Meeting Your Trip in SPOLETO
On this page, you will find information about meeting your trip. Topics include...
We suggest that you print these pages out, and bring a copy with you to your trip.
When and Where:
“Dinnertime,” circa 7p, at the hotel, on the trip’s start date.
Spoleto is a small city, 90 minutes northeast of Rome. We assemble here, at your hotel, on the afternoon / evening of our first day (Sunday). If you get there in time on Sunday, you may fit out your bike for a little local exploration (there is a “nice” hill to climb behind the town).
Rome is the nearest intercontinental airport, and the easiest access point, though Sunday morning train service to Spoleto is sparce. You can also reach the trip via Florence or Milan, though both involve longer train rides, generally connections, and there is an extra cost for the tickets from Milan.
Included in Your Access Package, if you subscribed to it:
A train ticket to Spoleto, as well as a detailed timetable of the train for which you are reserved, if any.
Travel Documents will have been sent to you in advance, typically in the form of a pdf file.
Getting to the Trip
The following routings are described. You may follow the link to jump directly to yours, or just scroll down.
Information on getting to your hotel from the Spoleto station is offered at the start of the next section, “Practical Information.”
Getting into Rome from the Airport
Getting from the airport to the center of Rome is easy, but understanding the choices is not.
Simple, comfortable, designed for foreigners. A special train (the “Leonardo Express”) runs every half hour, making the trip to the Termini (main) Rome railway station in half an hour. Termini is the only and final stop for this train, so there is no confusion about where to get off. It is also the place from whence trains to Spoleto start their runs, if you are making an immediate connection. This is hard to get wrong. Price is circa 17€ (last checked in 2014).
If you want to get fancy, or are going elsewhere in the city, a cheaper train (half the price) designed for the locals (poorly signed, makes lots of confusing and badly-labeled stops, gets crowded with rush hour commuters, has no real space for baggage...) heads into town from the airport every 15 or 30 minutes, depending on the time of day. It always goes as far as “Roma Tiburtina” not Roma Termini but sometimes travels on past Rome, towards Fara or Orte.
If you are connecting to Spoleto, you can ride this train to Roma Tiburtina, the 10th stop (not the final stop for the train), a 45-minute trip. To help you identify your stop, the two previous ones are Roma Ostiense and Roma Tuscolana, respectively 15” and 7” prior to arrival at Tiburtina. If you fall asleep and miss Tiburtina, the following two stops are Roma Noventana and Nuovo Salario. If you find yourself at one of those, get off, and catch the every-15” service back in the other direction. All trains to Spoleto stop at Tiburtina on their way out of town.
Regardless of which train you take, if you have a cardboard ticket (not a pdf self-print ticket), do not forget to date-stamp it in the little yellow box by the track gate. It is not considered a valid ticket unless you do so.
From Central Rome to Spoleto
Two types of train run from Rome to Spoleto, departing from the Rome Termini station, and stopping at the Tiburtina station on the way out of town. Tickets are valid from either station, interchangeably. The schedules can be consulted at http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en.
- Local trains, on which reservations are not required (nor even available).
Trip time is between 1’30” and 1’40”.
- Express trains, locally called “Intercity,” on which reservations are required.
Trip time is about 1’15”.
If you are targeting an express, on which a seat reservation is required, seats will be available until just minutes before departure, provided you can get through the ferocious queues at the ticket windows. Or, you may book your ticket though us. In this case, you may request a reserved seat on a specific train. But if you then change your plans or miss the train, you will need to buy a new ticket (an additional 10€ buys a ticket that can be changed until an hour after train departure).
The alternative is an “open” ticket, valid on locals, or on expresses if you additionally make a reservation at a ticket window.
There is also a long history in Italy of random enforcement of the seat reservation rule, particularly on quiet trains. There is a chance that if you simply board the train with a ticket which does not include a requisite seat reservation, the conductor will only charge the cost of the reservation when he comes through the train to collect tickets (about 6€). Even if he charges you a fine, it is likely to be no more than 10 additional € a sum you may be happy to pay to save an hour waiting for the next train.
A special bus operates every 30 minutes, direct to the Milano Centrale station, from either airport (Malpensa or Linate). From Malpensa, there is also a special train. Though the train is faster and avoids traffic delays, it only runs once an hour.
If you come into Malpensa, as most international flights do, beware taxis: the airport is far out of town, and the taxi fare will be expensive (± 80€ in good traffic, including an estimation of the tip).
The fastest trains from Milan to Spoleto involve a connection in Rome, and take about 5 hours. Local services, following more direct routes, take up to 7, but cost half the price.
Regardless of your route, the first train you ride will carry a pleasant café car, in which to pass some of the time.
The Florence airport is small, and not many people arrive here by plane. If you do, the airport is reasonably close to the town, and served by a city bus which runs to the main station (called S.M.N., or Santa Maria Novella) every 20 - 30 minutes.
An additional connection will be required, in one of Perugia, Orte, or Foligno. Trains on these lines do not require that you reserve seats in advance, and tickets from Florence to Spoleto are valid interchangably on both routes (via Orte, or via Perugia / Foligno).
From Paris, or from Elsewhere via Overnight Train
Overnight trains require reservations. They offers accommodations of various sorts on board, up to and including private cabins. The train from Paris also offers a dining car. It departs Paris (Gare de Lyon) the evening before your trip meeting, at about 8p (consult your ticket for the exact departure time), and you connect in Milan in the morning for the train on to Spoleto.
Other night trains come all the way to Florence or Rome, from Vienna, Munich...
Your tickets will have been sent to you as “print at home” documents.
Assuming you take an overnight train in on Saturday night, you will connect in Florence for the local train to Spoleto on Sunday morning.
Practical Information in Spoleto
Getting to Your Hotel.
By Taxi. A taxi would cost about 10€ , including the normal 10% tip. Just write the name of your “albergo” on a piece of paper, or try saying it in your best sing-song. Don’t think the driver is dishonest just because he describes eight full circles before dropping you at your hotel: medieval town planning meets the internal combustion engine.
By City Bus. A series of lettered city buses, departing from the stop just in front of the station (the bus bays off to the left are for longer distance buses), will get you where you need to go.
The cost is about a euro. Buy a ticket at the newsstand in the station, or, if it is closed, at the caffé: they are more expensive aboard the bus. “Biglietto de autobus, per il centro,” pronounced “bee-YET-o de OW-tow-boos pear eel CHEN-tro” is the password for “bus ticket to the town center.”
Any bus lettered A, B, C, or E will work, but it has to be travelling towards the center, and not away from town. The combination of the four routes runs every 15 minutes. (The “D” also goes to the center, but not on the same route, so it’s more work than its worth, unless your Italian is good.) Ask the driver as you board if he is going to “Piazza della Libertà.” Trip time on the bus is 10 minutes in heavy traffic.
If your hotel is the Aurora, your stop is the Piazza della Libertà. You can try telling your driver this, so that he lets you off there. But the following description should let you pick it out for yourself. It is 5th stop or so after the bus has passed through the main arched city gates. You have reached it when a large-ish piazza opens out on the bus’ left side, after a long, straight block on a street closed to other than emergency vehicles and buses. The hotel is across the square from the Tourist Office, and is marked by a green neon sign (the bus passes the well-signed hotel on the right, just before it reaches the square).
If your hotel is the Charleston, your stop is the Piazza San Domenico. You can try telling your driver this, so that he lets you off there. But the following description should let you pick it out for yourself. It is 3rd stop or so after the bus has passed through the main arched city gates. You have reached it when a smallish piazza opens out on the bus’ right side. Behind a line of trees is a beautiful church made of successive layers of white and faded red stone (the Chiesa San Domenico). The Charleston is in sight of this stop, in the direction in which the bus was travelling, at the back of the Piazza Collicole.
If your hotel is the Panciolle, ring the bell to get off once it has left the Piazza San Domenico stop (described above, in the description of reaching the Charleston): your stop is the next one. The bus will let you off in the process of making another hairpin turn, this time to the right. The Panciolle is in the little street that describes a double-back left turn two thirds of the way through the hairpin. It is signed from the intersection.
Arriving in Spoleto with Your Bike
Ask (politely) at reception if they will keep it safe for you. They will show you where to put it. It lives in the little courtyard outside, in front of the Aurora, if that is your hotel.
Combatting Jet Lag
Trips starting with our Umbria itinerary assemble on Sunday evening. If you have just landed from North America on the same day, we strongly suggest that you not use that hotel room, at least until 11p or so, since even a short nap when you arrive will ensure that you are wide awake and raring to go between 2 and 6a for the next couple of days.
What to do With Your Time in Spoleto
If you have time to devote to Spoleto, your hotel can probably give you a map. If they don’t have any, the tourist office is in the Piazza della Libertà.
The town is interesting. To talk to Italians, it is the best of Umbria. They have a special appreciation for the way in which it has constantly been rebuilt using its own ruins. Stones from the Roman amphitheatre used as foundations for noble houses in the middle ages stuff like that. Certainly, it bears only a vague family resemblance to tourist-thronged Assisi, or to the big-city jumble that is Perugia.
So what else is to like? Well, we enjoy Spoleto’s crazy traffic management, which leaves us wondering how anyone ever gets anywhere. But Italians seem to love anything that buys them time in their cars, preferably in heavy traffic, so that they don’t have to concentrate too much on the road (makes it easier to text).
Also pleasing to the locals, and to us, are Spoleto’s restaurants: excellent, and more inventive than the average.
Plus, there are some wonderful sights, including a giant 13th century bridge that basically goes nowhere, and a 14th century castle atop the hill, which was then used as a prison for two centuries (up until 1983), first by the Vatican, then by the Italian state, which still owns it. It can be visited, but the original decoration is still being restored. The Duomo (cathedral) is worth a look, as Duomo’s generally are: this one is Romanesque, constructed in the last half of the 12th century. And the church of San Domenico, which your bus passed as it brought you into town, is particularly pretty: rare Italian gothic (14th c.), with a fresco, the “Triumph of Saint Thomas Aquinas,” which we like because we like Tom’s take on ethical philosophy.
More generally, Spoleto has the attractive feel of a “real” place, so wandering is nicely recompensed.