The rays of the setting sun shimmer over a sea of burnt-orange roofs and towering domes to reveal the breathtaking concentration of beauty in Florence (pop. 376,000). Once a busy 13th-century wool- and silk-trading town, Florence took a decidedly different path under Medici rule. By the mid-15th century, the city was the undisputed European capital of art, architecture, commerce, and political thought. Present-day Florence is a vibrant mix of young and old: Street graffiti quotes Marx and Malcolm X, businessmen whiz by on Vespas, and children play soccer in front of the duomo.
Flights: Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR; 055 31 58 74), in Peretola. The ATAF bus connects the train station to the airport (‚1).
Trains: Santa Maria Novella Station, across from S. Maria Novella. Trains depart every hr. for Bologna (lhr. ‚7.80), Milan (32hr. ‚22), and Rome (3V4hr. ‚15-22); and less frequently to Siena (lVhr. 10 per day, ‚5.30) and Venice (3hr. 4 per day, ‚19).
Buses: SITA, V.S. Caterina da Siena 15r ( 055 28 46 61). Run to San Gimignano (l’2hr. 14 per day, ‚5.70) and Siena (lVihr. 2 per day, ‚6.50). LAZZI, P. Adua, l-4r (055 35 10 61) sends buses to Pisa (every hr. ‚5.80).
Public Transportation: ATAF (055 565 02 22), outside the train station, runs orange city buses (6am-lam). lhr. tickets ‚1, 3hr. ‚1.80, 24hr. ‚4, 3-day ‚7.20. Buy tickets at any newsstand, tabacchi, or automated ticket dispenser before boarding. Validate your ticket using the orange machine on board or risk a ‚50 fine.
Taxis: 055 43 90, 055 47 98, or 055 42 42. Outside the train station.
BikeMoped Rental: Alinari Noleggi, V. Guelfa 85r (055 28 05 00). Bikes ‚12-18 per day, mopeds ‚28-55 per day.
ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION
From the train station, a short walk on V. dei Panzani and a left on V. dei Cerretani leads to the duomo, the center of Florence. Major arteries radiate from the duomo and its two piazze. A bustling walkway, Via dei Calzaiuoli runs south from the duomo to Piazza Signorla. V. Roma leads from P.S. Giovanni through Piazza della Repubblica to the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), which spans the Amo River to the Oltrarno district. Note that most streets change names unpredictably. For guidance through Florence’s tangled center, grab a free map from the tourist office. Sights are scattered throughout Florence, but few lie beyond walking distance.
AND YOU THOUGHT VENICE WAS CONFUSING. Florence is com-prised of streets numbered in red and black sequences. Red numbers indicate commercial establishments and black numbers denote residential addresses (including most sights and hotels). Black addresses appear in Let’s Go as a numeral only, while red addresses are indicated by a number followed by an r.
If you reach an address and it’s not what you’re looking for, you’ve probably got the wrong color sequence. Also making life more complicated, numbers on opposite sides of the street do not necessarily match up.
TOURIST, FINANCIAL, AND LOCAL SERVICES
Tourist Office: Informazione Turistica, P. della Stazione 4 (055 21 22 45), across the piazza from the main exit. Info on entertainment and cultural events. Be sure to ask for a free map with a street index. Open daily 8:30am-7pm.
Consulates: UK, Lungarno Corsini 2 (055 28 41 33). Open M-F 9:30am-12:30pm and 2:30-4:30pm. US, Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 38 (055 239 82 76), at V. Palestra, near the station. Open M-F 9am-12:30pm. Others are in Rome or Milan.
Currency Exchange: Local banks offer the best rates. Most are open M-F 8:20am-1:20pm and 2:45-3:45pm. 24hr. ATMs abound.
American Express: V. Dante Alighieri 20-22r (055 509 81). From the duomo, walk down V. dei Calzaiuoli and turn left on V. dei Tavolini. Mail held free for AmEx customers, otherwise ‚1.55. Open M-F 9am-5:30pm, Sa 9am-12:30pm.
EMERGENCY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Emergency: 113. Fire: s 115. Police: 055 497 71. Medical Emergency: 118
24-Hour pharmacies: Farmacia Comunale (055 28 94 35), at the train station by track #16. Molteni, V. dei Calzaiuoli 7r (055 28 94 90).
Internet Access: Walk down almost any busy street and you’ll find an Internet cafe.
Internet Train. 15 locations listed on www.internettrain.it, including near the train station and duomo. ‚4 per hr. students ‚3. Most open M-F 9am-midnight, Sa 10am-8pm, Su noon-9pm.
Libreria Edison, P. Repubblica 27r, has great atmosphere and coffee upstairs. ‚2.50 per hr. Open daily 10am-8pm
Post Office: V. Pellicceria (055 21 61 22), off P. della Repubblica. Address mail to be held: Firstname SURNAME, In Fermo Posta, L’Ufficio Postale, V. Pellicceria, Firenze, 50100 ITALY. Open M-F 8am-7pm, Sa 8:15am-noon.