Thursday, March 15, 2007


Every morning when I get up, I go into the kitchen and throw open the window and look down on the street below. There is always a lot of activity with tour groups going to Piazza Santa Croce, folks walking to work, street sweepers, construction workers, postal carriers, etc. As you have seen from the photos, the street is very narrow.

Due to some construction on the next street over, a temporary detour for some small buses has been routed down my street. These buses are very small and are labeled only with A, B, C, or D. I see these buses pass, and have wondered where they go, so I decided to find out.

I perused my guide books and found limited information. First of all, it costs 1.20 euro for a 70 minute ride. The tickets must be stamped in a machine when you get on, and you buy the tickets at the Tabbachi shops. Tabbachi shops are the 7-11 of Italy. They have stamps, bus tickets, sodas, postcards, etc. You can buy a ticket on board for 2 euro, but the drivers do not give change.

Good information, but nothing about routes, times etc. I decided a trip to the bus station was in order to gather more information.

The bus station and the train station are across the street from each other. When Nick comes to visit, we are planning a train trip to Milan, so I thought I would check out the train station while I was there also.

Train tickets are purchased through an automated machine, that comes in 6 languages, and looks pretty straight forward. The station is nice, and it seems that this will be relatively straightforward. More on that after the actual trip! The train station does have, of all things, a McDonalds!

Anyway, the bus station is confusing. There are tons of buses, that travel outside of Florence, inside Florence, around Italy, etc. It was difficult to locate the information office, but I finally did by asking newstand vendors in the area. I went into the information center and asked for a route map. They gave me a very nice map, and it is in Italian and in English! Yeah! Unfortunately, all of the buses in Florence have routes on this map so it is a little difficult to tell one from the other. Additionally, all of the stops are not listed. I decided, armed with my map to try one of the routes out.

I had to go to the Questura (police station) to apply for my Permesso Di Soggiorno (permission to stay) document. You must have this in addition to the Visa! It is supposed to be applied for within 8 days of entering the country, so I am late. Anyway, the station is on the other side of town. It is within walking distance, but I thought a good chance to see what the buses would be like. I got up early so that I could be on the bus my 8:30. I stopped and had a café on the way to buy my bus ticket, but when I got to the Tabbachi store, it was closed. I went to the Edicola (newstand) and they sold me the ticket.

I waited at the bus stop for the C bus to come along. When it came, there were only 2 other people on the bus. I got on, and immediately located the machine to stamp my ticket. I was on my way! I tried to follow the route on the map that I have, and did pretty well I discovered that I was going in the wrong direction, so had to stay on the bus a little longer as it makes it circular route. Going to a stop around the corner from my apartment would have put me in a more direct route. More people got on and off the bus along the way. Clearly these people ride the bus everyday, because they all knew each other and talked and said hello. One mother was taking her daughter to preschool, 2 old ladies were going to church, an old man to the library. I was clearly the "outsider" although several people did say Buon Giorno. Anyway, I made it to the stop that I was looking for, and it was all relative harmless! There are 3 more routes for me to explore. I think these will be handy when my Mom comes to visit, and maybe when it is raining and I have to get out. Really, there is no reason not to walk everywhere in Florence! A photo of the bus, and one of the McDonalds in the train station are above.

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