Getting Around Florence
The best way to get around Florence is by foot. In fact, you can walk from one end of the city to the other in about 30 minutes, passing many recognizable sites along the way. Hopping aboard an ATAF bus is another option. To get into the city, many travelers fly into Galileo Galilei Airport (PSA) in Pisa, making a pit stop at its Leaning Tower before taking the train to the main station, Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella. You can also fly into the small Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR) in Florence and take a bus or taxi to the city center. Renting a car is not recommended because skinny, one-way streets make driving a nightmare and many areas are relegated pedestrians or authorized traffic only.
Florence was practically made for walking – except, perhaps, for women fond of heels. The ancient city's cobbled walks will de-heel pumps faster than you can say arrivederci. We recommend wearing a comfortable pair of walking shoes and exploring this intimate city's slender streets – and all of the Renaissance architecture, quaint shoe shops and tasty Tuscan restaurants along the way. The streets are easy to navigate, but if you want a little guidance sign up for a walking tour.
If your feet get weary from walking, you can hop aboard one of the city's efficient ATAF buses – but remember to validate your ticket once you get on. One-way tickets cost about 1.50 euros ($1.70) and are available at local Italian convenience stores.
Cars and Florence really don't mix. For one, much of the city center is off-limits to tourist drivers – those areas marked with "ZTL" ("Zona a Traffico Limitato" or Limited Traffic Zone) are for authorized traffic only. Two, the city is composed of numerous pedestrian areas and narrow, one-way streets, which make driving an absolute headache. To top it all off, you need a special ZTL permit to do any driving. If you must drive, you should park your car on the city outskirts in one of the parking compounds. And then depending on the lot's distance from the city, you can either walk or take a taxi in.
To drive in Italy, U.S. citizens must acquire an international driving permit before departing for their trip. Visit AAA's website for more information.
Taxis are expensive here: The meter starts at about 3 euros ($3.40) on weekdays and Saturdays, and is even higher on Sundays as well as between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. If you're on a budget, you should use taxis sparingly. In fact, many travelers rely on them only for transportation to and from the Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella (Florence Train Station). You should also note that hailing taxis is illegal here – call ahead or head to an official taxi rank (line) found at most major squares.
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