Getting to Florence By Road

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Italy has an excellent network of motorways (autostrada), designated by the letter ‘A’. The main north–south link is the Autostrada del Sole, which links Milan with Reggio Calabria in the toe of Italy. Speed limits on motorways are 130kph (81mph) for cars of 1100cc or more and 110kph (68mph) for smaller cars. All motorways are tolled – driving from Florence to Rome will cost approximately €13. Visitors on a budget may prefer the strade statali (designated by ‘SS’), which are toll free and are often fast, multi-lane carriageways. The speed limit on these roads is 110kph (68mph) – too slow for the speed obsessed Italians and therefore a more leisurely drive for the rest of the world. Strade bianche, small country roads, abound in the countryside around Florence and are well worth exploring for their picture postcard views of the Italian countryside. By law, both driver and passenger must wear their seatbelts, if fitted, or face an on-the-spot fine of €30. Random breath tests can be imposed and the penalties for drink driving are severe – the maximum legal alcohol to blood ratio is 0.08%. Speeding fines follow EU standards and are levied between €30.50 and €303, depending on the speed, while driving through a red light costs €60.50. The minimum age for driving is 18 years old. All those without an EU licence must carry an International Driving Permit. EU nationals taking their own car will need an International Insurance Certificate, also known as a Green Card (Carta Verde). Autostrade (tel: (055) 420 3200; website: www.autostrade.it) provides information on motorway traffic in Italy, while Automobile Club Italiana – ACI (tel: (06) 49981 or 4477 for 24-hour information) provides general information for drivers.

Emergency breakdown service:
ACI 116

Routes to the city: The central road artery of Italy, the A1, links Florence to Milan, Bologna, Rome and Naples. Depending on the direction of approach, access is via the first exit marked ‘Firenze’ (Nord or Sud). From there, signs for the city centre are marked (centro). There are tourist offices along the A1, north and south of the city, if navigation proves tricky. The Autostrada del Mare (A11) is the main road to Pisa and the coast, linking the city to Tuscan towns such as Lucca, Prato and Siena.

Approximate driving times to Florence: From Bologna – 1 hour; Rome – 2 hours; Milan – 3 hours.

Coach services: International coaches depart from Lazzi Station, Piazza Adua 1 (tel: (055) 215 155 or 351 061; fax: (055) 284 427; website: www.lazzi.it), next to the train station of Santa Maria Novella. In collaboration with Eurolines (website: www.eurolines.it), the station operates an extensive coach service to major European cities, including Barcelona, Budapest, Vienna, Brussels, Paris and Prague. The station shares facilities with the nearby train station, Firenze SMN (see Getting There By Rail).

For domestic travel, the blue SITA (tel: (055) 294 955 or (800) 373 760; website: www.sita-on-line.it) coaches arrive and depart from the Sita Bus Station, Via Santa Caterina da Siena, west of the train station. The fast service to Siena is the most direct way for travellers to reach Florence’s medieval neighbour. There are also services to Arezzo, Poggibonsi and the wine towns of Chianti (Castellina, Radda and Gaiole).

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Getting to Florence

Situated in the northwest of Italy, surrounded by the wine-growing hills of Chianti, the city attracts rapture and frustration in equal proportions.

When's best to visit Florence?

It is best for visitors to avoid the peak summer months of July and August, when the weather can be unbearably sticky and the prospect of trailing around museums becomes unappealing. Early autumn, when the countryside glows with mellow fruitfulness, is the best time to visit, avoiding the heat and the queues and capitalising on the soft light, empty streets and the abundance of wild mushrooms and just-pressed olive oil.