Sacrofano, Italy: Everything Is Coming Up Rossi


I’ve sung the praises of small towns so often that I feel like a broken record. In case you missed it, Pat’s recent post on Diacceto is yet another verse of the same song. This time the town is Sacrofano, a small town just north of Rome. I won’t keep you in suspense, Sacrofano is wonderful … but … small towns do present their challenges.

Our BlaBlaCar pilot, Stefano, and his girlfriend. Super sweet people!

We elected to not rent a car and rely on public transportation instead. It made sense since all we planned to do was go into Rome to see the sights and hike the hills near Sacrofano. The Roman metro/bus/train system is inexpensive and, in the urban areas, runs frequently and is easy to use. The thorn in our side though was the bus link between the suburban train station near Sacrofano and the actual town of Sacrofano. That thorn was called Rossibus.


Insert Impending Doom Music Here

Holidays and weekends apparently do not compute on Rossibus. As luck would have it, we had two holidays and one weekend during our one week stay. Purely by chance, and the kindness of strangers, we side-stepped our first encounter with Rossibus. We had taken a Blablacar from Florence to Rome. Once again, very nice people. Our driver dropped us off at the small train station where we were to wait for the 8 pm Rossibus. He was a very efficient driver and we arrived at 6:30 pm. Ok, better early than late. It wouldn’t be the first time that we’d need to kill time at a small station.

The ever elusive RossiBus (stock photo of one in the wild)

I went up to a young woman sitting on the curb to confirm that the Rossibus left from in front of the station. She said, “Yes, but not very often,” in very good English, and then, “My mom is coming to take me to Sacrofano. We live there. She will take you too.” Mom showed up moments later and, with a smile on her face, welcomed us to her car. We all chatted the whole 15min ride. Very kind people. That is how we narrowly escaped our first Rossibus experience which, knowing what we know now, would have likely been a frustrating and nerve-wracking affair.


Rossibus, Rossibus, where are you, Rossibus?

The first course of The Feast at Tonino’s

Our Airbnb hosts, Francesco and Antonella, owned the restaurant downstairs from our apartment, Da Tonino. Many of the reviews raved about it, so we took advantage of them opening on the holiday for lunch the next day (usually only open on weekends) and put off visiting Rome. Wow! The reviews were right. The food and atmosphere were excellent. Afterward, it was recommended that we take a stroll through the old town. It was a very cool, very old, old town with streets so narrow you could touch the walls on both sides and no cars could fit. It was a very nice way to finish the day and, as an added bonus for following our stomachs rather than our guidebook, we avoided another sure-to-disappoint Rossibus experience.

Francesco manning the grill

When in Rome

Day 3: Time to actually venture into Rome. Armed with a camera, snacks, wine, and a bunch of starred locations on Google Maps, we left the apartment at 6:15 am to catch the 6:30 Rossibus. The walk to the bus stop was only 5min,

Little Sacrofano train station

but it was a good thing we went early. Just as we arrived, at about 6:20, the Rossibus was leaving. Pat ran after it and the driver stopped and let us on. Whew! The next bus wasn’t scheduled for more than an hour later.

We spent all day walking around Rome (to be covered in an upcoming post). We walked until we were pooped then found the metro to take us to the other metro to take us to the train that would take us to the station where, in theory, Rossibus would pick us up and take us to Sacrofano.

The metros and train went like clockwork. We arrived at the little, suburban train station and asked the train ticket woman when the next Rossibus was due. “Ten minutes. Wait here.” She motioned toward a bench. We obediently sat our butts down and waited. About nine minutes passed when we saw a Rossibus blow right by the station and head off toward Sacrofano. Crap! I went back to the train ticket woman and said the bus just went by and asked if we needed to stand on the road to flag it down. “No. Wait here. The bus comes here,” then she pointed at the bench again. She consulted her schedule and advised us that it would be another 20min.


Rossibus, You Make a Roomba Look Like it Has a Schedule

We resumed watching for the Rossibus from a short wall a little closer to the road. At approximately the prescribed time a minibus zipped by the station and as it made its turn toward Sacrofano, we could read ‘Rossibus’ on its rear end. What the heck??? We were officially irritated and no longer trusted the train ticket woman. Pat was devising a plan for a roadblock so the next bus couldn’t slip through. It involved explosives and we were completely out of those.

The RossiBus schedule – ha ha ha ha!

Now, what do we do? A woman arrived by train and came to sit on the wall by the road with us. “Rossibus?” we asked. She nodded. We pointed at our watches. She held up five fingers and said, “cheen-kwah”. Great, five-o-clock was 40min away. At 5:15, 55min later, a train and a Rossibus simultaneously arrived. Finally! We jumped on the bus, along with a few passengers from the train, handed over 2€, and took a seat. It was a good thing too because my plan was to throw Pat out in front of the next Rossibus unless we found the explosives necessary for his plan.

Mercifully, it rained the next two days. We stayed in Sacrofano and didn’t have to deal with Rossibus. The forecast for Saturday was good though and we hadn’t seen the Vatican yet.

We woke to our alarm at 5:30 am Saturday morning, dosed ourselves with caffeine, ate a little breakfast, and headed out the door at 6:10 to make sure the 6:30 Rossibus didn’t leave us behind. We were encouraged to see the Rossibus parked at the bus stop, the driver getting ready, and other passengers waiting.


Rossibus, Use Your Powers for Good, Not Evil!

A couple of minutes before departure time, a blue bus showed up and everyone waiting at the bus stop boarded it, totally ignoring the Rossibus. I asked one of the passengers if it was going to the train station and, yes, it was. Ok. We aren’t picky. Red bus. Blue bus. It’s all good. We went up to the driver to pay, but he refused to take our money, pointed off the bus, and said, “Rossibus.” Ugh.

Very cool winding, narrow street in old town Sacrofano

We disembarked the blue bus and went back to the Rossibus. The driver looked at us and shook his head, said a bunch of stuff in mostly Italian including “no train,” then pointed at the blue bus. Splendid. We re-boarded the blue bus through the back door, still ticketless, hoping not to be noticed. We started considering our options, all of which included Rossibus to bring us back. Hmmm… not worth the uncertainty nor the guilty conscience for not buying a bus ticket. We jumped off the bus, went back to the apartment and caught a little more shut-eye.

Turns out we had a very nice day VinoHiking in the hills around Sacrofano. In the evening we considered trying to visit the Vatican again in the morning… Sunday morning… on the Sunday Rossibus schedule… It must have been the wine talking, but we were savvy enough to scrap that plan and went on another VinoHike instead. Very pretty and very relaxing.


Rossibus, You Couldn’t Even Drive Me to Drink

On our final night, we received the less than welcome news from our hosts that the next day was a holiday and Rossibus was to run on the Holiday Schedule. They typed up the schedule and pinned it to our door. It looked very convincing and almost official. We let them know which bus we intended to catch and Francesco said he would take us and our bags down to the bus stop. It wasn’t necessary since the bus stop was so close but very nice.

A view of Sacrofano from a nearby hill – Photo PK

In the morning we said our goodbyes and rode down to the bus stop with Francesco. The bus was there, but not the driver. Francesco asked a man sitting at the bus stop what the situation was. A look we knew meant nothing good, crept across his face. Wonderful. Now, what has Rossibus done? The man told Francesco that the bus wasn’t running today. More information was demanded by Francesco. I don’t think any more was given. Francesco returned to the car and said “No problem! I will drive you to the train station.” What luck. We nearly declined the ride to the bus stop because it was so near. We’d probably still be sitting at the bus stop if Francesco wasn’t there.

Small towns are great and we loved Sacrofano, but they can present some challenges too. Relying on public transportation in the outskirts requires patience and the kindness of strangers. Luckily we had both.

Hike Drink Live Laugh

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