Travel from the UK

Travel Help sheet – UK to Tuscany – Florence.

This help sheet is a free service – we do not take commission from any of the companies mentioned here.  The information must be considered to be only advisory and we cannot take any responsibility for the accuracy of the following paragraphs – we just offer it in an attempt to be helpful.  You must make your own checks on the validity of the information below:

There are principally 3 airports which are convenient for Florence – in addition we mention Rome and Rimini  which are reasonable for Florence and DeiMori in the Countryside. (Villa La Massa).

Most of the connections we list will terminate at Florence Santa Maria Novella train station (Florence SMN).  From here it is an easy 15 minute walk to the Historical Centre and DeiMori or a nine or ten EURO taxi ride

To reach the taxi rank, get off the train, walk to the main concourse, turn left, walk past Macdonald’s and a pharmacy, turn right at the end of the building and the taxi rank will be ahead of you.

Florence (FLO):

This is about 5 km out of town and is well served by buses and taxis.  Flights into this airport tend to be rather more expensive than others.  Meridiana makes the flight from Gatwick.  Air France flies from several UK airports to Paris to transfer onto connecting flights Florence.  Lufthansa provides a similar service via Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Munich as does Swiss via Zurich

All the major car hire outlets are situated just outside of the arrivals hall.  Florence airport is quite small and easy to manage.

A taxi ride to the centre is a fixed €21 although you will pay extra for passengers over 2 people, and €1 for each bag you put in the boot.

There is a shuttle bus which runs twice an hour (on the hour and half hour).  The cost is €5 per person.  Come out of arrivals, turn right and walk through the gathered taxis (giving them withering looks as you go) and stand with the poor people at the bus stop.  You buy the ticket on the bus.  The journey time is about 20 minutes and the bus stops at the train station.  We do this if we are on our own , but if you are two, it is scarcely worth it.  There is no point in paying €5 to get to the station and then taking a €10 taxi to DeiMori – better to get the €20 odd  taxi straight to DeiMori – this even more so when there are two of you.  Just ask the taxi driver for Hotel DeiMori in Via Dante Alighieri.

I never quite understand this obsession we have for tipping taxi drivers – just give them what they ask for!

Pisa (PSA):

This is our personal favourite in terms of price and convenience.  British Airways flies here from Gatwick, but importantly Ryanair flies here up to three times a day from London Stansted and also operates during the Spring, Summer and Autumn from Liverpool, Bournemouth, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Dublin. Edinburgh  and Glasgow – this is usually the carrier and route with the best deals.  Despite some adverse publicity, we have never had any real cause for complaint about this airline and must have made hundreds of successful flights with them.  They do what they promise – get you there cheaply and reasonably punctually.  Just be careful with the following

  • Do not try to make any alterations to a reserved flight – the charges are huge.
  • Be sure to remember to check-in on line for both outward and return segments – they charge a large fee per person should you forget.
  • Stick rigidly to the the luggage limits – they will.  They really mean 15Kg for a suitcase and they do check weigh and measure carry on baggage so do make sure that you control and adhere to their limits in terms of dimensions and weight.
  • One piece of ‘carry on’ does mean just that.  The fees and charges for any excess baggage is horrible.

They do not fly to all destinations each day – check on their website

Easyjet flies in from Bristol, Gatwick and Luton  to Pisa.  They have slightly more generous luggage limits as does Jet 2 from Manchester and Leeds Bradford.

British Airways  (BA) also make regular flights from Gatwick – please do not dismiss them as being expensive – these days they have to be reasonable in order to remain competitive.  Often when you add all the budget carrier ’extras’ they add up to be similarly priced to BA on ‘a good day’ – you also get a free sandwich and cup of tea.

Thomsonfly offers seasonal  routes to Pisa from both Manchester and Gatwick.

In addition, Jet 2 flies to Pisa directly from Manchester and Leeds Bradford and the prices on this route seem quite attractive.  A further bonus with this airline is that if you book a case on then you get a 22kg allowance

Pisa airport has a station right outside the terminal building and from there the journey time to Florence is just over one hour with the cost being about 8.00€.  Further trains run from Pisa Main Station and this can be reached by a regular bus service which runs from the airport.  Bus and train tickets can be bought at the airport – turn right as you come out of arrivals and there is a window on the end wall which says ‘treno’.  In addition, there is a ticket machine near to the platform.  To reach the train platforms, walk the full length of the terminal building and exit through the doors facing you.  The trains wait right there – do not forget to cancel your ticket in the machines on the platform – these machines are rather small, generally yellow.  If you forget to cancel your tickets, clearly write in pen the date and time on the short edge of the ticket and claim that the machine would not work.

Get off the train at the Florence Main Station Firenze – Santa Maria Novella (SMN).

The trains direct from the airport to Florence are somewhat infrequent and you get a much wider choice from Pisa Train Station.  Not so far away but not a walk – you van either take the shuttle bus (tickets from the driver) or a taxi to Pisa Centrale.  There is a tickets Office there and of course machines which take both cash and credit cards.  The journey time to Florence does vary so look for a train which completes in maybe 75 minutes maximum.  Often a later departing train will arrive at Florence before one scheduled earlier.

When you get on the train at Pisa remember that Florence is a terminus station so getting in right at the front of the train means a shorter walk in Florence.

There is also a useful bus company running regular and comfortable coaches between Pisa Airport and Florence SMN train station.  The company is called Terravision and the website is listed below.

An additional bus company which I prefer (please do not ask me why) is called autostradale .

If you are arriving on one of the flights later in the evening or departing early in the morning we consider it essential to reserve seats on terravision bus on the internet.

All the major car hire outlets are situated in the arrivals hall.

Rimini:

On the Adriatic coast but not so bad for la Massa.  Ryanair flies from Liverpool and Stansted.

Rome Airports – Fiumicino and Ciampino:

Both reasonable in that they are about a 3 hour drive from la Massa ( mostly motorway) and a convenient train ride to Florence.

Bologna (BLQ):

Not as convenient as Pisa the journey time to city centre is more than Pisa and there is no direct rail link – you have to shuttle to the main train station. British Airways flies here from London and Manchester.  Bologna Airport is somewhat larger than Pisa – there is no direct rail link but a frequent bus service operates to Bologna main station (journey time about 15 minutes).  From there you can travel to Florence by either Eurostar or Intercity – Eurostar being rather more expensive and you must have a reservation – this can be made at the station in the main booking hall or you can buy Eurostar tickets on line at www.trenitalia.it – there is an ‘English Option’  You can also make general enquiries for all Italian trains on this website.  The journey time from Bologna to Florence by Eurostar is slightly in excess of one hour. All the major car hire outlets are situated in the arrivals hall.

Ryanair flies here from Edinburgh, Gatwick and Stansted.

Easy Jet flies from Gatwick

Driving Your Car to Tuscany:

We do this quite frequently and find it a very enjoyable experience.  From the South of the United Kingdom, you can easily do it with one overnight stop, from the midlands and North, you are better to take two or even three night stops.  When we do it, we like to stop three times – makes it a holiday.  Bruges in Belgium makes a great stopover place – beautiful city and great chips!

We find the shipping line which used to be called Norfolk Line to be reliably the cheapest.  They are now DFDS and we expect to pay £19:00 for a one way ticket for the car (and I think up to 4 passangers).  You can pay an extra seven or eight pounds for the ‘executive lounge’.  Depends if you think it is worth it, you get a free cup of coffee, wifi and a comfy ‘executive’ chair!  They sail Dover Dunkirk. (Dunkirk is just a little North of Calais and is perfectly convenient

Driving Route Pointers:

  • French Motorways are expensive – avoid them in part by routing through Belgium and Luxembourg
  • The Swiss take €40 off you to use their motorways.  This lasts a year, but what if you only want two weeks?
  • If you touch Austria, you must pay a weekly fee to use their motorways – not a huge expense.
  • Petrol and Diesel is considerably cheaper in Luxembourg – aim to arrive there empty and fill up.
  • Italian motorways (autostrada) are generally toll roads, but the fee is not so bad
  • The cheapest way of doing it in terms of tolls / fuel /costs / distance is Belgium, Lux, a bit of France, into Austria and then Italy.
  • If you do drive Switzerland, in our experience it is never worth queuing for the St Gottard tunnel, the Pass is quicker.
  • Bruges is a lovely place to stop for the night – great food.

Train:

Another (rather expensive) option is to use the train – Eurostar to Paris and then overnight sleeper to Florence.  A nice way to travel.

Bike:

Those hills in Switzerland are a bit of a pain!

Finally:

This list of routings is not exhaustive – if you find a good option, a great place to stay on route, a cost saving situation, please be sure to tell us so that we can update this as is necessary.

Useful web-sites:

www.ryanair.com

www.easyjet.com

www.jet2.com

www.ba.com

www.trenitalia.it

www.terravision.it

http://www.thomsonfly.com

http://www.norfolkline.com

http://www.autostradale.it/