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Getting around Florence

Public transport

The best way to get around Florence is on foot as the city centre is so compact. However, there is a comprehensive bus network run by Azienda Trasporti Area Fiorentina (ATAF) (tel: +39 199 104 245; www.ataf.net) from 0600-2325. Tickets, available at newsagents, most coffee bars and automatic ticket dispensers, are valid for 90 minutes, allowing the holder to change buses or make a return journey within the hour. 24-hour and up to seven-day passes are also available.

Taxis

Taxis can be hailed on the streets, although they rarely stop. It is better for tourists to head for local taxi ranks (located outside the train station and at most tourist destinations) or telephone for one in advance. Taxis are operated by Taxi Firenze (tel: +39 55 4242). There are additional supplements charged for luggage, calling a taxi, night time travel and travelling on a Sunday.

Driving

Due to its small size and severe traffic restrictions in the historical centre, there is little point in driving to Florence. However, visitors staying in luxury hotels are allowed to drive into the city centre but only for the purposes of parking.

Sightseers determined to drive can try and find a parking space at the underground car park at Santa Maria Novella, or park at Parterre, near the Piazza della Calza. Alternatively, there may be room at Oltrana near Porta Romana.

Car hire

Several major car hire companies have offices in the city, including Avis, (tel: +39 55 213 629; www.avisautonoleggio.it), Hertz (tel: +39 55 239 8205; www.hertz.it), and Italy by Car (tel: +39 334 648 19 20; www.italybycar.it).

In order to hire a car, drivers must be at least 21 years old, depending on company policy. All drivers without an EU licence must carry an International Driving Permit.
 

Bicycle hire

To blend in with the cruising Romeos, visitors can hire a scooter or moped from Alinari, (tel: +39 55 280 500; www.alinarirental.com). The minimum age for renting a scooter or motorbike is 18 years.

There is also a bicycle-sharing scheme (www.bicifirenze.it) run by the local council. Bikes can be hired at various points in the city centre, including Santa Maria Novella train station. Hire times range from one hour or a full day to a whole month.
 

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24 hours in: Florence

As the birthplace of the Renaissance period, opera and even gelato, Florence has enough cultural heritage to fill a whole lifetime.

Featured Hotels

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Villa Cora

The home of Baron Oppenheim, this incredibly ornate villa has been the smartest address in town for 150 years. Now a luxury hotel, with the only open-air swimming pool in Florence to stay open all year round, guests can choose from rooms adorned with roses, antiques or a 1940s-themed suite.

Hotel Brunelleschi

Imaginatively reinvented from a Byzantine tower and a medieval church, this 4-star-hotel combines swish modernity in a romantic setting, right in the heart of Florence. Located just off Piazza Signoria, its architectural characteristics of exposed brickwork and wooden beams are retained throughout, giving a pleasing sense of history.

Palazzo Magnani Feroni

On another level of luxury, this fantastical palace harbours 12 theatrical suites on four floors, filled with antiques and lavish furnishings, mammoth mirrors and frescoed rooms. A stay is like being immersed in the world of Florentine royalty. The city views from the rooftop over are incredible. Look out for offers that make it affordable.

Ville Sull’Arno

On the banks of the river Arno, this spa hotel is the perfect retreat from the bustle of the city. Highly affordable for a 5-star, many of the large rooms here come with river views and each has elegant furnishings. It also has indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna and steam room as well as a top-notch restaurant serving Tuscan treats.

Gallery Hotel Art

This chic art hotel stands on a small square not far from the Ponte Vecchio and attracts a host of funky young designers and artists. Cool modern interiors are a world away from the medieval rat race outside. Communal spaces display rotating collections of contemporary art and the guest library contains over 400 books.

Hotel Alessandra

Set in 16th-century building on the River Arno, this charming hotel on a quiet back street is within a 10-minute walk of top sights such as the Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo. The rooms feature antique furniture, Wi-Fi access and air-conditioning, and most have private bathrooms; some have river views. Breakfast is included.