It is hard not to fall for Umbria, Italy’s rolling countryside, and delicious food. Visitors to Italy often struggle to find the best way to travel within Umbria.
This is why it’s so difficult. We’re big supporters of trains in Italy but Umbria can seem a bit difficult at first. First, Umbria is not connected to major cities like Rome or Florence. This means that you will need to change trains several times to reach your destination. Second, there is no train station in the medieval hilltop town. Instead, stations are usually a drive away.
(Notabene: You can rent a car to drive. We don’t recommend it for all reasons. It is possible to get lost on back roads or in the countryside, but it is not always a good idea. This funny account of Italy’s car rental process will show you why it might be worth considering.
Guess what? Despite all the transport difficulties, it’s actually much easier than you think to get around Umbria. We were also surprised by how well connected the towns are. The beautiful rides were another surprise! The buses and the Umbrian regional train took us through beautiful farms, vineyards, and forests.
However, most information about Umbria’s trains or buses is in Italian. We are here to help. You don’t need a car to explore Umbria, its most beautiful towns and villages. Here’s how.
Step 1: Find out which trains link Umbria’s towns
This can make it a bit confusing. The official Trenitalia website is what most people use to search for trains. Although the Trenitalia website shows all the stops of the national rail service it doesn’t show some regional lines like the one in Umbria.
This map shows Umbria’s national and regional trains. The blue line is the regional line, while the black the national. The “direzione Firenze”, and “direzione Siena,” on the left indicate that these cities are located in this direction. The bottom shows “direzione Roma”. It’s easy to get to Umbria from any one of these hubs and then to switch to regional rain.
There are many options even on the black line. Narni, Spoleto and Spello are our favorite. Trevi and Assisii are also very popular.
After you have switched to the regional train you will see that you can also get off at other Umbrian towns, some of which are destinations in themselves, such as Citta del Castello and Todi.
Step 2: Examine the train schedules in Umbria
To access Trenitalia trains (black lines), go to www.trenitalia.it, where you can enter your departure, destination and date. To view the blue line regional trains (blue lines), just click on the name of the town you wish to visit. The complete schedule will be displayed in a PDF. Scroll down to find the page containing the name of your destination.
Step 3: Determine if the station is actually close to the town
Often, it’s not. It’s okay. The bus service runs regularly from the stations to the cities, roughly in line with the incoming trains. They run less frequently on Sundays and holidays than trains.
Here are two options: Wait until you get to the station to ask for your bus, or go to this map showing Umbria’s towns. Click on the desired town to be taken. You will see a PDF with all the options for local transport (e.g. bus).
Look for the blue symbol of a train moving on tracks in the schedules; this is your station. You can read the following to view all pick-up times. However, we have found that they are not always followed in practice. Scroll down to view drop-off times. We don’t usually worry about which stop is in the middle. With medieval hilltop villages, it’s easy to tell when you are close.
Step 4: Look for buses between Umbrian cities
Some Umbria towns don’t have train stations. Even those that have train stations might be able to connect faster by bus, even if they are not from Rome. It’s worth checking bus schedules.
Sulga Autolinee links cities such as Rome, Florence, and Naples with a variety of Umbrian towns like Todi and Assisi. For all other bus lines, visit here. You’ll see more ways to get there if you click on the desired town.
It’s all about the action: Rome to Todi
Let’s take, for example, that I want to go to Todi (a beautiful town!) From Rome.
First, I would look at the trains that can take me there. This very-useful map shows me that I can (great!). There is a Trenitalia train which runs from Rome to Terni. Then I can jump on a regional train that runs from Terni and Todi.
Next, I visit Trenitalia’s website to check when the Rome-to-Terni trains depart and arrive. Let’s suppose I want to take the train at 9:50 AM from Roma Termini. I will arrive in Terni at 10.39 am. To get the schedule in PDF format, I keep my arrival time in mind and click on “Todi”. Scroll down until you find the Terni->Todi->Perugia schedule. You can then look at the times for when a train departs from Terni. This section is called “Coincidenze Da” and it shows the trains that are coming from large cities. Perfect is the train from Terni to Todi at 11:10am. There are several stops in Todi so I did a quick Google search and found Todi Ponte Brazil. The train arrives at 11:53 am. Great!
But now I need to figure out how to get from Todi’s station into Todi’s center. Although I can call a taxi upon arrival, I would like to check if I could take a bus. This is possible thanks to the Umbria transport website. I click on “Servizi Urbani” to bring me to this map. Next, I click on “Todi.” The PDF of bus schedules opens. I scroll down until the little symbol for “Staz.Todi” appears. I can relax as the bus arrives at 12:17pm.
The trip will still take approximately 2.5 hours. It’s not bad, but I wonder how I could get there quicker.
First, I checked out inter-town buses on the Umbria website. These buses run from Todi to many other hubs such as Perugia or Assisi but not Rome. The Sulga bus website is then checked. Success! The front page shows “Citta Di Castello – Todi Rome”. To ensure that I see everything, I click on the “Orario Completo” button next to it. On page 8 of the PDF, I see that I could take a bus to Todi from Rome’s Stazione Tiburtina at 4:00 pm. It is definitely quicker and takes me directly from Rome to Todi’s center without needing to change lines. But, I must decide if it is okay to arrive in the evening.