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Buses, Maps and Car Sharing in Florence

My wife has bad arthritis and likes to take the bus even in "walkable" cities, what can I say? We life in NYC and have found Google maps to be the best mapping program for public transit (buses and subways). That has also been true for several years in Italy. A few years ago in Florence Google Maps said there was no bus, another app said there was a bus. We waited a while and finally realized that bus line stopped running at 9pm, Google had it right.

We've been in Florence for a few weeks, and about a week ago Google Maps suddenly stopped showing buses. It would either show you how to walk when you selected public transit, or it would show ridiculous routes involving walking twenty minutes to take a ten minute train ride with a 25 minute walk at the other end. When there is a bus that is almost direct. I've reported the failure to Google a few times, but they have the whole world, and one guy complaining in one city doesn't seem to work. Anyway, the local bus company ATAF has a slow clunky app called "ATAF" that works, but not quickly or easily. I found an iPhone App called Moovit that is working great, it shows a choice of routes on buses and shows how long the walk is at each end.

On another transit subject, Florence has at least three car sharing companies. Sharengo's vehicles and GPS are just awful, Car2Gos vehicles (Smart Cars) are pretty good, and their system works very well. The cars have built-in TomTom GPS that is excellent. The cool thing is that you can drive and park in ZTL zones. And you can park in resident only parking spaces. It's about 25 cents per minute (and you can take a five minute drive if you need to), but cheaper if you book for 2, 4, 6 or 24 hours. Last week we took the train to Siena, 40 Euro roundtrip for two. Today we took a Car2Go to San Gimingnano, 48 Euro (for six hours) for a Car2Go that was three minutes from our apartment. We're also used the cars for a ten minute trip up to Foretezza di Belvedere, which is way uphill with no buses handy. You need an IDP (International Driver's Permit) and must go to the Car2Go Firenze office (or another Car2Go office in Europe) to have them validate your IDP (you have already uploaded your US driving license through their app or website).

I've also signed up and validated for ENI Enjoy, another car sharing company that was able to do it all electronically (painfully). They kept rejecting me saying I didn't qualify, email tech support was useless. Finally I called and they told me I had mistakenly entered the date of issue of my NY driver's license, which happened to be in the past year, when it asked for the license issue date. That made them think I was a new driver and not to be trusted. They said to put the date I first got my license (more than 30 years ago) and that worked fine. I haven't tried their cars yet, as they have fewer in Florence than Car2Go and none has popped close enough so far.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a real game changer. To rent a car for a day trip from Florence is a huge hassle, time suck and expensive. To use a Car2Go is quick and simple (and the fees include gas and all insurance). Note the ZTL and parking stuff is only in a designated active Car2Go zone in Florence (and at the airport). You can drive your Car2Go to Siena or another city, but there you have to respect the ZTL, and you have to return the car to Florence to end the rental. One drawback is having to find a legal parking space when you are done, not so easy in downtown Florence. Oh, and one other hassle - my US Car2Go account wasn't usable here, I had to create a new different Europiean account, with a different email and phone number. Car2Go is also in Milan, Rome and Turin.


100+ Posts
Wow! that is very useful information, thank you!
Sounds like all these options have made your stay more enjoyable!
That does sound very interesting and useful. I do have a question. How stressful was it to drive around Florence? I’ve driven in Europe fairly extensively but always avoid driving in bigger cities if possible. I would appreciate your thoughts on actually driving within the city.
I live in New York City and I drive there. I find it stressful to bicycle in Florence (much more than New York) because there are so many people walking in the streets, and there don't seem to be any standards for riding on the right side of the road, so even on pedestrian streets bikes are going both ways on all sides of the street. Driving is less stressful, especially in the historic center there are relatively few cars (mostly buses and taxis). There are relatively few through streets, so driving is not simple, and the TomTom GPS in the Car2Go is very helpful. Although the Car2Go Smart cars don't have great acceleration they are extremely maneuverable since they are so small. We're not driving every day, but when we have it has been fine.

And yes, someone else suggested the bus going to Siena, perhaps next time.


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