FLORENCE FAQ`S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Florence is served by Amerigo Vespucci Airport (www.aeroporto.firenze.it), an international airport situated just 3 miles northwest from the city center. But the Galileo Galilei Airport (www.pisa-airport.com), 60 miles west of Florence, in Pisa is the largest in Tuscany and the closest international airport with direct flights to North America. Because the two airports are connected by rail and bus, Pisa is also a good gateway to Florence. Pisa Airport also serves many of Europe’s low-cost carriers including EasyJet, RyanAir, Transavia, and Thomsonfly.

If you have not booked a private transfer with us then the fastest way to get to Florence Historic Center is by bus, about a 15 minute ride. The Ataf-Sita `Vola in Bus` (Fly by bus`) service costs about €6 one way, and makes the circuit between the airport and the central train station every half hour from 5:30 am to 8 pm, then once an hour afterwards. Tickets can be purchased directly on board from the driver at no extra charge.

A taxi is a €20 flat rate (2019) from the airport to any place in the historic center of Florence. They will charge an additional €1 per extra piece of luggage.

If you are coming from the Galilei Airport you can either take the rail or bus service, both leave 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 www.trenitalia.it. Bus schedules are available at www.terravision.eu/florence_pisa.html. The train costs about €8.10, the bus costs about €6 one way, and about €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.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Florence is Tuscany`s rail hub, with connections to all the region`s major cities - Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Prato and Bologna. Most trains arrive at the Stazione Santa Maria Novella (abbreviated SMN).

Exit the station to the left and you`ll find many bus lines as well as stairs down to the pedestrian underpass leading directly to Piazza dell`Unità Italiana, which saves you from the traffic of the station`s piazza. If you prefer to take a taxi then the taxi queue is located in the front of the station in the Piazza della Stazione.

Note that some trains stop at the outlying Stazione Campo di Marte or Stazione Rifredi, both of which should be avoided if possible. Although there`s 24 hour bus service between these stations and SMN, departures aren`t always frequent and taxi service is unreliable and expensive.

Can I walk to most places in the city? Or do I need to rely on public transportation?

Florence is a wonderful city for walking. Within the historical center, no two sights are more than a 20 minute walk from each other. You can leisurely stroll between the two main sights, the Duomo and the Uffizi, in approximately 5 minutes. In fact, the best way to experience Florence is on foot, as it allows you to fully experience and enjoy the culture and daily life of Florentines.

The streets and sidewalks in Florence are mainly cobbled or flagstone and can be hard on feet and joints after a while. A sensible pair of walking shoes or sneakers is highly recommended.

Although efficient, you`ll rarely need to use Florence`s ATAF bus system because the city is so compact. And taxis aren`t cheap. Since the one-way road system forces drivers to take lengthy, out-of-the-way routes, they aren`t an economical way to get around town. Taxis are most useful to get you and your bags between the train station and your hotel in the centro storico.

I am staying in a villa outside of Florence. Where can I park my car for the day?

The closest and most convenient parking lot is located underneath the Santa Maria Novella train station. Hourly rates are approximately 2 euros and daily rates are around 18 euros. However, we recommend parking at the nearest local train station and taking the train into Florence.

I will have a car in Florence, where can I park?

We do not recommend driving a car in Florence due to the heavy traffic, the maze of one-way streets and pedestrian zones, and convenience of public transportation. Also, driving in the historic center is strictly prohibited.

Parking in garages and parking lots are expensive, costing about €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 about €1 per hour and you have to pay from 8am to 8pm (12 hours). Leave the ticket inside the car in a visible place. If you must have a car while in the city then your hotel may offer a car park (for a fee), but your best bet is one of the public garages, which are also less expensive.

If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

Warning: Don`t park your car overnight on the streets in Florence. If it`s towed it will cost you a small fortune and the headache to retrieve it will undoubtedly ruin your vacation.

Is Florence a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Italy has a very low violent crime rate. Petty crime, on the other hand, is a problem. As you may have guessed, pickpockets are quite common. In Florence you`ll find light-fingered children (especially around the train station). In order to keep yourself and your wallet safe you should always maintain your personal space. Do not let a stranger come into close personal contact with you if possible. Also watch out for any beggars with newspapers or pieces of cardboard. They use these devices to cover their operations. Lastly, do not pull out large amounts of money while shopping or using public transportation. Pickpockets generally prey on slower or distracted people. Families with children, confused tourists or older people are popular targets. Be alert, look confident and keep your valuables well hidden.

Where can I store my luggage in Florence?

The Santa Maria Novella train station has a luggage storage room near track 16, open daily from 6am to 11pm (subject to change). Rates are €6; per piece for the first 5 hours and increase each additional hour. A photo ID is required.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Italy is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Italy by clicking here.

I don`t speak Italian. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Italian dictionary and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

When are the Florentine mealtimes and when are restaurants usually open?

Florentines usually eat lunch between 12 - 2pm and dinner between 8 - 10pm. Most restaurants are open at those times, closed between meals, and rarely open throughout the day. Sundays and Mondays are the most common days for restaurant closings.

Where can I buy necessities like bottled water and toiletries?

Pharmacies carry toiletries, but they tend to be expensive. Try the small supermarkets for shampoo, soap, razors, batteries, water and snacks. Stores called `profumerie` will also stock toiletries, hair dryers, etc.

What are the best areas for shopping?

Florentines are slaves to style! Italy`s leather capital is bursting at the seams with handmade gloves, belts, bags and shoes in artisan workshops. To splurge on designer wear from Italian fashion houses, the glamorous Via Tornabuoni and Via della Vigna Nuova are best. For handmade goods, cross over the river to the Oltrarno and explore Borgo San Jacopo. On the other end of the shopping spectrum is the San Lorenzo Market where haggling is half the fun! You can find Renaissance scents from convent-turned-perfumery Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella while goldsmiths and silversmiths crowd Ponte Vecchio.

Where is the best place to purchase leather goods?

Florence`s Santa Croce neighborhood is world renowned for leather goods. Unfortunately, mass-produced jackets and purses tend to be stocked more often than locally produced items. We recommend the Scuola di Cuoio, located behind the cloister of Santa Croce basilica, for handmade bags, luggage, and apparel.

How do I get around by bike?

There is a bike rental service organized by the city. Bikes can be hired at several points in the city (and returned to the same place). One of the most convenient for tourists is located at SMN station. There are other locations at many railway stations, but often with restricted opening hours.

While there are hills north and south of the center of town, almost the entire historic center of Florence is easy for bikers, because it is as flat. But there is a problem: Traffic is terrible with buses, trucks, cars, motorcycles, motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians are fighting for almost no space. So pay attention.

Beyond the city bikes, some of the hotels in town provide their guest with free bicycles. Bike shops also often rent bikes and some of them organize guided bike tours in the countryside.

Italy Cruiser Bike Tours offers daily guided bike tours through Florence. In 3 hours you will see all the highlights of this beautiful city.

BikeCityGuide is a handy bike navigation app for those who want to discover Florence on their own. The city of Florence can be downloaded for free and contains descriptions to all important sightseeing places and gives the opportunity to make special touristic tours. Type in any address or famous point of interest to be guided to it.

Please note that illegally parked bicycles and scooters have become such a problem in Florence that authorities have begun impounding them. Make sure to park your scooter in a marked spot or your bike at a rack where it won`t interfere with pedestrian traffic.

What are the best areas for nightlife?

The city`s main squares offers plenty of tourist-oriented action at night with many bars and restaurant offerings. For something a little livelier ( with a slightly younger crowd and where the you`ll find the locals) check out Borgo San Frediano, Piazza Santo Spirito, or the northern end of Via de` Macci, close to where it meets Via Pietrapiana. Via de` Benci is usually buzzing around aperitivo time, and is popular with an expat crowd. Via de’ Renai and the bars of San Niccolò around the Porta San Miniato are often lively too, with a mixed crowd of tourists and locals.

Florence has numbers of great (mostly free) publication that provide up-to-date listings of nightlife, arts and entertainment. These can typically be found at the tourist office or are sold at newsstands around the city.

Performing Arts: The city`s public theaters are respectable, and most major touring companies stop in town on their way through Italy. Get tickets to all cultural and musical events online (www.boxofficetoscana.it) or purchase at Box Office, Via delle Carceri 1.

Many performances staged in private halls and other spaces are sponsored by the Amici della Musica (www.amicimusica.fi.it), so check their website to see what `hidden` concert might be on while you are here.

Dance Bars and Nightclubs: Many of the “in” nightclubs often change, sometimes from month to month. If you are interested in finding out what’s on the cutting edge while you are visiting, we recommend checking out Zero (www.firenze.zero.eu) and Firenze Spettacolo (www.firenzespettacolo.it).

What are the best areas for nightlife?

In general, the period between October to May is alright, but April is the most comfortable weather-wise. This is when the cold is slowly giving way to the summer heat. It gets much hotter in the next months and peaks in August, the month you want to avoid. Even the locals try to go out of town during this month to escape the heat.

If you enjoy winter, January and February may be a great choice for two reasons: lower prices, thinner crowds. Florence is always jampacked almost any time of the year, regardless of weather conditions.

Should I pre-book my visit to the museums?

Florence is a city where the Renaissance has started, where the most famous artists lived and created some of their best works. With 60 percent of the world`s most important artworks based in Italy, museums like the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell`Accademia should deserve a prime spot on your Florence itinerary.

Since both of these places are located inside historic buildings, museum officials limit the number of visitors that can be inside at a given time. That said - it gets busy.

Do yourself a favor and pre-book your tickets to these museums if you`re visiting Florence in the summer or spring time. The lines are absolutely awful and without pre-booked tickets, you`ll spend ages standing in line, instead of enjoying your visit.

Even if you start standing in line a few hours before the museum opens, you may still have to wait.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

Emergency, dial 112

Ambulance, dial 118

A walk-in Tourist Medical Service is at Via Roma 4 (www.medicalservice.firenze.it), open Monday to Friday 11am to noon, 1 to 3pm, and 5 to 6pm; Saturday 11am to noon and 1 to 3pm only.

Hospitals: The most central hospital is Santa Maria Nuova, a block northeast of the Duomo on Piazza Santa Maria Nuova ((tel) 055-69-381), with an emergency room open 24 hours.