Florence is a great walking city, but sometimes you need a little help. You can catch the orange ATAF buses for trips around the city that are just too long to walk (or if the weather is really atrocious!). They are easy to use – simply purchase your ticket from one of the newspaper vendors around town (you can purchase tickets on board but they are more expensive). Currently the rates are €1.20 for 90 minutes for a regular ticket, although they sell multiple day tickets as well.
As you enter the bus (preferably through the front or back doors – save the middle door for exiting passengers), be sure to validate your ticket in one of the little yellow machines. If you are caught without a validated ticket, you will be fined – not knowing the rules is not a valid excuse to avoid the fine!
Check the ATAF website for route planners, fares, and schedules:
The buses are a great way to travel around Florence. If you are only in town for a day, leave your luggage at the train station, hop aboard a bus, and hit the highlights of this spectacular city!
One of the easiest ways to get from the airport to downtown Florence is to take the SITA shuttle. As you walk out of the airport terminal, turn right and head towards the line of taxis. Walk through the taxis and cross the street to the bus stop marked “Shuttle Downtown.” The blue SITA bus runs every half hour from the airport direct to the central train station (Santa Maria Novella) and drops you off in front of it. Buy your ticket (€5) from the driver – pay in cash.
I had done the research on this before heading to Florence and everything (books, website, etc.) told me that I would need to purchase the ticket in the terminal from a machine. But this was not the case – the driver sold the tickets. I looked all over the terminal and could not find the machine mentioned so I finally went to the bus and asked the driver, who sold me and everyone else the ticket.
You can use this same shuttle in reverse to get from the train station back to the airport as you are leaving Florence. It took about 15 minutes to make the drive. At the train station, wait in the same place where the bus originally dropped you off – on the side of the building near the overhang and the small bike parking and taxis waiting. The blue bus will come past the front of the station, passing all the city buses, and make the loop to the bus stop, which is marked by a sign that says “Vola in Bus” and has SITA in the top right corner. (Note: there are other blue buses – this one will say SITA on the side).
Our bus back the airport was about 10 minutes late (we waited 40 minutes) but once it arrived we learned why – the bus was packed full of people and they all had luggage, which is loaded under the bus, so it took longer to load than expected. The driver can help you load your luggage under the bus if you need help.
This was definitely the easiest way to go from the airport to the city center and back again.
After the SITA bus dropped me off at the Santa Maria Novella train station, I still had about a 10 minute walk to my hotel. This was an easy walk, but the roads were very busy and chaotic. Dragging around my suitcase on cobbled streets was awkward. But Florence has some underground walkways around the train station that make it easier and safer to cross to the other side of the streets.
Our bus tour around Italy started in Mestre (continental part of Venice), continued in Verona.
Florence was the third Italian attraction.
We got to Florence by bus from Verona. The total distance is about 240 km (4 hours in the way). We started by E45, continued E35 to Bolonia (140 km, 2 hours and a half), and E35 (100 km, 1 hour and a half) to Florence.
I occupied a seat at the window and was taking a video.
You can watch my 1 min 33 sec Video From Verona to Florence out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
If you like to go to Siena or San Gimignano you have to take a bus at the SITA bus station. This is situated in via Santa Caterina da Siena; it is around 100 meters from Santa Maria Novella train station.
There are various buses to Siena every day. The journey should takes one hour to one hour and half to get there. Ask for a "linea RAPIDA" bus. These buses are faster than the ordinary ones.
As far as I know there aren't any direct buses to San Gimignano. I had to take a bus to Poggibonsi. From there I took another bus to San Gimignano.
In addition to the bus service Florence has a new tram line, aptly named line T1. The service started in 2010 and runs between the central station of Santa Maria Novella and the satellite town of Scandicci.
The ticket is the same as for the bus, that is you have to buy it in advance at the kiosk and then stamp it when getting on the bus. The ticket lasts one hour.
The wagons are very convenient and modern, of course and rides are frequent.
While Scandicci is hardly considered a tourist destination, the T1 can be useful for the tourist because it has one stop at the beginning of the Cascine, the vast green area on the west side of Florence.
So I suggest you: take the tram until the Cascine and then go west following the Arno River. After 500 meters there is also a swimming pool (Le pavoniere) where you can have a bath (entrance fee about 8 euros, something more on the w/e) or hire a bike and continue exploring the park by bike.
The site is open also after the sunset for dining and listening to music.
The administration is planning to build two more tram lines in the near future (hopefully) to relieve a bit the problem of the private cars traffic.
Bus 7/7x runs regularly to Fiesole, a journey of around 20 minutes.
The buses now leave from near Piazza San Pietro, with the stop sited along Via Giorgio La Pira (the side furthest from the church). See photo.
You can buy tickets from the newsagents booth in the centre of the piazza (see photo). If there are two of you a 4-journey ticket costs 4.70 euro. Make sure you validate it twice (numbers 1 and 2) on the way out and twice (3 and 4) on the way back. There are on the spot fines for non-validation and inspectrors do check (they caught someone on my bus).
You can also buy tickets from the driver on this route, but at 2 euro for a single journey. So buying from the newsagent ( a very helpful man with good English on duty when I visited)is a better option.
The bus stops in the main square at Fiesole, and goes up a rather exciting hairpin road to get there...excellent views!
Bus timetables and info in English on www.ataf.net
Terravision run coaches from Pisa airport to S Novella station (their timetables seem to tie in with Ryanair flights). It is best to book tickets online, because then you get priority in boarding (tickets are also on sale in the airport). It is an efficient service, costing 10 euro one-way (April 2011) and takes around 70 minutes. For an extra thrill, you can sit at the front and have a driver's eye view of negotiating Italian traffic. Although we were dropped outside Florence Santa Maria Novella station the return coach was parked some distance away. This meant a walk of about 5 minutes dragging cases etc; not so convenient, I'm afraid.
My second experience with Pisa Terravision was not good. The bus didn't turn up on time, and we were left standing around (damp and chilly) for 45 minutes. No apology or explanation was offered by the somewhat harassed young ticket-collector who was waiting with us. I decided to get the train for my flight back; not sure if I'd risk the bus to the airport again (from the airport is ok, as long as you are happy with potential delays). I had no reply to my complaint emails either.
So for the 2011 trip I used the train. It is cheaper at 5.80 euro one-way..and if you catch the direct airport train the trip only takes an hour. http://www.trenitalia.com/homepage_en.html
The SITA bus station sits 100 meters from the Santa Maria Novella train station. You purchase your tickets inside and the waiting area is there, as well. there is a snack stand there and a few restaurants are within a 1 minute walk if you have to wait for long. The bathrooms are pay bathrooms.
From here you have connections to most smaller cities that trains do not run to. One of the most popular and best destinations is San Gimignano. Sienna and other are served by both. I rode the buses on 4 different occasions and the drivers were helpful each time and the buses were excellent.
We came to Florence in the morning after driving all night. This picture was taken maybe 20 minutes before we reached our destination. Everybody except the driver, guide, my friend (the one who took this photo) and mem was sleeping. My face is pale, maybe because of a lot of alcohol in my blood lol.
It seems the drive was tiring...
Although everything in the centre of Florence can be perfectly reached by foot, you might want to take the bus.
Buy a ticket at a kiosk, a tabaccoshop or at the amjor busstations. When you are in the bus you stamp your ticket in the machine to validate it.
The ATAF website is very good it has routes and timetables, and is in english too!
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