Arrival in Florence
It is highly recommended that you arrange a flight that arrives directly into Florence. This will reduce the fatigue of your journey and will also avoid extra travel and hotel expense when you depart. If you can’t find a flight directly to Florence, check for a ticket to Pisa or Bologna as they are both quite convenient and train ride to Florence is only about 1 hour.
Arrival at the Florence Airport & Getting to the school
When you arrive in Florence you will either arrive at the airport or the Santa Maria Novella train station. In either case, you will take a taxi (conveniently waiting outside the door) to the school to pick up the keys to your apartment. The cost for the taxi ride should be from €12-25. The taxi ride from the airport is a fixed €22 price plus €1 for each bag. Ask the taxi driver to go to: Via San Gallo 53/red (red numbers) Phone: 055-462-7374. After checking in and getting your keys, a staff member will accompany you to your apartment.
IMPORTANT!! Check-in Times: The office at SRISA is open from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. If you arrive over the weekend or after business hours you must make your own arrangements to stay in a hotel. It is extremely important that you notify us of your flight number, arrival time, and date. If you do not have the information when you apply please notify us as soon as possible by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Before booking your ticket, remember to consult your housing information for specific check-in and check-out times.
Hotels in Florence
- Florence has many hotels but here is a short list of hotels close to the school for those arriving early or after school hours.
- Hotel Benvenuti** – www.benvenutihotel.it Tel: 055-572141
- Piccolo Hotel** – www.piccolo.hotelinfirenze.com Tel: 055-475519
- Tourist House Liberty B&B – www.touristhouseliberty.it Tel: 055-471759
Arrival in Rome
Flights into Rome arrive at the Da Vinci Airport at Fiumicino, a town to the west of Rome. From the airport there is a train that runs every 20 minutes to the Rome central train station called ROMA TERMINI. When you exit the Arrivals area of the airport, you will walk or take the elevator to the upper level and follow signs for the trains. Tickets cost around €14 and are available at the office just before the track area and also from the ticket machines. There may be a couple of stops along the way, at Roma Trastevere for example, but you need to stay on the train until the final stop at ROMA TERMINI. The ride will take about 35 minutes. If, for whatever reason, you do not want to use the train service into Rome, there are taxis and airport limos available. The trip takes 30-40 minutes and the cost is about €50.
Once at the Roma Termini station you will need to transfer to a train for Florence SMN station. Tickets for Florence can be purchased at either the airport or Roma Termini stations. Depending on whether you take a Regional (slower, 3.5-4 hrs) train or Freccia (faster, 1.5 hrs) train, the price can vary from €20-45.
Arrival at Milan Malpensa Airport
Malpensa is the arrival airport for trans-Atlantic flights arriving in Milan. The procedure for arrival in Milan is similar to the one for Rome. Depending on the time of day, you have 3 choices to get to MILANO CENTRALE train station:
- Train: The Malpensa Express departs frequently from the airport between the hours of 5:43AM to 10:56PM and takes about 1-1.5 hrs. The cost is €12.
- Shuttle bus: These operate on a 24 hour schedule with approximately 20 minute intervals, depending on the hours of the day, and take about 1 hour to arrive at the station. The cost is €10 or €16 round trip.
- Taxi: The cost for a taxi from the airport to the train station is €65-75 and the ride takes about 50 minutes.
Arrival at Milan Linate Airport
If you arrive from another European country there is a good chance your flight will arrive at Linate Airport. Again, you have choices of transportation to get to the MILANO CENTRALE station. Travel time is approximately 75 minutes:
- Taxi: Available outside the Arrival level.
- Coach: There is an airport coach service which runs to the Air Terminal at Milan Central Station.
Other Arrival Cities
If by any chance you are arriving in another Italian city (particularly for those who will be traveling before school begins) such as Pisa, Bologna, Genova, etc., the procedure is essentially like the one for Rome and Milan.
Buying Train Tickets
Tickets can be purchased online or in the stations at the ticket machines or information booths (most of the train clerks at the station speak English so do not worry about having to explain yourself in Italian).
From the train station of your location you will need to buy a ticket to FIRENZE SMN (Santa Maria Novella) station, the main station in Florence.
Posted in all Italian train stations there are large yellow and white timetables, located along or at the end of the platforms. One will be the ‘PARTENZE’ (departures) and the other ‘ARRIVI’ (arrivals). At the left of the timetable are the times of departures and arrivals of the various trains. Read across to see when and where the train will stop. Also included: Binario (Bin, this is the track number); a small sign for a bed indicates that there are sleeping facilities; 1-2 means first and second class service; a knife and fork indicates that there is a dining car.
Remember that in Europe, all trains run on a 24 hour clock or military time: for example, 2:00 PM is 14:00 and 12:30 PM is 00:30. Reading down the chart, all of the trains leaving will be listed chronologically at the left.
Depending on the time of your arrival and/or your travel desires, there are a variety of trains running daily to and from Florence. The most reliable trains to choose are the Freccia trains. These cost more but they are the fastest and most efficient.
To go to Florence you may be boarding a train with a destination beyond Florence (such as Milan, Venice, etc.). Make sure that the train you choose makes a stop at FIRENZE SMN (for Santa Maria Novella).
Once you have purchased your ticket, find out which track (binario) the train departs from and at what time. This information is also on the ‘PARTENZE’ timetable, but it is best to check the main board overhead, as sometimes the regular tracks can change.
Validate your ticket by stamping it at one of the validation machines in the station, or at the head of the track. Remember to do this! There are large fines to pay to the conductor if you do not validate your ticket before boarding the train.
Regional trains do not make seat assignments, so you may sit wherever you find a place. However, for those on the Freccia trains or anyone who decides to make a reservation on an Inter-city train, your ticket will include a seat reservation. For the Freccia trains this reservation is automatic. Find the car number and the seat assignment, and go to that seat. Don’t worry if someone tries to take your place — your ticket assures that the seat is yours!
When you arrive at Firenze SMN, take a taxi to the school as described above.
A Note of CAUTION about taxis: Beware the ‘gypsy’ cabs!
At many airports and stations there are ‘gypsy’ cabs (an unfortunate nickname) that will offer to take you into the city, but are not metered. Do not ride in a non-metered cab, even if they tell you that the price is the same or better. It usually isn’t!!
Other helpful train and transportation information
There are various kinds of trains in Italy. From the fastest to the slowest, these are:
- Freccia (Rossa, Argento and Bianco): These are Italy’s fastest trains with economy, premium, business and executive classes. These super fast trains have direct connections with very few stops, are more expensive than the other trains but worth the price. Special discounts may apply when tickets are purchased online in advance. They are air conditioned and generally have a restaurant or snack car.
- Intercity (IC) or EXPRESS: These trains provide normal, first and second-class service, making stops in most mid-sized cities. They are a good financial alternative to the rapid trains, but still fairly efficient. Also air-conditioned, usually with a bar/restaurant car as well. Beware of delays!
- Euronight: Overnight Express trains, or variations thereof, with couchettes (or Wagon Lit) for sleeping.
- Regionale (R), Regionale Veloce (RV) trains are relatively local and make numerous stops. They are good for short trips or when you are not in a hurry. They tend not to have air-conditioning or restaurant cars and may add several hours on to your trip.
If you are traveling with a group and want a compartment, you can get a reservation (it costs extra). Word to the wise: except for the automatic reservations with the Freccia trains, you cannot get a reservation on the day you travel. Check outside the compartment when you get on the train to see if it is reserved.
Short distances do not normally have a restaurant car but vendors often pass through with overpriced drinks and coffee. The Rome-Florence Express train often has a pleasant buffet and restaurant car. Bringing your own fruit, sandwiches, and drinks is not a bad idea, and no one will object.
Storing Bags while at the Station
Many, but not all, train stations have places to store luggage — Deposito Baggagli. These are safe and easy to use, with the obvious exception of valuables such as cameras and purses, which should be kept with you.
Taxis – General information
It is not easy to hail a taxi on the street in Italy, but it is possible. The easiest places to find a taxi are at the airports, train stations, or other major public spaces, where there are official taxi stands/stops and taxis are always waiting for passengers.
The general Italian system is to call for a Taxi and dispatchers usually speak English. You will declare your location, and they will locate a taxi for you. They will then give you the name of the cab (ex: Milano 33), followed by the estimated time of arrival: usually 3-5 minutes. While tipping is not necessary, it is courteous to round up on the price as a tip to the driver, or to offer 5-10%, but do not worry if you don’t have the right change, in general, tipping in Italy is not necessary, and people do not always expect it.
Buses – General Information
There are two types of buses:
- Local city buses (called ATAF in Florence)
- Inter-city buses which are run by various companies. You will find these similar to the Greyhound system in the U.S.
All buses use a ticket-validation system: you validate your ticket when you board the bus. If you have not done so and a conductor arrives, you will be assessed a fine.
Tickets for local buses can be purchased at any tabacchi shop or stand (sells tobacco, stamps, etc), or at most newsstands, some bars, or at street machines. There are various choices of tickets: one ride or one and a half hours; multiple-rides or Carta Agile; or longer-term passes, such as for one month.