Giovan Battista Pastine International Airport, known more commonly as Ciampino (CIA), is Rome’s second and smaller airport.
Only low-cost or budget airlines operate out of Ciampino. It has flights to and from 51 cities in 23 different countries, so chances are if you’re flying a low-cost airline from within Europe, you’ll be arriving here.
Everything You Need to Know
Accessible by public transport, Ciampino Airport (pronounced cham – PEE – no) lies southeast of Rome and approximately 18 km from the city centre.
Its official name is “Aeroporto di Ciampino, G.B Pastine”, named after a fallen war hero from WW2. So if it’s your first time leaving from this airport, do not be alarmed when you see this name emblazoned over the entrance with no mention anywhere of Ciampino. (Anyone who’s arrived at the wrong airport because of official name versus local name confusion will have this kind of trauma).
Before the days of low-cost flights, Ciampino Airport was a military base and has only relatively recently been commercialised. This makes it no more than a fledgling airport really, which comes with many advantages.
Small in size, especially compared to mega-sized Fiumicino; CIA is mega manageable. No long treks to your boarding gate or passport control, no overwhelming labyrinthine routes through the Duty-Free. It’s actually a very modest affair.
So whether you’re flying into Ciampino for the first time, or flying out for some low-cost intercontinental adventuring, read on for transport tips, what to expect, and nearby attractions.
Getting to Rome from Ciampino
1. Bus and Metro: The Best and Cheapest Way
Ciampino Airport is serviced by the Roman transport network (ATAC). There are two local buses which will deposit you at a Metro station. A single ticket is valid for 100 minutes, so you can use the same ticket for the bus as the Metro.
Assuming you are going to be based in central Rome, your journey will be complete in under an hour, so this is by far the most cost-effective way into the city.
How To Do It:
At arrivals, you will see a row of bus ticket offices on your right.
The last one is an official Rome Tourist Information desk where you can buy public transport tickets. If you’re planning to spend a solid two days in Rome, consider a 48-hour travel pass, valid on buses and Metro.
You can also pay by contactless credit card (or the app on your phone) on the Metro and on most buses too.
It’s not possible to buy tickets on board the bus.
Top tip: Always have a physical bus ticket on you, just in case.
There are two local buses which will get you to a Metro station. The 520 will take you to Cinecitta, which is on the A (orange) line. The 720 will take you to Laurentina Metro Station, which is on the B (blue) line. I recommend the 720 route, so here is my step by step by guide:
As you exit the Arrivals hall, you will be led down towards the bus stops. Local buses, as well as larger direct buses (coaches Br. Eng), leave from various bus stands on the left.
You’ll see information like this dotted about the airport and by the bus stops. They’re only really helpful if you know where you’re going and presume you have prior basic knowledge of Roman geography.
Wait at the bus stop (the only one) for the 720. Local Roman buses are ruby red.
Board the bus from the middle and back doors rather than the front.
Drivers have a partition separating them from passengers. They’ll be in there, in their own little world, and there will be signs in Italian saying, “Please do not talk to the driver”. However, some drivers will be more than happy to talk to you.
Most buses have now (thankfully) been fitted with two ways to validate your ticket. The old-fashioned way, where your ticket goes into the yellow machine, and it gets time-stamped, and the new 21st century way, where you just tap your contactless card.
Top tip: It’s good practice to have a paper ticket on you in case you experience the double misfortune of the machine being out of order and a grumpy ticket inspector insisting you must have a valid ticket and then fining you on the spot for not having one.
This is Italy. Expect drama.
Posters on the bus show you how to validate your ticket.
Old school ticket validating machine. Ignore the numbers. Just slot your ticket at the top of the machine.
Fancy new machines that accept contactless card payments.
The 720 bus will take you through pastures, green vineyards, and bumpy semi-rural roads until you get to this. Laurentina. An 80’s postmodern sort of transport hub in need of some TLC and a lick of paint. I can’t promise it will be the most glamorous start (or end) to your Roman Holiday – but it is going to get you where you need to be.
Laurentina is the last stop on the bus route, so there is no danger of you missing your stop. When you get off, cross over towards the big blue columns. Walk toward the yellow part of the building, and the entrance to the metro station will be on your right.
Laurentina, on the B line, is also the last stop on the line, so no danger of going in the wrong direction here either. All trains go to Termini.
The final destination of the train will either be Rebibbia or Jonio – if you’re staying in central Rome and going no further than Bologna on the B line, then it won’t matter which train you take. If you have a paper ticket from the bus, use the same one to go through the ticket barriers for the Metro. Otherwise, you can tap your contactless card again.
The other local bus option is to take the 520 instead to Cinecittà. Be aware that Cinecittà is not the end of the line, so double-check with a fellow passenger about getting off at the right stop.
Italians love helping tourists, especially senior citizens. Any excuse to talk. The bus stop is next to the Metro entrance (there are steps going down). You might prefer to take the A line directly if your accommodation is located closer to an A stop.
2. Direct Buses (Coaches)
Bus companies such as Terravision and Roma Airport Bus operate direct services to Termini train station, and tickets are available to purchase from the Arrivals hall. The journey time is around 50 minutes.
The bus stands are located to the left of the local bus stop, straight ahead of you as you exit the airport. You can’t miss them.
Above: Direct buses to Rome
Note there is no direct train service to this airport – the Ciampino that you see on the train map is the actual town, which runs a shuttle service from the train station called the Ciampino Airlink.
You can purchase your shuttle bus ticket from the ticket office at Arrivals (shown below). It’s a short journey over to Ciampino Train Station, where you can take a regional train to Termini.
Tip: If you are flying out of Ciampino and are considering taking the regional train from Termini, a word of warning:
- Trains to Ciampino normally leave from platform 20 or 20 B, which is a trek and a half away from the ticket barriers and a bit tricky to locate among the swathes of people in peak season. Termini is immense.
- The Shuttle Bus may or may not come. In theory, it will, but might not necessarily adhere to the timetable. For peace of mind, I would go for something a bit more straightforward.
There are regular direct buses that leave from Termini on Via Giovanni Giolitti (on the right-hand side if you are facing Termini, just after Mercato Centrale Roma). You can pay the driver on board the bus.
4. Taxi and Uber
The Rome airport taxi rank is located just after the local bus stop. These are local Roman white taxis, which all have fixed fares posters stuck to the door. You can expect to pay in the region of 30 Euros to get into central Rome.
Uber fans will be pleased to learn that the app works quite well, but you won’t necessarily be saving any time or money by using it. Local taxis take card payments, and there are generally plenty to go around.
Being such a small airport, you will need to exit the plane using the stairs.
There will be no bridge connecting you to the terminal. If you or anyone you’re travelling with has mobility issues, do bear this in mind. It’s a short walk to the main terminal building.
Passport control is divided between EU Nationals with biometric passports and all other nations who will have their passport checked by local police.
You’ll then proceed into baggage claim, and then a very small arrivals hall with exit signs clearly indicated. On your right-hand side, there will be three ticket offices from which you can purchase bus tickets to Rome.
Check-in desks are located directly in front of the entrance as you come up the stairs or the ramp. You won’t need to worry about being at the wrong Terminal or the right check-in area.
It’s all in one and the same place.
Security is straight on towards the right as you enter.
There is a fast track, but why anyone would use it, considering the size of the airport, beats me.
Above. Tiny Security Control and the Fast Track gate. To the right, directions to the only two places to eat before you go through security; McDonald’s and the Coffee and Bakery bar.
Before Security Controls, you’ll find bathrooms, a Mcdonald’s, a coffee shop, a WhSmiths (for books, souvenirs, and general toiletries), and two vending machines.
That is literally it.
Once you get through the metal detectors, you will find one cafe and the possibility of ordering McDonald’s via an app that they bring over to you in take-out paper bags from the other side. It was bizarre, but people were doing it.
Duty-free shopping and last-minute gifts/souvenirs are extremely limited at Ciampino, so get that stuff done before you arrive or be sorely disappointed.
You won’t be getting any of the luxury shopping experience or dazzling array of cosmetics, perfumes, and booze on offer at FCO.
There are no hotel airports per se, but you will find a wide variety close by in the small town of Ciampino itself.
A couple stood out to me:
Hotel Villa Giulia is within walking distance of Ciampino (town) train station (handy if you’re travelling in from Termini), offers late check-ins, and is located close to the Rome airport shuttle bus stop.
Plaza Rooms Ciampino equally is fully equipped, offering free breakfast and Wi-Fi, within easy walking distance to the Airport Shuttle bus stop.
OK, But Can I Sleep at the Airport?
If you have an exceptionally early flight, you are now permitted to spend the night in the very limited waiting area just before Security Control. There’s Wi-Fi and a couple of vending machines, and a Carabiniere or two doing the rounds, making sure it’s all safe.
A couple of years ago, during the pandemic, this wasn’t the case. Some bus drivers and taxi drivers (not to mention many websites out there) still haven’t got the memo and might tell you in very grave tones that the airport is closed from midnight to 4 am. I learned the hard way that they were wrong. I chalked it up to a case of “benevolent misinformation”, which happens quite a lot in Italy. But it’s all part of the fun.
This is Italy, so it should come as no surprise to learn that you’re always close to something wonderful – it’s getting there that’s the issue! This is ‘car country’, but do not despair. I’ve weeded out some options.
So if you have an awkward layover at Ciampino that doesn’t warrant another day in Rome, try these on for size.
Why Go There?
Well, if it’s good enough for the Pope…! Castel Gandolfo, on the shores of Lago Albano, is a real treat. It’s a short walk down to the lake from the station, where you’ll find charming views and countless little places to have a bite to eat.
OK, How Do I Get There?
Take the Ciampino Airlink bus to the Ciampino train station.
Take the regional train to Castel Gandolfo.
Journey time: less than an hour.
Why Go There?
Frascati is famous for its wine.
Oh, you still need more reasons? OK, it’s also a beautiful small city in its own right with a ton of history, good restaurants, churches, and piazzas. I feel like I’m stating the obvious here, but it’s all true!
OK, How Do I Get There?
- Take the Ciampino Airlink bus to the Ciampino train station. Take the regional train to Frascati.
- Take local bus 520 to Capannelle Train Station. Take the regional train to Frascati.
Journey time: less than an hour.