bear in mind that these direct trains save only about 10-20 minutes compared to when one connects between trains at Roma Termini or Roma Tiburtina stations. Consequently, it’s not really a big deal if the schedules for the direct train are not suited to your travel arrangements.

ADVANTAGES OF THE DIRECT TRAIN OVER CONNECTING TRAINS: The primary advantage is the sheer convenience of not needing to change trains and having to deal with loading and unloading luggage twice. You also avoid potentially missing the connecting train (you are protected as long as your official connection time is at least 15 minutes and you take Trenitalia on both legs of the trip).

The cost of the direct train is equal to the cost of taking the airport train to TIBURTINA station, then a high-speed train to Florence: 8 + 47 = 55 Euros. However, if you were to connect at Roma Termini station, you would pay more: 14 + 47 = 61 Euros, without gaining any time advantage over connecting at Tiburtina. The only advantage of connecting at Termini is the much greater variety of food outlets and shops compared to Tiburtina.

FIUMICINOEXPRESS.COM NON-STOP BUSES

Beginning in November 2016, a private bus operator inaugurated direct BUS service between FCO and Florence, giving travelers several more CHOICES and flexibility in scheduling their DIRECT connections: with buses departing from the FCO Terminal 3 bus depot at 9:30, 15:30 and 21:30 and arriving in Florence after 3 hours and 30 minutes, these new direct connections supplement the two daily Trenitalia Frecciargento direct trains noted above. Return buses to FCO depart from Florence at 5:00, 9:00 and 15:30.

OPINION: With the notable exception of the night bus to Florence and the early morning bus to FCO from Florence, this new airport bus service is quite marginal. You can easily take the airport train to either Termini or Tiburtina station and connect to the high-speed train to Florence, all in around 2.5 hours, and for roughly the same fare (with a discounted ticket) as the full fare on the bus.

BUS FEATURES: Reclining seats with extra leg room, electrical outlets, free Wi-Fi, TWO pieces of luggage in the hold up to 30 kilos each, plus one carry-on. (No one actually weighs the luggage, and most people respect the lower weight limits of economy class airlines).

HOW TO REACH THE BUS DEPARTURE POINT AT FCO AIRPORT: After collecting your checked luggage from the carousel on the ground floor of Terminal 3 International Arrivals, walk out the front doors and turn RIGHT, proceeding on foot along the sidewalk until you reach the large bus depot at the extreme end of Terminal 3. Look for the Fiumicino Express buses going to Florence. It takes only a couple of minutes to walk to the bus departure area, and it's a covered walkway, so you won't get wet if it's raining.

BUS ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE IN FLORENCE: Not quite as convenient as arriving or departing by train, the bus arrives and departs from an open area adjacent to the SMN train station (northwest side), called Piazzale Montelungo (along Viale Filippo Strozzi), where some city bus lines also stop. The bus stop is approximately 550 meters northwest of the north entrance to SMN train station (by the pharmacy). From this point, you can call for a taxi, board a city bus or walk to the train station.
To get to the main part of the train station, follow these directions: walk up the red brick ramp to the elevated platform 16; continue under the glass canopy, then proceed straight along the covered platform 16 (past the railway police and left luggage office), until you reach the head of platform 16 (note the McDonalds/Moka Café). With the exception of the ramp at the very start, most of the walk is protected from the elements. ALLOW AT LEAST SIX MINUTES WALKING TIME FROM THE BUS STOP TO THE HEAD OF PLATFORM 16 INSIDE THE SMN TRAIN STATION. DO NOT USE CITY SIDEWALKS TO CONNECT BETWEEN THESE POINTS, AS YOU WILL GET LOST. USE THE "INSIDE PASSAGE" DESCRIBED ABOVE.

TRAVEL TIMES: The direct Frecciargento train takes 2 hours, 14 minutes to reach Florence. The airport bus gets to Florence nonstop in 3 hours, 30 minutes (absent traffic jams or accidents).

HOW MUCH DO TICKETS COST? The new bus service is much cheaper than the Frecciargento train: around 30 Euros versus 55 Euros. You'll see that it is possible to purchase your bus ticket online, sometimes at a discount (as is true for the train through the Trenitalia website), but I VERY STRONGLY DISCOURAGE this practice, because of the impossibility of accurately predicting whether you'll be able to catch your bus (or train), given the uncertainties of aircraft arrival, plus the variable time necessary to get through passport control and checked luggage collection.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU MISS YOUR RESERVED TRAIN OR BUS?

With a Trenitalia "BASE" ticket, you have a very limited grace period of ONE HOUR after scheduled train departure to change your reservation to a later-departing train (after which time your ticket becomes worthless, and you are required to buy a brand-new ticket at the regular "BASE" fare of 55 Euros). Worse still, with a Trenitalia non-refundable discounted fare such as the "Economy" and "Super Economy" fare ticket, you FORFEIT the ticket if you MISS the reserved train by even one second.

With the new airport BUS, you do have the ability to request authorization to board a later bus from the one reserved with your online ticket, BUT you must contact the bus operator by e-mail or telephone and have an e-mail connection to receive your written change authorization. I've read many traveler comments that it can be very difficult to get through to the operator by telephone, so this option may be very impractical.

My suggestion is to WAIT UNTIL YOU exit Terminal 3 with your luggage in tow to determine whether you have enough time to catch your desired bus (or train) bound for Florence, then buy the bus ticket directly from the bus driver (for a small supplement), or from the Trenitalia electronic ticket machines or staffed ticket window at the airport train station, if you're planning to take the train. In either case, you'll be paying full fare, but you'll avoid the disappointment of potentially suffering a ticket forfeiture.

However, on the RETURN bus trip from Florence to Rome FCO, why not buy an electronic ticket online if at a significantly lower fare if you will be leaving from your hotel or other lodging in the city and bound for the airport? (The same advice applies to the train).

STRATEGIES FOR BUYING DISCOUNTED TRAIN TICKETS IN ADVANCE AND MINIMIZING FORFEITURE RISK OF MISSING THE TRAIN

Many people quite justifiably refrain from buying discounted train tickets electronically in advance, because of the impossibility of knowing whether one's incoming flight will arrive so late as to cause one to miss the reserved train, thereby forfeiting the train ticket in many cases. But there are ways to manage this risk, among which:

1. Allowing for excessive connection time and buying a “SUPER ECONOMY” fare ticket on Trenitalia or a “FLEX” fare ticket on Italo Treno.

The risk of forfeiting the ticket owing to a late-arriving flight can be mitigated (but not entirely eliminated) by allowing an extra margin of connection time. The downside (apart from outright forfeiture) is that the connection time might prove to be too long, yet the ticket cannot be changed to take an earlier train. To justify the forfeiture risk, the savings should be at least 50% of the regular, undiscounted fare. That way, one risks forfeiting a sum of money roughly equal to the anticipated discount being received with the promotional fare.

2. Buying an “ECONOMY” fare ticket on Italo Treno (but not on Trenitalia).

The “ECONOMY” fare ticket on both carriers can be modified once prior to scheduled train departure. However, only on Italo Treno is one given a TWO HOUR GRACE PERIOD (called “Extra Time”), in case one misses the reserved train, to change the reservation to a later train, without premium or penalty. This “Extra Time” feature has just recently been extended by Italo Treno to the “ECONOMY” fare, on a “promotional” (temporary) basis.

We don’t know whether the rule will revert back to what it was previously, viz. that the ticket is forfeited if the train is missed by even one second (as is still true with the “ECONOMY” fare ticket on Trenitalia). However, in the meantime, this affords a powerful new tool for travelers to get a lower fare by purchasing an electronic ticket in advance on the Italo Treno website, and still retain a significant margin of safety to avoid a ticket forfeiture.

www.trenitalia.com
www.italotreno.it
www.fiumicinoexpress.com
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