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With its circa 380.000 inhabitants, Florence is a relatively small city. Most of the activities that constitute the Florentine lifestyle take place in the city's historical center. SACI's two Renaissance buildings are located in this area, and the student housing solutions offered by SACI are also either within the center itself or on its immediate outskirts. Florence transportation services are perfectly functional, and we invite you to click on one of the following titles to read more about the various ways you can travel around the city.
Since Florence’s center is dense and closely packed with fascinating things, you can easily get around on foot. In fact, you’ll probably want to, since it’s the best way to meet people and see the culture face-to-face. Also, a large portion of the center has now been made into a zona pedonale - a pedestrian area - where no vehicles are admitted. A good map is a useful idea at first. SACI provides students with one in the orientation packet. You may also want to pop into a bookstore to purchase a larger one. Useful tip – the best maps have a street index.
The one thing to remember about walking in Florence is to look for the pedestrian crosswalks (striped white lines on the pavement). Always watch out for traffic – the Italian style of driving can be quite different from that in the States and many other countries.
Florence’s bus system spreads a huge network over the city, and buses run frequently. You can get to or near any location simply by using the bus. Especially useful are the small buses A, B, C, and D, which never leave the historical center of town, so you can use them to get just about anywhere you need, and you will never be carried too far from home! Bus stops are marked by large orange signs (FERMATA) indicating which buses stop there. Some lines run only during the day, but night buses (indicated on the signs in black) often take over their routes.
Bus schedules are available at the ATAF office in Piazza Stazione. This new customer service headquarters is at the front of the train station (clock side) and open from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm, Monday to Saturday (closed Sundays and holidays).
To take the bus, you should buy a ticket and validate it in one of the orange boxes on the bus when you first get on. Please do remember to buy and stamp your ticket! If one of the ATAF inspectors catches you riding the bus without one, you’ll be required to pay a large fine. For complete information (even in English!) on routes, strikes, etc, use the web site: www.ataf.net
You can buy bus tickets at most bars, magazine stands, or shops with an orange ATAF sticker. There is also an ATAF ticket booth at the train station that sells all types of tickets. Standard tickets are valid for 90 minutes. Once stamped, these tickets give you 90 minutes to use as much of the bus system as you wish. You can also buy four-trip tickets, or tickets good for 24 hours, three days, or other time periods. These tickets are all available at the ATAF booth at the train station.
As of March 2011, ATAF offers a new service that enables you to purchase a bus ticket by simply sending an SMS from your cell phone. Send the word "ATAF" by SMS to 339 9941264 and you will receive a response with a receipt number to show the ticket inspector. All you have to do is register once at www.bemoov.it or call 800 424500 (from landlines) or 199 104245 (from cell phones). You will be asked to provide your credit card information (Visa or Mastercard). The ticket is valid on all ATAF buses for 90 minutes for 1.20 euros (plus the cost of the SMS).
It is very convenient to purchase a bus pass. If you want to obtain a pass that will enable you to ride buses at less expense throughout your stay in Florence, bring your SACI I.D., passport, and one passport-size photo of yourself to the ATAF bus company’s main location at Piazza Stazione (Piazza Adua side, tel. 055 5650642), which is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am-7:30 pm and Saturday from 7:30 am-1:30 pm. You will be asked to fill in a form with the exact numbers of the buses you’ll need to ride to reach SACI from your apartment. You’ll only be allowed to use this card on those bus lines.
Since each bus has its own schedule, you can go to the ATAF booth on the northern side of the train station and pick up printed schedules for your particular bus number. Schedules are free; you should also get holiday listings. Or use the timetables search at: www.ataf.net
Work on the first of three Florence tram lines has recently been completed. You can now catch Sirio, Florence’s tram, just outside Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station, and travel to the Cascine Park and to other stops along the Arno as far as the Florence suburb of Scandicci. The tram leaves Santa Maria Novella station every 8 minutes. The costs and tickets are the same as for Florence buses. Useful tip: tickets can be bought from automatized ticket booths which can be found at each Tram stop (the display language can also be set to English). As when riding the bus, don’t forget to stamp your ticket once you’re on board the tram. For more information about Florence’s tram, see:
In Italy, Taxis are quite expensive. Going in groups is one way to cut the cost, but do also consider that night time rates include an extra fee.
Keep in mind that in Italy you can’t just flag down a cab as you may be used to; you must call for one via phone or go to a taxi stand (in front of the train station, in Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza San Marco, behind the Duomo, etc.). Give the address where you need to be picked up and wait for the operator to give the name of the taxi which is coming to pick you up (e.g., “Parigi 23”). The operator will also tell you how long before the taxi arrives, which usually is within three to five minutes. (Remember, in Italy you don’t have to tip the driver.) Women travelling alone in a taxi are entitled to a 10% discount between the hours of 9pm to 2am. There is also a discount of 15% for hospital destinations between the hours of 1pm-3pm and 7-9pm. Be sure that these discounts are applied when appropriate.