International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987


Culture Corner

Getting Around Florence

Florence is a very compact city, so within the city center, walking is the preferred method of transportation. It's the best way to learn street names, experience the personality of each neighborhood, and soak up the local culture. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk much more than you might be used to at home! If you get lost, don't be afraid to practice your Italian.

Some students may also choose to rent a bicycle while studying in Florence as the city is also very bike friendly.

Types of Transportation

Inter city buses are quick and easy ways to travel around Tuscany and surrounding cities. Bus tickets are sold at tabacchi stores, newsstands and many coffee bars, and automatic ticket machines are positioned at the train station and at some bus stops in the center of town. The bus line is known as the ATAF. In addition, there are 2 main bus lines that connect the Florence with neighboring towns such as Siena, Pistoia, and Arezzo. Those lines are called the LAZZI and the SITA.

Ticket booths are also located in the train/bus station, Santa Maria Novella. Make sure to buy your ticket before getting on the bus, since you cannot buy tickets on board. Click here for route maps and more information on the ATAF in Italian and in English.

You cannot hail a taxi on the street in Florence. To arrange for a taxi you must call a taxi service first. When you phone for a taxi you must say 'Un taxi in via ... ' and the location from where you are calling. You will be put on hold and given the name or number of the taxi coming to meet you. Taxis arrive in a matter of minutes, so be ready to leave when you phone. There are a few taxi stands in the city located at the train station, for example, where you can stand in line and wait for a taxi. There will be a charge on the meter when the taxi arrives, as you are charged from the moment you call. There is also an extra charge in the evening after 9 p.m., but if you are a woman and alone you can ask for a discount, called 'lo sconto per le donne.' You will be charged for each piece of luggage. Taxi drivers are not tipped in Italy. You can round the amount up, for example from 4.75 euro to 5 euro, but generally no more.

New in 2010, the Florence tramway connects the main train station, Santa Maria Novella, to neighborhoods southwest of the city. It also connects the city center to the Cascine Park. The Cascine Park is the biggest public park in Florence where students and Florentines can go to enjoy picnics, go on walks or play a pick up game of soccer. It is also home to the largest open air market in Florence which is held in the Cascine every Tuesday morning, from 8am - 2pm. Tickets cost 1Euro.

Italy has an extensive and relatively inexpensive railway system. Train fares depend on the number of kilometers between the point of departure and destination. Passengers must pay a supplement (supplemento) for faster or direct trains. The ES (Eurostar within Italy), IC (Intercity within Italy) and EC (Eurocity outside Italy) require supplements. You must validate all tickets in the yellow machines located at the front of every track before boarding. Train tickets and reservations can be made at Santa Maria Novella (The travel hub in Florence) or at travel agencies. Click here for information on Italian trains, timetables, and prices or call 89 20 21 for information in English.