In a previous post, A Short Trip from Rome – Tivoli and Villa D’Este, we covered the journey the from Rome out to Tivoli, primarily to go to Villa D’Este. In this article, the focus will be on getting to Villa Adriana from Rome.
Both Villa D’Este and Villa Adriana are on the UNESCO world heritage list. Villa Adriana was constructed as a retreat for the Roman Emperor Hadrian during the 2nd and 3rd century AD. It’s literally the size of a small town, covering an area of at least 1 square kilometer!
For this trip, you’ll best option for public transportation is probably the COTRAL bus. Again, I’d recommend reading the Tivoli (Villa D’Este) article as it can provide you additional information and pictures. For this discussion we’ll start out from Ponte Mammolo, a metro station on Line B in northeast Rome.
At the Ponte Mammolo station, you can purchase your tickets at the small bar downstairs, at various COTRAL counters like the one near the #1 platform, or at a Tabacchi store like the one just outside the station. I’d suggest getting tickets to and from Tivoli – that will save you time and hassle later. Currently, the price from Ponte Mammolo to Tivoli is €2 per leg. If you have a BIRG ticket, Tivoli is covered by a Zone 3 BIRG ticket. The buses to Tivoli – and also Villa Adriana – will leave from Platform #3 of the Ponte Mammolo station, pictured below. There are TV screens positioned throughout the Ponte Mammolo station that will help you determine which bus to ride.
To know which bus to ride, it’s probably a good idea to plan in advance. From Ponte Mammolo, often there are buses headed to the Tivoli area every 10-15 minutes. And depending on where you want to end up – just outside the Villa Adriana or up the hill on Via Tiburtina – you have to know which bus to ride.
So it’s helpful to know how to read the COTRAL schedules – and they are not easy to understand. ww.cotralspa.it/PDF_Orari_Comune/Tivoli.pdf is the link for the COTRAL bus schedules to and from Tivoli. I suggest you check the COTRAL schedules before departing to Tivoli as the charts you will see in this article are applicable to the date when this article was written. For a better understanding of how to read AND understand the COTRAL timetables, see our posting on How to Read A COTRAL Bus Schedule. The examples used in that article are the routes to and from Tivoli so that could be extremely helpful.
This Google Map displays the site location, key bus stops, and a few landmarks. Throughout the article, we’ll constantly refer back to this Google Map. To most effectively read this Google map, utilize the “+” or “-“ keys to zoom in and out. Use your mouse to reposition the map. The scope of this map is quite broad. Because many of the markers are very close to one another, you’ll have to zoom in close to see their relative positions. On this map
COTRAL – Via Tiburtina, Tivoli. If you’re riding a COTRAL bus from Ponte Mammolo to Tivoli and you plan on walking to Villa Adriana, this is the bus stop you will exit the COTRAL bus. Get off here and head down Via Villa Adriana.
COTRAL – Via Lazio/Via Villa Adriana Bus Stop. This is the approximate location of the COTRAL bus coming from Ponte Mammolo in Rome. Also, the point from which you can catch a return COTRAL bus back to Rome – although in both cases, routes are QUITE limited.
COTRAL – Via Tiburtina, Tivoli – headed to Rome. This is the approximate location of the COTRAL bus stop on Via Tiburtina if you’re headed back to Rome. If you’re walking from Villa Adriana, you’d cross Via Tiburtina and head left from Via Villa Adriana. Many folks walk to this stop or they the C.A.T. 4, and C.A.T. 4x up the hill and then get on the COTRAL bus to Rome at this bus stop.
C.A.T. 4 Bus Stop – Via di Villa Adriana, 184. This is where the local bus will stop if you’re headed to and from Villa Adriana. This is the closest stop to the site. The routes that go here are the 4 and the 4x.
Landmark – The Ciao Centro. A HUGE store located on the RIGHT side of road as you head towards Tivoli. The COTRAL Via Tiburtina bus stop is in about 50 meters – When you see this, hit the button (quickly) and get ready to get off! From here you can walk or ride the C.A.T. 4 or 4x to Villa Adriana.
Landmark – Supermercati - Ariscount. As you head towards Tivoli on the COTRAL bus, you’ll see this Supermercati on your LEFT. Hit the button (quickly) and be ready to get off the bus in about 50 meters at the COTRAL Tiburtina bus stop.
Okay, hopefully you’ve reviewed the How to Read A COTRAL Bus Schedule posting. Using that article and the map above, you can get a general idea of the routes and stops you’ll be taking on your trip to Villa Adriana. Now, let’s look at some of the current bus options available. The following examples, #’s 1- 6, are based only on using the COTRAL buses (Again, check your dates as your route times may be different!).
#1 – From Rome to Villa Adriana
To get to Villa Adriana from Rome – without having to stop in Tivoli (or walk from the main road), you can catch the above COTRAL buses. Realistically, the best opportunity (on a weekday and Saturday) would be the 8:45, 11:45, 13:15, 14:00, and perhaps the 15:00 bus, depending on your intended arrival time (and heat tolerance). As you can see, options for buses from Rome to Villa Adriana are very limited.
The COTRAL bus stop near Villa Adriana is about 250-300 meters from the entrance of the site, just off Via Villa Adriana – This bus stop is the blue number 3 on the above Google Map. These are the COTRAL buses that would offer the shortest walk to the site. From here you would walk down the hill to the Villa. At the end of your visit, you’d come back to this area to possibly catch a different COTRAL bus or perhaps the local C.A.T. bus – info to follow.
At Ponte Mammolo, these buses are usually designated by the name “Via Prenestina” as well as Tivoli. As you can see, these options are quite limited. On Sundays and holidays (the pink column), the schedule is slightly different for buses going from the Ponte Mammolo stop to the Villa Adriana.
#2 – From Rome to Tivoli
If you cannot make any of the limited COTRAL runs that stop on Via Villa Adriana close to the site (and I NEVER seem to hit one), you can always ride ANY bus towards Tivoli from Ponte Mammolo. The difference here is that you’d have to exit these COTRAL buses on Via Tiburtina (the blue number 2 on the Google map). Then you’d have to walk about 8/10 of a mile from this bus stop to the entrance of Villa Adriana (see the blue walking path on the Google map). Or perhaps you could catch a local C.A.T. bus - info to follow.
As you look at these routes, you see there are four separate bus options from Rome to Tivoli. Make no mistake, these buses will not have a big 1,2,3, or 4 labeling them. No, it’s not that easy. Based on the time of departure you can take any of these routes to Tivoli. As you can see from the stops on Bus option #1 (in the white, lower section of the chart above), this route will stop at Piazza Garibadi, but does not stop near Villa Adriana. In the chart, these buses are noted by the superscript “1” behind each of the times – like the first bus at 06:00.
The next bus, the #2 option, is the SAME bus as detailed in the Rome to Villa Adriana route above. If you compare charts, you’ll see the routes marked with the red squares match the times of the #1 example, Rome to Villa Adriana. Again, the superscript 2 tells you that this bus, leaving at this time, will stop near Villa Adriana. These option 2 buses are labeled ROMA-V. PRENESTINA-TIVOLI.
#3 – From Villa Adriana Back to Rome
Time to head back to Rome! The chart above displays the buses that leave from near Villa Adriana – the blue number 3 on the above Google Map – heading back to Rome and the Ponte Mammolo station. Look at the 11:46 time in the chart above. As per the legend below the blue section of the chart, it is the #1 bus option. If you look in the chart below in Example #4, Tivoli Back to Rome, you’ll see a #1 route bus leaving from L.go Saragat at 11:30 – it’s the same bus! So the trip down from Tivoli’s L.go Saragat terminal to the Villa Adriana bus stop, is expected to take sixteen minutes.
As the Villa Adriana site does not open until 09:00, the buses that may work best for you if you’re headed back to Rome after visiting the site might include the following: the 13:21, 14:46, 16:36, or 18:16 buses… and maybe the 20:16 bus during the summer. So realistically, only 4-5 buses each day are really available from the Villa Adriana stop (blue number 3 on the map) back to Rome Mammolo. You can see that on Sundays and holidays (the column in pink on the right), there are more options returning to Rome from Villa Adriana. These Villa Adriana-Rome buses travel on Via Prenestina and can take a bit longer than the more direct bus from Tivoli itself – but you’re not walking up the hill!
Because there are only a few runs that stop near the Villa, these buses are often full. Due to the limited runs and the crowds, many folks opt to ride a C.A.T. bus or walk up the hill to catch the more frequent COTRAL buses leaving from Tivoli.
#4 – From Tivoli Back to Rome
You need to get back to Rome, but you’re up the hill in Tivoli. Here’s the schedule for the COTRAL buses headed from Tivoli back to Rome. The buses on this schedule are returning to Ponte Mammolo, from where you can catch the Metro Line B back into the center of Rome. As you can see from the chart, a few do stop in Villa Adriana, marked by the red boxes and the #2 in superscript after the departure time from Tivoli – these are the same buses from the charts in Example #3, Villa Adriana Back to Rome.
In the #3 bus (at 16:10) you see the option Villa Adriana Bv. “BV”is short for bivio, which translates to “intersection” or “turnoff”. In this chart, it represents the turnoff to Hadrian’s Villa from the main road which is still about a 15 minute walk.
It’s important to note that the start times for many of these buses are reflective of buses beginning at the L.go Saragat Terminal. These are NOT all times which reflect the bus stop at Piazza G. Garbaldi, the stop from which most visitors depart Tivoli. So be patient and give yourself a few minutes as you may have to wait a few minutes beyond these posted times for some of these buses.
When we ride the buses back from Tivoli – either from up on the hill at Piazza G. Garbaldi, or from the lower level at Via Tiburtina – we usually just jump on the first bus that says Rome on the front. After a long, hot day, we just want to sit down! So we’ve ended up getting off the COTRAL buses at Rebibbia, Ponte Mammolo, and Tiburtina… depending on where the bus is headed. Buses going back to Rome, and passing through Villa Adriana, are usually labeled V.ADR-V.PREN-ROMA which represents Villa Adriana, Via Prenestina, and then Rome. Buses that DO NOT go to Villa Adriana, and are headed to Rome, are usually signposted with TIVOLI- V.TIBERTINA.
#5 – From Tivoli to Villa Adriana
Next up, let’s look at COTRAL buses that run between Tivoli and Villa Adriana.
The chart above is the COTRAL route from Tivoli down to Villa Adriana. Again, some of these buses are starting at the L.go Saragat Terminal. The departure times are quite random, with no buses between 14:30 and 16:00 on weekdays and Saturdays. Note that the ticket office at the Villa Adriana site does close some time between 15:30 and 18:00, depending on the month of the year. From our previous chart showing Villa Adriana back to Rome, you can see some of the same #1 route buses… like the 13:05, 14:30, 16:20, and 18:00. We know these buses are supposed to take 16 minutes to get from L.go Saragat to the Villa Adriana. From Piazza G. Garibaldi, it’s 10 minutes or less down the hill to the site.
There are also #2 and #3 route buses that add more options – DO NOT get on these routes in Tivoli expecting to eventually get to Rome Mammolo station. Only the #1 buses are headed there. But the #2 and #3 will get you down the hill! These buses are usually labeled: V.ADR-V.PREN-ROMA (V.ADR represents Villa Adriana and V.PREN is Via Prenestina).
#6 – From Villa Adriana to Tivoli
And the last COTRAL route we’ll look at – in the chart above – is the bus you need if you’d like to go up the hill from Villa Adriana to Tivoli. These buses are headed towards the Largo Saragat Terminal. These buses would start their run near the blue number 3 on the Google Map.
The Local Bus – C.A.T.
An alternative to waiting on the COTRAL bus to go between Tivoli and Villa Adriana is to use the local bus system, called C.A.T. (Cooperativa Autoservizi Tiburtini). Unlike COTRAL, they have a very easy to read website – and in English – See this link: Cooperativa Autoservizi Tiburtini. The bus stops for the C.A.T. are noted by the orange numbers on the Google Map above. The two routes of this system that you would use are the 4 and 4x. Their buses are orange in color and travel these routes every 30-45 minutes throughout the day.
The C.A.T. group also provides their own Google Maps – see these two links for their bus routes:
The C.A.T. buses will cost you €1 to take the trip between the two sites. Tickets can be bought at the CAT office, shops, Tabacchi stands, and news-stands in Tivoli. (DO buy your return ticket in advance if necessary). Their website has a timetable chart, see C.A.T. timetable , for each bus route. (Click on the English button on the top right of the page if your view is in Italian). The trip between Piazza G. Garibaldi and the stop near Villa Adriana – the orange 6 on the Google Map – will take just under 10 minutes.
You can also use the C.A.T. buses to get from the Villa Adriana site up the hill 8/10 of a mile to Via Tiburtina. From there you can catch a COTRAL bus back to Rome – the blue number 5 on the Google Map. So this bus can get you up the hill to Piazza G. Garibaldi, Villa D’Este, and “upper” Tivloi – and it can also help you avoid the walk if you’re catching a COTRAL bus back to Rome on Via Tiburtina. You’ve seen from the schedules that many more buses head back to Rome traveling on Via Tiburtina… then traveling near Villa Adriana.
You can jump off the C.A.T. 4 or 4x bus once you get up the hill at Via Tiburtina, then cross the street heading west (left) to the COTRAL bus stop, and catch the first COTRAL bus back to Rome. Again, on the map, the COTRAL bus stop on Via Tiburtina that returns to Rome is designated by the blue number 5.
Since 1979, C.A.T. has been operating in the Commune of Tivoli. For a one-way trip, you’ll want to purchase a “Simple Ticket:”
- Simple ticket € 1.00
- Validity: a simple ticket is valid for a single trip.
- Purchase: all shops on the communal territory.
- Use: tickets must be validated by the driver, at the beginning of the trip.
Walking to the Site
Our trips to Tivoli and Villa Adriana were often spontaneous – the advantage of living in Rome. So we would just head out on the metro to Ponte Mammolo and then jump on the first bus headed towards Tivoli. As a result, we NEVER managed to get the bus that stops near the Villa. We always had to walk from Via Tiburtina down towards the Villa. And because of your schedules, this may also work best for you. Actually, it’s quite an easy walk!
We would jump off the COTRAL at the blue number 2 on the Google Map above. To help you know WHEN to get off the bus, here are some helpful landmarks and photos. First, as you near the COTRAL bus stop on Via Tiburtina, you will see these landmarks:
On your right, as you near the bus stop, you’ll see this LARGE store – The Ciao Center. When you see this, HIT THE BUTTON to stop the bus as you’re within 50 meters of your stop. On the Google Map, this is represented by the red number 10. Again, this will be on the RIGHT side of the bus as you near the stop.
If you’re on the LEFT side of the COTRAL bus, at at about the same point on the trip, you’ll see this LARGE supermercati Ariscount. It is also about 60 meters from the bus stop, so again, if no one has pushed the button, HIT IT QUICKLY, and get ready to get off the bus. On the Google Map, this is the red number 11. These two landmarks are almost across the street from each other.
So you’ve hit the button, and here’s the view you’ll see out the front of the bus:
In the distance, you can see the hill that most of Tivoli sits on. Up that hill is the route the bus will take if you were to continue up towards Piazza G. Garibaldi and Villa D’Este. But we’re jumping off here! Looking at the bottom picture, the intersection ON THE RIGHT just past where the motorino rider is sitting is Via Villa Adriana. The COTRAL bus stops just beyond the blue-brown-and white signs on the right side of the photo. You would get off the bus and walk back about 15 meters and then head down this street!
In this photo, we are standing on the sidewalk at Via Villa Adriana looking back towards the signage described above. Again, the bus stops just beyond these signs. Just behind me, as I took this picture on Via Villa Adriana, is a small cafè that sits near the corner. We’ve stopped here, had caffè, used the bathrooms, and purchased bottled water before we set off towards the villa. An older woman and her daughter operate the cafè and they make a great caffè! It’s a great little break before you start hiking.
Above is the view as you walk down Via Villa Adriana from Via Tiburtina. The walk is quite easy as the sidewalk is wide and new. A good marker to look for is the electricity tower on your left. It sits at the top of a slight hill and marks a “confusing” intersection.
Okay, you’ve reached the top of this small grade, the electrical towers are on your direct left, and you’re at this intersection. As you can see in the middle of the photo, there’s a sign directing you to GO RIGHT to get to Villa Adriana. DON’T GO THIS WAY! This is signage for those folks who are driving, not walking! There was actually a small pedestrian directional sign – in plastic – attached to the pole the last time I walked this way. It’s a little hard to see.
What you want to do is follow the white arrow in the pavement and go to the left of the yellow building. This route KEEPS you on Via Via Adriana and on the blue line walking path on our Google Map. Once you get past the yellow building, the road will bend to the right and head downhill. (Note – if you look at the our Google Map, the turn to the right is Via Galli on the map. Again, not the way to go for walkers – only drivers!).
This is the view as you walk past the yellow building, which would be on your right. As you can see, the road – Via Villa Adriana – is now bending to the right and it’s all downhill from here!
If you’re riding the 4 bus, the 4x bus, or the COTRAL bus to Villa Adriana, you would be getting on and off at either the blue number 3 or the orange number 6 on the map. You’d turn and head down the hill. If you were walking from Via Tiburtina, you’d also be heading down this same hill – as pictured above. Now you’re within 200 meters of the entrance to Villa Adriana. You can see parking in the distance just past where the car is headed up the road towards us.
Finally, you’ve arrived. As you get to the bottom of the hill, you’ll see the ticket office on your left (top picture) and the entrance gates directly in front of you (bottom picture above).
Leaving Villa Adriana
To return, simply reverse your path. Depending on the time of day and your destination, you can walk up the hill to:
- The COTRAL bus stop (blue number 3) for their bus to Rome – DO VERIFY the departure times of the next COTRAL bus at this stop or you may be standing here a LONG, LONG time as there are limited return runs from this bus stop.
- The C.A.T. bus stop (orange number 6) to catch the 4 or 4x that will take you to Via Tiburtina to connect to the COTRAL bus stop (blue number 5) and then a COTRAL bus ride back to Rome.
- The C.A.T. bus stop (orange number 6) to catch the 4 or 4x that will take you to Piazza G. Garibaldi in Tivoli.
Or you can keep walking up the hill and walk to Via Tiburtina – about 8/10 of a mile and wait at the COTRAL bus stop back to Rome (blue number 5) and ride back to Rome on one of the many COTRAL buses headed that way. If there was a long wait for the next C.A.T. bus, you could walk up to Via Tiburtina, wait at the COTRAL stop (blue number 2), and catch a lift up the hill to Tivoli.
These three pictures trace the route BACK from Villa Adriana to the bus stops. The top picture is just after you left the site, perhaps 100 meters from the entrance. This is Via Villa Adriana, the street you walked down. The second picture is after you pass the hotel and come to the crest of the hill. You see the yellow sign in the center of picture and the edges of the town buildings behind. The last picture is a close-up of that yellow sign, just in front of the playground. As you can see, this is the Roma bus stop!
If all else fails, have the folks at the ticket office call you a taxi and have them take you straight up the hill to Piazza G. Garibaldi to catch a bus – or across town in Tivoli to the train station to catch a train back to Rome.
Villa Adriana Info
Please note: This is an archaeological site. For tourist information and opening hours please follow the link to the Soprintendenza Archeologica del Lazio: http://www.archeolz.arti.beniculturali.it/indexsmt.htm
Note – the bus ticket prices and Site hours were applicable when this article was written.
I hope this bus info has helped you. Remember to check the COTRAL site to verify the times of your buses – especially if you’re trying to make one of the more limited to Villa Adriana connections! The COTRAL buses are easy to use, although they can get crowded. I’ve had to stand a few times headed to Tivoli. Don’t be surprised at Ponte Mammolo when folks CHARGE the doors of an arriving bus. Hold your ground – and your spot!! It can be a 35-45 minute ride depending on traffic. I’d suggest if it’s your first time to sit close to the front so you can see out and find landmarks. I’d also recommend that when you get on the bus, scope out where the “buttons” are to signal you want to get off. On some of the COTRAL buses these buttons are not always obvious – and you’ll want to know if you have to hit one quickly.
The bus drivers will also tell you when to get off. They are used to tourists asking, “Dove si trova Villa Adriana?” Or simply say Villa Adriana? in a questioning voice. They may sigh and grumble, but they’ll help you. Once you’re there, you will find water faucets so do take some water bottles to fill up. In the summer, it can get quite hot!
Lastly, I would implore you to read the other Tivoli article on this website, A Short Trip from Rome – Tivoli and Villa D’Este, to get more insight into the Ponte Mammolo station, ticket purchasing, and more information on getting to and from Tivoli.
Now if all this seems too complicated for you, let someone else do all the planning – like me! Take a Tour – If you prefer a private tour, as a travel advisor, I can set this up. I have many contacts in Italy so if you’re interested in a personal tour, please Contact Me. I can also coordinate your group tour!
Good Luck on your journey!
Ponte Mammolo station waiting area – Photowikipedia
If you are interested in more travel support, contact me – Ron in Rome – at:
Ron Phillips Travel
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FAX: (678) 528-2672
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