Public transportation in Florence is widely used. City buses (orange buses, but the newer models are a deep purple and white color) are run by ATAF and LI-NEA. Ordinary (a single use 90 minute ticket) and multiple-ride tickets (four 90 minute rides on one single ticket) can be purchased from authorized sales points (bars which are coffee shops here, tobacconists, newsagents: anyone with “ATAF” stickers on their shop windows) and from the ATAF booth in Piazza Stazione.
How to use buses
There are three doors on the ATAF buses, the front and back ones are for getting on and the middle one is for getting off. After you get on, make your way to the nearby “ticket validating” machine and put your ticket in. The date and time is then printed on the ticket, starting the time validity of your ticket. You basically have 90 minutes on your ticket, so you could get on and off onto different buses and you use the same ticket.
You really SHOULD validate the ticket – don’t be tempted to not do it. Even if you are on an “honor” system, controllers are continuously getting on buses and checking tickets. We’ve seen many tourists get a fine for not having validated the ticket even if you get on and are waiting to ask the driver for information – validate your ticket, then ask the driver! An “I didn’t know” will not get you off the hook. The fine is 45 Euros if you pay it on the spot or within 5 days of getting the fine (payable at the ATAF office at the SMN train station), then it goes up. Don’t risk a a heavy fine when the cost of the ticket is small. Buy several tickets beforehand and use them as you need them. Tickets are valid for 90 minutes and cost €1,20 each. A 4-ride ticket costs € 4,70.
If you don’t have a ticket and no means to get one beforehand, you can also buy one directly from the driver for € 2,00 (no change is given so make sure to hand the exact amount). It’s more expensive but worth buying rather than risk it.
BUS MAPS: this page on the ATAF website has several maps showing the current routes of the various lines. The CITY LINE map shows the ones that cross the historical center, the C1, C2, C3 and D lines. Since the Duomo area is now pedestrian-only area, most buses either can be picked up outside the SMN train station or in Piazza San Marco.
For more information: You can call the “ProntoAtaf” hotline toll-free within Italy (800 424500) or obtain more information online at www.ataf.net. The ATAF booth, located in Piazza Stazione (on the left as you exit the station to the left) sells tickets, gives out information and provides maps of the bus routes. The small bus office in Piazza San Marco on the side opposite the church also gives out information. Try to know exactly which bus to get on before getting on, just ask the driver to let you know of a specific stop if you don’t know where to get off. Normally drivers are not the ideal source for general information on routes – they are trying to concentrate on driving and respecting the route schedule. If you’re not sure you’re on the right bus, do punch your ticket in the meantime.
Sightseeing Tours within Florence
They’ve only been in Florence for a few years, but the open top, two story sightseeing buses seen in other cities of the world offer an interesting way to view the city. The buses follow a route to take you by all of the main sights as well as passing by the more panoramic points that you might otherwise not visit if you’re going through Florence quickly (meaning limited time like a day in Florence). View details and book your tour of Florence now »