Conversations on Studying Abroad

How To Use the Bus System in Florence, Italy

Jan 27, 2023 2:00:00 PM / by Lynn Dang

Lynn Dang shares a 3-step guide on how to navigate and use the bus and public transportation system in Florence. This is a handy primer before studying abroad and visiting the Italian city!

Ciao from Firenze! Now that I have been living in Florence as a study abroad student for a while, I have really settled into a balance of classes and life. One aspect of living in Florence that intimidated me at first was navigating the public transportation system. Transportation and travel within Florence can include buses, bikes, walking, taking a taxi, and using the tram! I walk 99% of the time, but I enjoy the ease of using the buses. Since many study abroad students are learning how to navigate public transportation for the first time, here is a rundown of how to use the bus system in Florence.

  1. Where do I buy tickets?

The city bus services are managed by Autolinee Toscane. Tickets are sold at authorized stores including tobacco (“tabacchi”) shops, bars that show the Autolinee Toscane logo, some newsagents that show the logo, and the bus itself. However, our study abroad program gives us students a free bus pass that is good for 10 bus tickets! Stop by the front desk at the CAPA Florence Center to pick up the tickets that have already been purchased for you.

A train and bus station in Florence, Italy

One of the bus stations that students often use to get to the Florence airport is located in front of the train station, Santa Maria Novella. The S.M.N. train station hosts regional trains that travel to different cities in Italy.
A tabacchi shop in Florence, Italy

Tabacchi shops are clearly labeled throughout Italian cities. Most are likely to carry bus tickets for sale.

It is recommended that we buy tickets before boarding the bus. Tickets may not always be available to buy on site, and there is likely a higher cost of purchasing on board.

  1. What do I do with my ticket?

When you board the bus, make sure to validate your ticket using the yellow machines on the bus. Being caught without a ticket (specifically a validated ticket) results in a fine and being removed from the bus. The ticket is good for 90 minutes after validation, and you can also use other buses within that time period.

A public bus in Florence, Italy

The buses in Florence are white and blue with the symbol of Florence on the side of it.
  1. Where can I go?

There are so many options to choose from in Florence! In my personal experience, most students use their bus passes for visiting museums or getting to the airport. Florence, being the birthplace of the Renaissance, has plenty of fascinating and culturally rich museums to choose from.

As part of my Renaissance Art History course, the class boarded a bus together to travel to a church named San Miniato al Monte. This church rests on top of a hill, the Piazza Michelangelo. A leisurely walk up the hill could have taken an hour or more. Since we were a big group with our backpacks, we used one of our free bus passes (provided by CAPA) to get as close as possible to the church, and then walked part of the path up there.

A female student standing on the steps at San Miniato al Monte

I visited San Miniato al Monte with my Renaissance history course using the bus passes. Our class of about 15 people walked to a bus stop together and traveled on the same bus to get to the site.

I have not attempted to use the bus pass to get to the airport yet, but it is one of the easiest and cheapest methods of accessing the airport. The bus stop to get to the airport is about a 20-minute walk from my apartment, right next to a train station called Santa Maria Novella. After arriving at the bus stop, a bus usually comes within 20 minutes, if not less. I am going to use the bus to get to the airport soon, and I plan to simply put the airport address in Apple Maps to view the public transport times.

The buses stop throughout Florence, so you can plan to use them to reach a certain destination or simply board one and see where it leads! There is bound to be at least one famous or interesting landmark along a bus route—it is Florence, after all!

Thanks, Lynn!

Lynn Dang

Lynn Dang is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2022, sharing
her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Finance major from University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester. All views expressed are her own and may or may not reflect the experiences of other students.

Lynn's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: Florence, Italy, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations, Local Culture