Essential advice for the Eternal City

Rome’s “secret” train that gets you across the city in 20 minutes – for only 1 euro

Rome’s “secret” train that gets you across the city in 20 minutes – for only 1 euro

There’s a regular, fast train route running across Rome that can rocket you between Rome’s major metropolitan areas at high speed and next to no cost – and almost no visitors know about it.

The FL3 train line is little known to visitors, but it connects several important parts of the city in no time at all. It flies over traffic jams, crowded buses, unreliable trams, and claustrophobic subway trains. For many journeys it is far preferable than any alternative.

The train runs around every 15 minutes – no fewer than 33 times during operating hours in fact – and connects St. Peter’s, Trastevere, Ostiense, Tuscolana, and Tiburtina (see below) – the entire journey takes just over 20 minutes, but you can pick it up at any point and in either direction. The train’s ultimate destination is Viterbo in northern Lazio.

The FL3 train is run by TrenItalia, Italy’s national rail body, which suffers much less from delays, strikes, and seems generally more reliable than the regular public transport in Rome. The large, modern double-decker trains are clean, comfortable, and air conditioned. Compare that taking a similar route by taxi, which would cost around €30 and take the best part of one hour, or by other public transport, which can be grimy, hot, and would take around 45 minutes for 50c extra.

Important note: when travelling on these or any other intercity trains in Italy, you must validate your ticket just before you get on the train, or you could face a stiff fine! Validation is done in machines on or near the platforms that look like this.

How to do it

To get the train, go into one of the stations mentioned and buy a ticket from the machine. This will give you the time of the next connecting service and crucially the number of that train. This is in a form such as “R23123” (confusingly the name FL3 is only used for publicity and not on the timetables). Remember that number and then check the screens for the correct platform. Once the train arrives just hop on and you’ll be at your destination within minutes.

Don’t forget to validate your ticket too before you get on the train – this is done in one of the machines shown.

Note that if you hold a valid standard public transport ticket or pass, that is also applicable on this train for the stations shown and so a Trenitalia ticket is not needed.

Here’s where you can find the official timetable > >

  • San Pietro
    Just 5 minutes’ walk south of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican City.
  • Trastevere
    This is a little further south of Trastevere than the name would suggest – about 20 minutes’ walk into Trastevere proper – but it’s also on the No. 8 tram line which can get you there in less than five minutes. It’s also just over the river from Testaccio.
  • Ostiense
    This station is right in the heart of the southern historical city – at the foot of the Aventine hill and Testaccio, just next to Piramide Metro (on line B), and has a tunnel direct to Eataly.
  • Tuscolana
    A little further away from anything historic of note, this station is five minutes from the shopping street of Via Appia Nuova and the Re di Roma area, twenty minutes’ walk from the cathedral at San Giovanni, and connects to the Metro (line A) at Ponte Lungo.
  • Tiburtina
    This is Rome’s second major train and bus station, with access to all parts of Italy. It’s near the vibrant Piazza Bologna area and about 15 minutes’ walk from the student nightspot of San Lorenzo.

Note that some of these city destinations are also covered for the same price by the FL1 train that runs from Tiburtina Station to Fiumicino airport, and from Termini by the FL5 train to Civitavecchia. See the map below for full information.

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