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If you happen to be driving to Florence, park near
the church Santo Spiroto. There is parking along the street that is neither posted or metered. You will be a short walk to the Pitti Palace and then an easy stroll to the Uffizi and beyound. I parked there for 6 hours with no problems.
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Think Twice (Part I)
We picked up our rental car the day we left Florence. Wow! It was terrifying! I picked a rental office very close to our hotel. We walked to the rental location, and got the car. I was very tempted to turn right around and give it back. It took close to 45 minutes to maneuver the round abouts, and the tiny one way streets to get back to the hotel. From the hotel, it was an attempt to get out of town in one piece. Another 15 minutes of terror as people zipped around with no regard to lanes, signals, or road rules. We were glad to have our car in the smaller towns, but I would think twice before picking it up in any of the major cities again. Not worth the stress!
Horn honking and shaking fists seem to be the norm :)
Check out my Rome page for Part II, the rental return.
- Road Trip
If you still don't want to walk around in Florence by foot I can recommened taking a taxi. The traffic is awful in Florence, which means you might end up paying quite some money if you go during the wrong time of the day. But it's still easy to find a taxi, and if you call for one they will come very quickly.
Just remember that the taxameter starts when you make the call, so if the taxi company send a taxi to you from the other side of the city, it will be very expensive...
Best place to grab a taxi is at the central station, Santa Maria Novella. There are taxis passing by all the time at the special taxi parking, so you just need to stay in line and wait for your turn. If you're unlucky the line is very long, and then you'll have to wait. So if you're going somewhere important it could be a wise choice to go there early.
- Business Travel
Rent a small car
You don't really need a car in Florence, but if you decide to get one, I'd recommend renting a small one. It'll be much easier to find parking spaces. Now, the car in the picture might be the extreme, but we did see several locals driving these buggies around.
Parking at the Main Train Station
Next to the main train station in Florence, Santa Maria Novella, there is a large underground car park/parking garage. It's not cheap, but it is open 24 hours a day, and from there you can walk to almost everything. Just follow the signs to Stazione S.M. Novella. Acrosss the street from the train station, toward the church Santa Maria Novella, you'll see a Tourist Information office where you can get a free map, etc.
They really do move your cars.....................
.......if you park in the wrong place. I saw lots of towtrucks roaming the streets. This one was causing much interest as it removed a car, parked on a corner so the bus couldn't get round (and thus creating a huge, horn-honking tailback). I also saw a police scooter being similarly lifted, but didn't dare take a photo as a (rather cross-looking) police lady was standing by! So park in permitted places, or expect your car to disappear (and you'll have to pay to get it back).
- Road Trip
In Sep 2007 we spent one night in Florence, arriving by train from Venice. The following day we picked up a hire car, as we were going to be exploring Tuscany for a few days and car is the easiest way to get around this region. Please note that you do not need a car to explore Florence - by foot is the best way to do this!
We hired a car through Europcar. We have used them several times in Europe and have found the prices competitive, service good, and cars reliable. Europcar have a few depots in Florence, so when you are booking take care to choose the most convenient one for you. We booked and paid in advance to secure the best rate, which included unlimited kilometres.
- Road Trip
I flew into Pisa and took a taxi from the airport to Florence, this is about an hour and probably more journey and cost about €150, so make sure you pop this into the cost of travel should you decide to take this route.
- Road Trip
I can´t recommend driving a car in Florence
NOT by car. If you are not used to drive in the Italian traffic you better keep yourself outside of Firenze.....There are so many one way streets that it´s hard to find your way... When you think you have a plan how to drive from one point to another it´s soon will be useless cause there will be a one way road in the wrong direction.....
The main station is situated right in the city center....
By foot or bus......The Italian are taking their Vespas! Best choice!
Italy has an excellent network of motorways (autostrada), the main north–south link being the Autostrada del Sole, or A1, which links Milan with Reggio Calabria in the toe of Italy. Speed limits on motorways are 130kph (81mph) for cars of 1100cc or more and 110kph (68mph) for smaller cars.
All motorways are tolled; driving from Florence to Rome will cost approximately L25,000/EUR13. Those on a budget may prefer the strade statali (SS), which are toll free and are often fast, multi-lane carriageways. The speed limit on these roads is 110kph (68mph) – too slow for the speed-obsessed Italians and therefore a more leisurely drive for the rest of the world. Strade bianche, small country roads, abound in the countryside around Florence and are well worth exploring for their picture postcard views of the Italian countryside.
Routes to the city: The central road artery of Italy, the A1, links Florence to Milan, Bologna, Rome and Naples. Depending on the direction of approach, access is via the first exit marked Firenze (Nord or Sud), then signs for the city centre are marked (centro). There are tourist offices on the A1 north and south of the city, if navigation proves tricky. The Autostrada del Mare (A11) is the main road to Pisa and the coast, linking the city to Tuscan towns such as Lucca, Prato and Siena.
Driving times to Florence: From Bologna – 1 hour; Rome – 2 hours; Milan – 3 hours.
The Autostrada is equal to the U.S. Interstate Highway system (more specifically the toll turnpikes around the U.S.). The speed limit is about 130 km/hr. You pay for the distance you drive. When getting on or off, unless you have a pass, you go to the far right line and get a ticket. You do the same, when getting off, hand the ticket to the agent and he tells you how much you owe.
A few differences with the Autostrada. Once you get on, you are on. If you miss your exit, it can be a pain in the ass because there aren't as many turn-offs and you can't simply get off, go over the overpass and backtrack as you would in the U.S. Also, the on and off ramps have quite tight turns so you have to go fairly slow when exiting and entering. This can cause problems merging with the high speed traffic. Oh, and please let the Italians drive on the left lane, slower drivers should keep right. The shoulders also aren't that broad, but one nice thing, if you do break down, there are plenty of SOS phones en route. And lastly, for gas and food, you don't have any other choice then stopping at the Autogrill. There will be different gas stations along the way (though most are located at or near the Autogrill). The Autogrill is essentially a mini-mall that has a variety of food options. It's a very nice concept, but it tends to concentrate drivers all in one location (since this is there only stopping option). You will find burger king, pizza hut, a wine and cheese shop, convenience store with car items, etc. at the Autogrill.
If you use Michelin's website, you can calculate how much your journey will cost and where the tolls are located.
- Road Trip
Driving in Florence
I wouldn't really recommend driving in Florence. There is parking on the Oltarno side right next to the river. Driving isn't so difficult, it's just high level of traffic and the signs that will cause problems. Signs are very small and as soon as you see a sign telling you to get into another lane, it's already too late. I'm just thankful that my driving experience in Florence was not on a weekday during peak traffic hours....I have a feeling I would have had problem then.
Try not to drive in Florence
The city's traffic is rather thick and chaotic; also, one needs a permit to drive in the central parts of Florence. I know people who have permits to the areas where their jobs are or where their kids go to school, and yet they prefer to take the bus or bike, because their permit allows them to be in that area for a very limited period of time (in many cases just for an hour, or even a half hour!). This doesn't mean I recommend biking, though! I admire all those nicely dressed Florentines - skirts, high heels and all - who bravely zip by on bikes, but I feel much safer walking.
Travelling around Tuscany in a...
Travelling around Tuscany in a car could be a bit of an obstacle. If you decide to see Lucca, Pisa, Siena or San Gimagnano you'll probably come across quite a few rural roads which are slow and winding. However the scenery is really nice which should make up for the extra time spent travelling.
Drive there and leave you car...
Drive there and leave you car in a garage. Walk everywhere. Or better yet take a train.
Parking is hard so arrange for garage service through your hotel. Yes, that is a car the size of a moped in the picture!!! That way they can put it in a small space.
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