General Tips, Florence
IRIS TICKET is the new way to discover Florence, Prato and their surroundings: a single ticket, entitling you to free access to all transports in and outside town in the whole territory of the 2 provinces. It is valid on urban buses, extra-urban buses, interregional, regional and direct trains. It also offers discounts in museums, theatres, for exhibitions and other events.
IRIS TICKET costs 8 Euros for 1 day (children from 4 to 12, 5 Euros - children under 4 travel for free) and 23 Euros for 3 days (reduced 12 Euros). It can be used with the following transport companies: ATAF, CAP, COPIT, SITA, A.L.A., Fratelli Alterini, Fratelli Magherini, Autoservizi Marradi, Autolinee Lazzi, Florentia Bus, Li.nea, Renieri Bus, Puccioni Bus, Trenitalia (Trains IR-R-D 2nd class only). It can be purchased at their ticket offices and at the APT information offices.
If you're just visiting Florence you don't need to hire a car, everything is easy to get to by foot or using one of the many buses.
If you intend to visit the other cities in the region then consider the public transport.
For Pisa the train service is cheap and very frequent - http://www.trenitalia.it/home/en/
You need bus number 3 from the station in Pisa to the main sights (Leaning Tower etc).
For Siena the blue SITA coaches are efficient and take you to a square which is walking distance to the main centre (don't take the train to Siena as the station is a long way from the centre).
Finding the right coach can be a little confusing as there are two coach companies running into Florence. The SITA coaches run from the coach station on the left side of the railway station (off Via Santa Caterina Da Siena). SITA runs to Siena, Volterra, Arezzo, San Gimignano, Greve and Poggibonsi.
The other coach company (LAZZI) runs from Piazza Adua to Pisa, Prato, Lucca and Pistoia.
At least that's according to my old Let's Go guide!
Depends on where you are coming from. When I go back to visit my family in the States, I book a flight in and out of Milan because it's usually about $200 less expensive than Rome or other major airports near. I then take the train to Florence which is about a three hour beautiful ride through some of Tuscany.
Florence does have an airport but it is pretty small, the next largest one is in Pisa where I just booked a round trip to London, on short notice, for $80!!! Pisa is about a 40 minute train ride from Florence and the train takes you to the airport.
Use your two feet and by all means, do not rent a car. This city has the worst streets and there is always traffic. It's small, you don't need a car unless you want to go into the country.
How to reach Florence
- by car (A11 Highway).
There are various car parks in the outskirts of the city.
In the centre it's quite easy to get around on foot or by bus.
- by train (Santa Maria Novella train station is right in the heart of the city).
- by bus (the 'APT' (Local Tourist Office) in Marina di Massa will be able to give you all the information you might require).
One piece of advice ! Dont be lazy ...you cant appreciate florence if you dont walk ! Forget the bus and coach ...a walk to even the Piazzaleo Michaelangelo doesnt take very long ...and believe me the walk is worth it !
Taxis are few and far apart, in Florence as in any Italian city. Italian taxis do not stop if you wave at them, Italians telephone booking for a taxi maybe 15 minutes before they need it and taximeters start running BEFORE they arrive to pick passengers! In addition, there are a dozen places where taxis park, like in front of the train station. That is why your hotel porter will offer to get a taxi for you, if you just walk out of your hotel, you will not find a taxi.
For those that are stopping in Florence for just a day and want to take advantage of the city without the hassle of dragging your luggage around with you, there is a luggage storage service at the Santa Maria Novella train station. The train station is centrally located and only about a ten minute walk from the Duomo and other sites in Florence.
Charges start at €5 for the first five hours, and afterwards priced by the hour afterwards. Details can be found on the train station website.
If you are arriving in Florence by airplane and have a long layover, you might also consider this option since there are no luggage lockers at the airport. You can take the SITA bus to the train station, leave your luggage, and enjoy some time visiting the sights or have a meal in Florence before the next leg of your flight.
Firenze is served with high-speed trains that link it to Rome and Milan.
The airport is relatively small, and does not handle many international flights.
All attractions can be reached walking. If necessary, the bus service is good and easy to use. The only time I needed it was when I wanted to get to Piazzale Michelangelo.
If scooting around on a Vespa is not your thing, Florence is intrinsically walkable, and if you do need a lift, the taxi drivers are fabulous. When I needed a doctor on New Year’s day, 2002, our driver took us to the hospital, got out and knocked on doors until he found the area that was open on the holiday, and went in with us to explain my symptoms tin Italian to the nurse/receptionist. What service! Also, if you need a taxi and find yourself on a cab-less street, just pop into a hotel and ask a nice clerk or concierge to have one sent; you’ll get a little “reservation” ticket for your taxi. Efficient system.
By Bus ; There is a local bus service which runs from Peretola to Florence. You can buy a ticket at the 2nd floor café. The bus shelter is past the parking lot.
By Bus : Maps and timetables are available for a small fee at the ATAF booth next to the train station or at the office at Piazza del Duomo. You can purchase your tickets ahead of time at tobacco shops, newsagents, automatic ticket machines close to main stops or from ATAF booths. There are two types of tickets – one is valid for 1 hour from the first time it is used and the other is a 3 hour ticket
By Car : As in the US. driving is on the right side of the road. There are certain restrictions which include the use of a horn or at least where signs prohibit its use. The police are allowed to issue on the sport fines. Be careful to keep your tank with a reasonable amount of petrol on a Sunday as only a few service stations open (except on autostradas) and usually only for a limited amount of hours. Drink driving imposes a heavy fine as well you could fact imprisonment.
By Taxi : Taxis are available at ranks throughout the city including the train station. There are extra charges for Sundays, nights or telephoned call outs.
I tried to change my ticket reservation from 3pm to an earlier one at Firenze SMN so to deal with the tax refund stuff and this rude, unhelpful and uninformative station staff talked to me in Italian when I stated I don't understand the language and he was so rude and sarcastically asked me if I wanted to go for the 1am train when I asked him to tell me what time the trains will be available between 1 to 2. Noting that I was copying his staff number, he even attacked and torn off my paper and threatened me that he would cancel my reservation (No reservation means No ride or be fined)
The worst thing was I tried to file a complaint at the station and the train staff there showed no interest in dealing with it and told me 'No complain, no complain!'
So, I tried to file a written complaint at their formal website, and again, it was hopeless because there is a technical error in inputting the date in the calendar for the complaint form and so the complaint can never be submitted. The most ridiculous thing is the complaint form is only available in Italian version.
I guess this is the main reason why Italians can be so rude.
If you want to have a pleasant journey, unlike mine, jot down his staff no. and stay away from one of these rude customer service officers if you ever have to come to this station.
There are many ways to go to Fireze.
1. There are 2 airports: Americo Vespucci (for domestic flights) and Galileo Galilei (for international flights near Pisa).
2. There are 2 bus - stations: Lazzi Station (for international services across Europe) and SITA (for domestic services).
3. Railway: Across Europe.
4. Car: Take the A1 highway.
Train. Firenze is a major train hub and trains leave from here for destinations all over Italy and Europe. Obviously you can drive in but I didn't see any car parks, so you may have to park out in the suburbs and walk in. I'd imagine a coach would be an option too. Firenze has an airport.
Walk, or if you can brave it: scooter! Sorry I don't know where you can rent them. Bicycles are out of the question unless you have a death wish. Walking is by far the best option as the core of Firenze is not too big and you get to see it much better!
By plane (Air France and Alitalia is the only internantionals flying here)
The most of the internatinal airlines fly to Pisa ( app. 1 h by bus to Firenze.)
Airport bus from the airport of Florenze downtown.
this town is made for walking. The streets are so narrow and the distances so short- Otherwise you can take the bus!
Driving by car is to dangerous in this city!!
You can do every sightseeing by FOOT-WALK or busses, so don´t use a car there! The driving of a Vespa (motor-scooter) is supposed by a good experience of Italian TRAFFIC RULES (the traffic is flowing everytime, no matter of traffic lights or traffic signs...). So be careful if you drive the first time in Italy ;-) !