Florence is a small city so it’s easy to get around on foot. Most of the important sights are within a 15-minute walk of each other, and many of the hotels and restaurants also lie within an easily-negotiated radius of the very central Piazza della Repubblica. However, there will be times when tired feet and aching legs refuse to carry you any further; luckily the bus system is efficient and taxis are plentiful. There’s even a brand new tram line should you want to get to the nether reaches of Scandicci.
Getting around by bus
The bus network is run by ATAF (www.ataf.net) and covers the whole city. Most daytime routes run every 10-20 minutes between about 5.30am and 9pm; a few night services run until 12.30am. There is a fleet of cute, ecological little bussini plying the centro storico that are particularly useful for tourists; these are numbered C1, C2, C3 and D. Other useful tourist routes are the 7 (for Fiesole) and the 11 and 12 (for Piazzale Michelangelo). For all other routes, either pick up one of the very clear and useful ATAF bus maps from one of the tourist offices, or have a look at the very un-clear maps on the ATAF website.
You can buy bus tickets at any tobacconists (look out for a big ‘T’ sign), the ATAF office at Piazza della Stazione and at news-stands. A single ticket costs 1.20 euro and is valid for 90 minutes, regardless of the number of buses you take within that time. You have to stamp your ticket (convalidare) in the machine when you board the first bus. You can also buy a single ticket on board for two euros. A 24-hour ticket costs five euros (stamp it at the beginning or your first journey), 3 days costs 12 euros and a week costs 18 euros.
If you travel without a valid ticket and get caught by an inspector, you will be fined anything from 40 euros (if you pay on the spot) to 240 euros.
Licensed taxis in Florence are white with yellow graphics, and each is given a code name that consist of a place plus a number, eg Milano 33. Although you may get lucky, you cannot normally flag taxis down on the street; you either have to telephone for them (expect them to arrive within 2-6 minutes) or find a taxi rank. The most central ranks are at Santa Maria Novella station, Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza Santa Trinità, Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Santa Croce.
Taxis in Florence are not cheap, especially between midnight and 6am and on Sundays and holidays. Taxis all have metres and a surcharge of one euro per piece is made for baggage. You are not expected to leave a huge tip; just round the fare up to the nearest euro or so. Taxi numbers: 055 4798, 055 4242, 055 4390.
After much controversy and infinite delays, the first phase of Florence’s tranvia was inaugurated in late 2009. Run by ATAF and with the same ticketing system, the T1 line runs from Santa Maria Novella station to the western suburb of Scandicci, a route that will be of little use to most visitors, but it’s good to know that Florence’s public transport system is finally moving towards the 21st century.