As someone who heavily relied on driving to get around in the United States, I was not prepared for the differences Italy would bring. I was not prepared for the walking.
For the first month or so, I walked to every class, averaging around 6 miles a day. Although it was great for exercise, I can be a bit lazy. (However, since arrival, I’ve walked almost 400 miles, and I still have a month left!) I am writing this so you too can understand the public transportation system.
I will start you off with a quick explanation of all methods:
The Bus: The buses are run by a company called ATAF (Autolinee Toscane) which has around 100 routes going around Florence. Don’t be intimidated by this number, it is very easy once you get the hang of it. Or if you do not want to learn the routes, simply open your Maps app or Moovit, enter your destination, and click the transit button to see the best routes and times.
The Tram: The trams are run by GEST (Gestione Servizio tramviario) and don’t worry, there are only two lines. The T1 goes to Careggi-Ospedale (North) and Villa Costanza (South), and the T2 goes to Unità (City Center) and Peretola Airport (West). You don’t really need to worry about arriving at a certain time as the tram runs frequently.
The Train: The trains are not used to get around Florence, but you will need to know about them for travel elsewhere. There are two main types of trains: regional and high-velocity. The regional trains go much slower, but you can reach practically anywhere in Tuscany using them. The high-velocity trains are more expensive and have few stops within the region, but you can get to Milan or Rome in under two hours.
The Taxi: Taxis in Florence cannot be waved down as they can in the United States. To find a taxi, head to popular tourist sites and you will likely find a row of taxis waiting. Always walk to the first in the line. This is the most expensive method of transportation but it can be useful when you’re in a hurry. You can also call a taxi, but they will charge extra for the drive to your location.
Now, how much will it cost?
Tickets are €1.50 for 90 minutes and you can use both the buses and the tram! You can buy tickets at tabbachi shops or at tram stops. Once you enter the bus or tram, validate your ticket and you’re set!
Train tickets can vary greatly, regional are typically under €20 and high-velocity are under €50. You can purchase train tickets through many websites, but directly booking through Trenitalia or Italo is usually the best bet, and there is no need to validate them! Just have them easily accessible as someone will come to scan your ticket.
Taxis have varying costs, but if you are traveling less than 3 miles by taxi, expect it to be under €20 each way.
Even though I have just given you all of this information, I urge you to walk more than you take public transportation. When you walk, you can admire the beauty of Florence, and you are immersed in the sights and sounds of this lovely city. Your time abroad is limited, so enjoy every second you can!
Lauren is a Fall 2021 Florence student from the University of South Carolina.