FLORENCE FAQ'S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

If you have not booked a private transfer with us then the cheapest and easiest option is the bus. The regularly scheduled city bus no. 62 connects the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, also called Peretola, with Piazza della Stazione downtown. The journey takes about 30 minutes and costs approximately 1€. A bit more expensive at 4€, but without all the local stops, is the SITA bus, departing every half hour, to and from downtown's bus station at Via Santa Caterina 15r, behind the train station.

Alternately, metered taxis line up outside the airport's arrival terminal and charge an official flat rate of 15€ to the city center.

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 don't recommend driving a car in Florence. Traffic can be hectic during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Moreover, trying to drive in the centro storico is an exercise in futility as special permits are usually required and unauthorized traffic is not allowed past signs marked 'TZL'.

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

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. The parking lot under Santa Maria Novella (2€ per hour) is closer to the city center, however the best deal is at the Parterre parking lot under Piazza Libertà, north of Fortezza del Basso. If you're staying at least one night at a hotel in Florence, you can park here, are welcome to a free bike, and on presentation of your hotel receipt as you leave or the hotel's stamp on your parking receipt, pay only 10€ per night.

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 10pm (subject to change). Rates are 3€ per piece for 12 hours and 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.

Where can I rent a bicycle or scooter in Florence?

Most of the bike rental shops in town are located just north of Piazza San Marco. Alinari, Via San Zanobi 38r (tel. 055-280-500), rents bikes for approximately 2.50€ per hour or 12€ per day and mountain bikes for 3€ per hour or 18€ per day. It also rents 50cc and 100cc scooters for about 15€ per hour or 55€ per day. Florence by Bike, Via San Zanobi 120-122r (tel. 055-488-992) is another option with the same average prices.

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.