Florence is a medieval fairy tale city of churches, palazzos and cobblestones. However, like in other cities, it has had to adapt to modern times and technology. In January 2010, Florence took a giant leap into the future by christening the first of three tramway lines servicing the city center and surrounding areas.
Despite much debate and controversy regarding the new transportation system, the tramway (or tramvia) has made a significant change (dare we say improvement?) in the lives of many Florentines. But you may be wondering how this new form of transportation will affect you on your journey to Florence. Take note:
How to use the tram
The T1 (tramway line #1) runs from the Santa Maria Novella train station all the way to the center of the southwestern suburb of Scandicci. You can pick up the tram at the outdoor stop on the southern side of the main train station, in Via Alamanni.
Tickets, which are also valid for the bus system, cost €1.20 and are valid for 90 minutes. Trams leave about every five minutes and waiting times are displayed at each tram stop. To head outside of the city, look for the trams leading toward Villa Costanza. To return to the city center, hop on a tram heading in the Stazione Alamanni direction.
Where to go
So why would you want to use the tramway? Well, if you have a bit of time in Florence and you’d like to venture away from the museums and tour groups, hop on the tramway at Santa Maria Novella and take it one stop. This leaves you right across the street from the Stazione Leopolda, an old train station that has been converted into a large event space. Interesting and innovative events are hosted here periodically, such as a biannual vintage fair featuring sellers from all over Europe, music festivals, food and wine shows, fashion merchandising events and much more! Upcoming events are listed here (in Italian).
If the weather is forbidding, continue onto the second stop which leaves you at the start of the Cascine, Florence’s largest park that runs along the Arno River. Come here for a relaxing day of tanning on the sprawling lawns, running down the tree-lined boulevards or joining a game of pick-up soccer.
Beyond the Arno River
After these two initial stops, the tram takes you over the Arno River, offering a lovely view of the bridges as well, and heads out towards Scandicci. This area is mostly residential and industrial, so unless you are interested in really venturing out and people watching, you can skip the rest of the tram journey.
One benefit of Florence’s new tramway is that areas beyond the city center are now just a short ride away from the city’s main attractions. Whether you choose to explore the Cascine area, or head out farther towards Viale Etruria or even Scandicci, you will still have easy access into Florence’s city center. The trip from Florence to Scandicci only takes about 20 minutes and it puts you that much closer to the Tuscan hills.
So give the tramway a try and keep an eye out for the second and third tram lines, one of which is planned to provide quick and easy access to Florence’s airport!