Alexis Kandra

A lesson in safe bus-riding

I have been traveling over fall break, as many future students might as well.  Some friends and I flew from Ciampino Airport, which is the smaller airport in Rome.  The real adventure was returning…

When we arrived back at Ciampino after a delayed flight, the airport was closing.  Ciampino closes at midnight and doesn’t open again until 4:30 am.  A huge crowd of people was forced out of the airport.  There were people who either just flew in, were delayed, or even just arrived at the airport.

We had paid 4 euro for a bus that would take us to Termini station in the inner city of Rome.  From there we planned to find out way back to our apartments by city bus.  unfortunately, our bus was the last bus departing from the airport.  The driver wanted to milk as many euros from the situation as possible, so he ended up just parking the bus near the large group of people waiting for a taxi to show up.  Gradually, people from this group ended up moving to the bus and paying the 4 euros to get on, rather than wait any longer for a taxi.

We didn’t leave the airport until 1 am.  Close to 1, an Italian woman asked the bus driver in Italian “Why are we just sitting here?  Do we really need to pick up any more foreigners?”  The driver got the picture and we started to move.  Some Romans have a definite bias against foreign travelers and tourists.  Their city is basically inundated with them, so some local citizens are pretty fed up with them.  A huge percentage of people flying into Rome are not Italian Citizens.

Termini Station after midnight is everything they tell you at orientation.  This is considered the worst area of Rome to be at night.  For some reason, many homeless people go there to walk, sit, and sleep around the outside of this building at night.  Many people with ill intentions congregate there and in the surrounding bars as well.  It’s different from North Philadelphia, where everything is closed at night and deserted looking.  Termini has much more activity and people, but it’s not a particularly safe place to be.  Luckily I was with a group of 5 other people who had a head on their shoulders and our goal was to get out of there as soon as possible.

The trickiest thing to figure out was the bus system to get home from Termini.  After midnight, the buses run on a night schedule with different route and fewer busses.  The waits are longer.  The hardest part was that we weren’t sure which bus to take or what stop to wait at.  The front and sides of Termini Train Station are littered with bus-stops.  Buses approach from every direction.  We didn’t want to get on the wrong bus, or a bus going in the wrong direction.

Luckily, an Italian man who knew some English saw us struggling to find the right stop and helped us.  He told us which stop to wait at, which was extremely helpful of him.

Then we waited for the bus for over half and hour.  Finally it came, and we were able to get home.  Our apartment never looked so inviting!

For any future or current students at Temple Rome, I highly suggest avoiding Termini at night.  If you are going there though, you should figure out ahead of time where the stop is for your bus.  It will save you lots of time and anxiety later.  Also, avoid going to Termini by yourself or with a very small group.  It really is not a good idea.  If you keep your head about you, and keep your safety in mind, you’ll be fine!

A view (thanks to GoogleMaps) of the area near Termini Station where the buses pick people up.

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