Suggested daytrip from Rome: Firenze/Florence
As unbelievable as it may sound, throughout our time blogging here at From Home to Rome, we have never focused on how to get to Florence from the Eternal City.
It’s easy to explain why: the overwhelming majority of our clients already devote some of their vacation days for a visit to the “Cradle of Renaissance”, as it’s lovingly nicknamed. Even more than that, they reach Rome after already having been in Florence, following a foolproof route through Italy that starts in the north of the country and ends south. So why bother writing about something they already know?
Why going to Florence is an excellent idea right now
Because Florence right now is magical, that’s why! If you think that masses of tourists are overwhelming in Rome, believe us when we say that the same amount of people feels so much worse in the capital of Tuscany (surely because Florence is so much smaller than Rome).
And with just a tiny fraction of international tourists being allowed into Europe and Italy at the moment, this is the best time, probably in modern history, to make the most of shorter queues, reduced wait times and virtually no shoulder-to-shoulder visiting experiences.
Option 1: How to get to Florence by train
Of course Florence is best reached by high-speed train. Both Trenitalia (through its Frecciarossa service) and Italo operate several fast trains per day, which depart from Roma Termini, call at Roma Tiburtina and generally stop at Firenze Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s major train station and the one closer to the city center.
Important note #1: All train stops in Italy are indicated in Italian inside stations, on boards etc., so for the sake of you getting acquainted with them we are going to use the Italian spelling.
Important note #2: Be aware that some trains may not be stopping in Firenze Santa Maria Novella but rather at Firenze Campo di Marte, which is closer to the Artemio Franchi football stadium. Worry not, because if you happen to get off there by mistake, it’s really easy to reach Santa Maria Novella with a connection using a city train stopping at both stations.
The average travel time by high-speed train is 1 hour and a half, with prices around 50 EUR each way for those who book their tickets last minute. Traveling on a high-speed train for less is certainly possible, but it requires buying tickets in advance and directly from Italo or Trenitalia, not a third-party reseller that will charge you a fee for the transaction.
If you’re traveling on a budget, you can save on transportation costs by purchasing a ticket valid for slower trains: Intercity trains or even Regionale (“regional”) trains do cover the same route even though are not as frequent as high-speed trains.
Once in Firenze Santa Maria Novella, getting to the actual center of Florence is a matter of minutes and really simple: it’s enough to look at the skyline around you and follow it to be at the Battistero, Gallerie dell’Accademia or the Uffizi. And if you need a hint: walk south towards the river and then east from there. Or follow other tourists (yes: in spite of the Coronavirus crisis, Florence is not a ghost town and visitors are indeed coming in daily!).
Of course if you don’t feel like walking, there are a number of buses that connect the train station with the landmarks area.
Option 2: How to get to Florence by car
If you have rented a car for your Italian trip and you’d like to make the most of it to get to Florence from Rome, it is certainly possible to do so, even though we would like to recommend against it.
While the road to Florence is beautiful and scenic, both Rome and Florence have ZTL systems in effect, with unmanned cameras taking pictures of you car plate – fines are unavoidable if you’re not a resident and are not familiar with how ZTL areas work.
For those who are not used to Italy’s road signage or rules (speed limits, the Tutor system on the country’s highway network, color coded parking and more) going to Florence can turn into a difficult experience. Even Italians give up their beloved vehicles when it comes to Florence, and have embraced fully the high-speed train option.
Obviously, if you’re set on driving to Florence, there is nothing we can say that will change your mind!
In that case, we urge you to learn about Italy’s driving rules. You can then decide if you’d like to go to Florence via the A1 highway (faster, but has tolls) or by a more scenic option, state road no. 2, the Via Cassia. Travel time on the highway is about 3 hours, while it can be up to 6 hours if driving along the Via Cassia. There are more options, too, if deciding to drive along the coast on the Via Aurelia, state road no. 1, but the total time will be about the same.
Once in Florence, it is crucial to find a parking spot outside of the ZTL/residents only area – there are a several garages operating at reasonable prices scattered just outside the off-limits area.
Option 3: How to get to Florence by bus
Several bus companies operate a daily service to Florence. Among them, Flixbus is the most well-known option. This is a perfect compromise for those who don’t care about getting to Florence fast and are interested in a budget-friendly solution. Buying bus tickets online ahead of time will save you dozens of Euros, with one-way trips at less than 10 Euros. Of course if you buy last minute you can expect to pay over 30 Euros for the same journey.
Buses leave from Rome at the bus central station outside the train/subway stop at Roma Tiburtina. The bus hub is called “Tibus” and is very easy to spot and access. The bus will usually end its route in Florence in Villa Costanza, where a tram ride on line T1 will take you to the city center, or in Piazzale Montelungo, on one side of the Firenze Maria Novella train terminal – much more convenient than the former stop! Travel time from Rome to Florence is about 3 hours 20.
Option 4: How to get to Florence by private transfer
If the prospect of driving yourself to Florence, or falling victim to the dreaded ZTL fines, is making you nervous, you can still go by car by opting into a private transfer service to and from Tuscany. You save the tolls, the fuel and other unexpected costs and ditch the stress to pay a driver to get you there and take you back right at your accommodation, setting up departure times and possible in-between stops (say you want to see small towns on the way like Montalcino, Monteriggioni, Volterra…).
At From Home to Rome, we have been working on this kind of solution for years with Gianni Conti Car Service – the very same company we offer for your transfers to and from the airports in Rome. If this is something that you might be interested in, get in touch today for our best quote and for possible customizations for your Florence daytrip!