Florence

Best Time To Travel

Florence is always buzzing with tourists, you will find them in large groups surrounding attractions such as the Duomo di Firenze, even in the worst weather. If you are looking to visit and experience warm weather, head to Florence in early April before it becomes too hot and humid in the city. The restaurants and cafes will open up their outdoor seating when the warm weather rolls in. If you're looking to escape the crowds, January and February deter some tourists due to the cold. Try to avoid traveling to Florence in August because of the smoldering heat. Many Italians flee the city to go on holiday and because of this, most popular shops are closed for the month.

By bus
By bus

Bus stops have clear, schematic labelling of the routes and are all named according to the street name or major landmark nearby. They do not always give an indication of bus times, however, so it is sometimes difficult to figure out how long it may take till the next bus arrives. Tickets must be bought in advance from Tobacconists or newspaper sellers, and are usually valid for one hour over the whole network, so that you can just hop on and off at will. They cost €1.20 for 90 minutes, and multiple day tickets are also available. Tickets are also available on the bus, sold by the driver, at an increased price of €2 therefore, no more excuses in case of ticket control.

Better value is the €5 day ticket also from Tobacconists or news agents, best to add your name to the ticket and show your pass if needed by ticket control. Same as with cheaper. Tickets on first use need to be inserted into the ticket machine on the bus.

By plane
By plane

Florence's Amerigo Vespucci international airport IATA: FLR known to locals as "Peretola" (http://www.aeroporto.fire...) has good connections to the center of the city, which can be reached in about fifteen minutes by taxi or bus. The Ataf-Sita "Vola in Bus" "Fly by bus" service costs €6.00 one way, and makes the circuit between the airport and the central train station every half an hour from 5:30AM to 8PM, then once an hour afterwards.

Note that 5:30AM bus leaves from the corner of Valfonda and Piazza Adua which is north of the train station instead of from the ATAF-SITA bus station which is on the west side of the train station. You can buy the ticket on the bus.

There is a €20 flat rate for taxis from the airport to any place in the historic center of Florence. They will charge €1 extra for each piece of luggage handled by the driver.

Much cheaper flights to destinations throughout Europe can be found at Pisa airport IATA: PSA (http://www.pisa-airport.it/). Low-cost airlines which fly to Pisa include Thomsonfly, Easyjet, Ryanair, Transavia, Wizzair and HLX. Pisa airport and Florence are connected by rail and by bus. Both leave from and arrive at the main entrance to the airport. The bus station in Florence is immediately across the street from the main railroad station, "Firenze SMN". Train schedules are available at (http://www.trenitalia.it). Bus schedules are available at (http://www.terravision.eu...). The train costs €8.10, the bus costs €6 one way, and €10 for return. The buses run more often. Some trains do not arrive at the main railroad station, and others require a change at Pisa Centrale.

By train
By train

Modern, fast trains connect Florence with Italy's main cities, and local trains from other parts of Italy and express trains from around Europe arrive in Florence. The main station is Firenze Santa Maria Novella (http://www.firenzesantama...), on the edge of the historic old town. Other small stations are Firenze Campo Marte near Florence Stadium and Firenze Rifredi. If you take an Intercity train to Florence, you may need to change at Rifredi for another train to Firenze S.M.N. The transfer between stations via train is usually already covered by your train ticket to check for this, your train ticket should not differentiate between the Florence train stations and will simply say "Firenze". If you happen to have a long wait for the transferring train, it is also possible to take a bus to the city centre, but this is probably not covered by your train ticket.

You might want to consider the overnight train connections to Florence from Paris or most German towns. For example, the train from Florence to Munich leaves at 21:53 and arrives in Munich the next morning at around 08:00. You can sleep comfortably the entire way and it costs about €100. However, recent reports indicate that overnight train service in much of Europe - including the service between Florence and Paris - has deteriorated badly in recent years, and prices have risen. It is now much cheaper, and, of course, much faster, but not as beautiful and nice, to fly EasyJet from Paris - Orly to Pisa and take the approximately 1 hour train or bus ride from the Pisa airport to the main railroad station, Firenze SMN, in central Florence.

The train to Vienna takes ten hours and costs €70.

By car
By car

Florence is connected by good highways to the rest of Italy. The easiest way to get in and out of the city from the A-1 Autostrada, which connects Florence to Bologna, Milan and the North, and to Rome and the South, is to use the "Firenze - Impruneta" exit. This is the same route for those leaving for or arriving from Siena on the "Fi-Si" highway. If you are arriving from or leaving for Pisa and the West on the A-11 Autostrada, it may be best to go by way of Firenze-Scandicci and use the A-1 to connect to and from the A-11.

Driving in the historic center - inside the wide "viale" where the old city walls were and still are, on the southern side of the Arno- is strictly prohibited, except for residents with permits. Enforcement is by camera, and is ferociously efficient. If you drive in the prohibited areas, you will be tracked down, and you will receive stiff fines in the mail.

Every 40 seconds, a motorist in Florence receives a traffic violation according to figures recently released by city officials. Traffic police issue approximately 90 tickets every minute, over 12,900 tickets a day.

The fines on these tickets average out to about €140 per year, per motorist, and they bring about 52 million to city hall each year, making it one of Italy's most heavily fined cities. Local officials note that the amount of money that enters the municipal budget through traffic fines has tripled in the last 10 years.

Centre-right councilors in Florence argue that the city issues much too many traffic violations. ‘A city that counts some 365,000 residents, should not be issuing traffic tickets that amount to €52 million. Milan 1,324,110 residents in comparison issues €81 million in traffic fines, but it is considerably bigger than Florence.'

Of the traffic violations that issued by traffic police in 2008, around a 54% were issued to motorists who entered the limited traffic zones ZTL without the required permit; a 29% were given to drivers who parked in no-parking zones; a 2.6% were issued for speeding; and a 0,009% were given for having run a red light.

Most fines comes from ZTL violations. There is a very strictly defined route to get in and out of the city for car rental agencies in the Via Fineguerra and the Borg'Ognissanti, just south of the Firenze SMN railroad station. If you rent there, be sure to ask at the office how to get in and out without violating the ZTL.

Parking in garages and parking lots is expensive, costing €30 per night.

There are three kinds of parking places on the street: white, yellow and blue. White is for residents only, yellow ones are reserved, so you can park only on the blue places. The price is €1 per hour and you have to pay from 8AM to 8PM 12 hours. Leave the ticket inside the car in a visible place. Attention: you need coins for the parking - the machine won't accept banknotes or cards.

You can also find 'free' parking at all hours at "Piazzale Michelangelo" on the south side of the town. However, there are time limits for how long you can leave a car, which are rigidly enforced, and if you violate those limits, your car will be towed. It's about a 20 minute walk to the city centre down the stairs and across the Arno. It has gorgeous views of the city as well.