If you plan to spend some time in Tuscany your first inclination might be to rent a car for the week, or if you’re traveling from another European country perhaps even driving your own car across borders.
Here are the reasons why this is a terrible, very bad, not good idea.
Every corner of the historic center of Florence is overflowing with ancient beauty and stories to be told wouldn’t it be a shame to miss something because you were too focused on the GPS?
In order to protect the hundreds of historical monuments & works of art scattered freely about the city, the city of Florence has strict laws on which cars can and cannot enter the city center due to pollution and traffic control.
Nonresidents find it extremely difficult to understand where they are and are not allowed to drive their rental cars which often results in fines.
The city of Florence has installed strategically placed cameras which issue fines to any drivers that enter the restricted areas, and yes, they will be mailed to your address in your home country.
The traffic signals and signs of Florence while straight forward, may be difficult for nonresidents to get a firm grasp on while only staying for a short visit.
The streets of Tuscany are inconceivably narrow, with twists and turns and full of pedestrians, yet most of the locals whip around the corners faster than you can say “Ciao Bella”.
Some streets close at a moments notice to make way for restoration, construction, or one of the many running marathons that take place around the city which can be a serious headache if you are unfamiliar with the back-roads.
Italians are known for their…let’s call it charismatic style of driving, so navigating the tight turns of an unfamiliar city can be quite dangerous even for the most skilled foreign drivers and during the high season, tourists in rental cars are the number one cause of accidents across the city.
Don’t let a wreck or a traffic fine put a damper on your vacation, and consider taking another route for a much safer and much more cost-effective alternative during your stay.
Guided tours are by far your best & safest option. Traveling with an experienced, licensed local driver will guarantee you and your loved ones safety as well as a memorable and enjoyable vacation.
Our drivers know every inch of the city like the backs of their own hands, and when the unexpected restoration project has shut down the major boulevards, we’ll still get you where you want to go.
Our driver guides are experienced and professional and will tell you interesting bits of history along the way that you’d pass by without even noticing had you been driving there on your own.
Instead of paying attention to the chaotic road in front of you, you’ll actually be present during your vacation and relaxed by the time you reach your destination.
Once you’ve gotten a lay of the land from one of our experienced guides, we recommend bike rental as a fun alternative to driving around the city.
Florence is very cycle & pedestrian friendly, with plenty of bike paths that run the length of the Arno river as well as all of the major roads.
There is a relatively cheap bike sharing service set up at the Santa Maria Novella train station and is definitely worth looking into, don’t worry you can’t miss the sea of same colored bikes lined up outside.
Bike shops and rental prices vary tremendously so ask your hotel for the best place to look in your area.
If you must leave your bike outside we highly recommend you request a sturdy lock or pay the extra fee for bike insurance if it is offered. Bike thieves are real but can be easily deterred if you’re smart about it.
Lastly, be respectful of where you park your bike, make sure its not blocking a store entry, crosswalk, etc., the locals tend to get their feathers ruffled if you’re in their way so don’t be that tourist.
If all that footwork just isn’t your thing, public transportation is very well connected within the city of Florence. Your hotel or apartment supervisor will be able to tell you the best information about your closest bus stops but here are just a few general points.
- Bus tickets cost around 1-2 euro and can be purchased at most tabacchi (tobacco shops, with a T sign outside of the door) or occasionally even directly from the bus driver.
- The main bus line ATAF has an easy to use website & even an app that allows you to plan your route directly from your mobile device.
- If you’re staying outside of the center taking a bus is definitely the way to go. Frequent stops dot the city in front of, or near every possible tourist attraction.
- Pay attention to the signs at your bus stop, if a printed sign with dates on it has been added somewhere in plain view, the bus line could be delayed, or not active during the dates or times posted. This info is always visible at the stop and on the bus website & if you’re unsure ask a friendly local for help.
- Gypsies are known to frequent buses so hold onto your belongings and pay close attention to surroundings.
Most Europeans will be familiar with car sharing, but the idea may be lost on our American friends.
These easy to use apps allow you to choose a car near you, book it & unlock it all directly from your mobile device.
The best part? You only pay for the minutes you operate it.
While this may sound like a dream come true, be weary of using these services, while they often have access to most areas of the city, some are still restricted from certain areas of the center.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the companies terms & conditions before your excursion or else you risk to receive a traffic fine.
There is so much to see & do in Florence that we truly recommend beginning your stay with one of our luxury guided tours before striking out on your own & using one of these services.
Let us show you the ropes before you miss out on something wonderful!