Bus stop at Porta Romana. Not called Porta Romana, of course. That would be too logical and easy.
Your own two feet are by far the best means of transportation when in Florence. The historic centre is a manageable size to walk for most people.
But for those of us who don’t always have great walking feet, or want to go a bit further outside the city, the buses are a blessing. Or at least, they are there. Well, sometimes.
Should you decide to go by bus, there are a few things that are useful to know.
~ Tickets are sold at tobacconists and at ATAF service point at the back side (where the tram station is) of Santa Maria Novella train station. At ATAF you can buy multiple day tickets (for info see ATAF website), but you need cash since they don’t accept cards.
~ For many sights of interest there simply is no bus stop, so you’ll have to walk anyway.
Traffic at Porta San Frediano.
~ Only buses with letters instead of numbers run in the narrow streets of the oldest city centre. Their routes are a mystery. They are small and orange and are called C1, C2, C3 and D. No idea what happened to A and B.
~ Don’t expect the bus to go back the same way it came. Most streets are one-way and the route is unpredictable.
~ Bus stops can temporarily change location without any notice or information, not even on the ATAF website.
~ Florentines walk around the city centre and usually don’t have a clue about bus stops and routes, so not much point asking them for help.
~ Around Santa Maria Novella train station (“Stazione”) there are countless bus stops, all with different names in order to get visitors completely confused.
~ You need strong arms to go by bus. The seats (if you are lucky enough to get one) are plastic and quite slippery. You will slide off and end up on the floor or in someone else’s lap if you don’t hold on tight in the curves. I strongly suspect many of the drivers would rather work at a funfair.
~ Don’t count on catching a bus in the morning if you need to go to the Stazione. They are usually overfilled with suburbans on their way to work and will simply drive by and you will end up missing your train. Walk or take a taxi if the walk is too far.
~ The ATAF website is bilingual Italian/English but you are lucky if you manage to get some useful info out of it. I find one needs to know a lot of local geography to understand how to make a correct search. I usually fail.
If this have slightly put you off going by bus in Florence – go anyway!
It’s part of the adventure!
And whatever you do, don’t miss taking the number 7 from Piazza San Marco to Fiesole!
Trams at Scandicci end station.
PS If your feet are really tired and you’re still hungry to see more, why not take the new tram line to Scandicci and see something equally genuine Florentine as Piazza Duomo but far away from the tourist crowds?