At some point you will need to renew your passports. It is possible to do it entirely by mail and can download all the forms you need from the American Embassy Website, and then mail it in. You will want to be sure you use registered mail, or, if you’re in a larger city, you can use one of the standard courier services. The key, of course, is the tracking as you do not want to take any chances with these crucial documents. I would also mention that you can go to Florence, Naples, or Milan and use the consulates there if that is an easier trip.
Also, it is important to pay special attention to the photo size. US passport photo size is different than EU passport size. The details are on the web page. Be sure to take off your glasses if you wear them; this is a new rule. And don’t smile!
So anyway, you can mail it in, or, do like we did and take the opportunity to take a day trip to Rome and play tourist. The embassy is within walking distance of Termini Station. It is about a 20 minute walk and the route follows main roads. (Map Link.) You have to make appointments for your renewal; if there are two people, you need two appointments. You make the appointments online. The entrance you want to go to is up along the Via Veneto, nearly to the intersection of the Via Boncompagni. You will see some people lined up there. There are TWO lines. One is for US Citizen Services and will be the shorter line. Have your printout of your appointment handy to show to the guards, and they will check the list and let you into the security station. You will have to surrender your cell phone here and pick it up again when you leave. [Tip – you can arrive early. Our appointments were at 9 and 9:15 and we arrived at perhaps 8:45.)
After security you will find signs directing you to Citizen Services. You will also see a handy photo booth to take your passport photos. Cost is one Euro. Proceed on up the stairs and you end up in a room that looks like any post office. Take a number and wait your turn. There are separate windows for process and payment. After they take your papers and make sure everything is correct, they send you to the payment window. Pay and then go back to the first window. (They hold your number place so you don’t have to wait again in line.)
Our cost was 110 USD for each passport renewed; we chose to have our passports sent back by courier, but you can pick them up at the embassy if you want to go back to Rome. There are downloadable forms for the courier service you can fill out on the embassy site. It cost 27EU to have them brought to our door. The turnaround was very quick. We got an email from the embassy that they had arrived back a week later, and about two days after that they were delivered to our door.