Roma Termini - Rome's iconic, chaotic, but loveable central train station. Locals view it as a part of daily life, while tourists often view it as an overwhelming portion of their trip. Though Termini can be a lot to handle for a visitor, walking through the station can be an enjoyable experience if you know what to expect.
All roads lead to Roma Termini, whether you're taking a bus, train, or heading to and from the airport. Here's how to navigate the station like a pro, and still have time to watch the rushes of people in motion and get a glimpse of Italian daily life.
Termini Station is open from 4:30AM to 1:30AM every day. It hosts about 475,000 people each day, and 150 million visitors per year. The ground floor is where all trains arrive and depart, and also where you can buy tickets. There are a few coffee shops and other stores on the ground level, including a large bookstore with an English language section. The lower level is where you can get the metro. Both the 'A' and 'B' lines depart from Termini, and it is the only transfer point between lines. The lower level is also full of clothing and electronic stores, as well as many more restaurants.
Train tracks in Italy are called 'Binari,' so you're train will depart from Binari #1-24. If you're looking at the tracks, #1 is on your far left, and #24 is on your far right. The platform numbers are listed on an electronic board 10-15 minutes before departure. You'll see a crowd of passengers looking at the board waiting for their train to show up, so join in and check your platform even if it's on your ticket, as they can change. The trains are always displayed by their final destination, so even if you're going to Florence, if your train's final destination is Venice, the track number will be listed as Venice. Make sure to check your train's final destination beforehand to aid in finding the platform. In Italian, 'Partenze' means 'Departure,' which will also help when looking at the board.
When you arrive at Termini, you can take the metro, bus, or taxi to your final destination. To take the metro, follow the signs down the stairs to the 'A' and 'B' lines. You can purchase a ticket from the machines at the entrance. To take the bus, head out the main entrance and across the street to the crowd of buses. For a taxi, exit out the main entrance and join the queue for a taxi. Here, an attendant will ask for your final destination and tell your driver for you.
Most importantly, just remember that even Romans get overwhelmed sometimes in Termini, and you can always take a moment to catch your bearings and ask another traveler for help. Italians are always excited to help visitors!