By Bus, Florence
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!
And - keep your valuables close and in front of you. These buses can get crowded and pickpockets are around.
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.
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.
Most of the main sights in the city are within walking distance of each other, but you may be tired of walking or you have to go somewhere far from the city center; for instance to Piazzale Michelangelo.
Urban transportation in Florence is run by ATAF (Azienda Trasporti Area Fiorentina). It provides a network of bus lines that serves Florence and surroundings. ATAF buses run around the city from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m..
Tickets and bus passes are sold at tobacconists, bars and at many newstands. You can buy your ticket on the bus too, but you'll have to pay a bit more than the ordinary price.
Don' t forget to validate your ticket in a box inside the bus to avoid a steep fine.
One thing I have always liked about paper transport maps is that [depending on the scale] you usually get to see the entire area covered.
However, one trend I have noticed with online mapping tools, they often show only one grid of the map at a time, To me, this is not very helpful,
Therefore, I have created a simple HTML file that loads the grid images for the Florence city bus map The red rectangle identifies the portions of the bus map that are covered.
To see the very center of Florence, a grid of the map bounded by Strozzi Palace to the north, Santa Croce to the east, Santa Maria Novella station to the west, and Pitti Palace to the south, just use http://www.ataf.net/System/mappe/Ataf_tav_001.pdf
Not having a website, and it not being possible to save an HTML file to VirtualTourist, I have included the HTML code below, I don't own the images, the grid images are actually on the Florence publlic transport website...all the HTML file does is display them. Also, clicking on a grid will open the PDF version of the page.
Copy and paste the HTML code below into a text file, naming it something like FlorenceBus.htm (For Notepad users, use "save as type: All Files (*.*), not Text Documents (*.txt)
Central Florence Bus Map Sections
Central Florence Bus Map Sections
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.
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!
getting to florence from pisa airport is so easy ,get the terravision bus-when you come out of baggage reclaim into arrivals,turn to you right you will see information desk and on its right the ticket office,we bought a return ticket and no more worries job done,they will then send you to another desk ,give them your reciept for payment,and they will write you out your ticket,tell them your return flight date and time ,and they will tell you what time bus to get from florence for your return to pisa airport,no punching or validating your ticket as i read before i went on the bus that nonsense is stopped now,come out of terminal and turn right about 30 mtrs,then left into coach park,you will see one or two terravision buses there, its usualy the first one you want, give your ticket to attendent or driver they tear off there half you keep the other for you return,when you get off at florence at santa maria novello station,its the same stop for you return,august 2009
You can easily walk all around Florence. For an inexpensive city tour take bus number 12 or 13. Each makes an hour long circuit through the city. It's a good way to familiarize yourself with the city.
You can also take the orange electric buses (routes A, B, C, or D) which are able to navigate Florence's narrow streets.
You must buy your tickets before boarding. You can buy them from newstands, tobacconists, or the bus termini. You can buy a daily pass or a ticket for four trips, which works out a little cheaper than single tickets.
To going to The Mall you have to go to sita bus station, situated in Via Santa Catalina de Siena next to the train station and take the bus to Leccio and leave it in the stop called The Mall. There are 3 buses per day so recomended it take the one at 9 am to goint out and the one at 12.45 to going back to Florence. It takes about 1 hour and best thing to do is take a seat in the window and enjoy the sights that Tuscany offers. The ticket cost 3.10 per trip and you have to buy the tickets (going out and back) in the information officce inside the station and the platform to the bus is 10 or 11, not remember well.
Para ir a The Mall tienes que ir a la estación de sita bus que está junto a la estación de tren y coger el autobus que va a Leccio y que te deja justo en el centro comercial. Hay solo 3 autobuses al día así que es mejor coger el que sale a las 9 de la mañana y que regresa a Florencia a las 12.45. Se tarda 1 hora en llegar, recomiendo coger asiento junto a la ventana para poder disfrutar de las vistas que ofrece la toscana que son una pasada. El billete cuesta 3.10 euros por viaje y se compra en la ventanilla de información de la estación de autobuses, el andén donde cogimos el autobus era el num 10 u 11 no recuerdo bién.