On February 14 2010 the new Florence Tramway will be inaugurated at last. After five years of construction and a part of the citizens against the project, the first line of this new public transportation system will be active. I am pro-tramway, I think that the tramway will improve the citizens’ quality of life, as it’s cheap, ecologic, very fast (sure faster than bus) and should even be always on time (here in Italy punctuality of public services is a strange thing…).
Line 1 will connect the southern part of the city to the centre of Florence, and soon will be built lines 2 and 3, connecting other parts of the city. I hope that a new, efficient and diffused public transportation system will encourage Florentines to leave the car in their garages and move around with public mass transport. Florence has a real traffic problem, traffic jams at rush hours, even if the historical centre has some limitations to car traffic, is still chocking because of too many cars. So a new mass transportation system is not an option, but a real need.
Line 1 starts at Scandicci, enters the city of Florence and runs over via Nenni, viale Talenti and via del Sansovino. After Piazza Paolo Uccello crosses the Arno River with a brand new bridge and enter the Cascine park. From Piazza Vittorio Veneto continues to Viale Fratelli Rosselli, Via Jacopo da Diacceto and Via Alamanni. Here will soon rejoins the path of Line 2 to Santa Maria Novella train station. The races on weekdays, when fully implemented (April 2010), will be every 3.5 minutes during rush hours, every 6 minutes during the normal hours and every 12 minutes during the late evening.
I’d like to participate to the very first ride of the tramway!
Florence is not so big, and the historical centre can be easily visited by foot, that’s the best way to enjoy the streets and the atmosphere of the city, but there is a good public transportation service which is useful to cover distances in a short time and have more time to dedicate to the city.
There are several kind of buses: the city bus is called “autobus”, the regional coaches are called “Pullman”. Ataf buses are the city lines, and cover almost every corner of the city. In the historical centre there are also small electric buses with circular paths (Li-Nea) that can be used with the same ticket of the normal buses.
You can buy the tickets in every newsstand and tobacco shops (see the sign with the “T”) and then validate on bus; the normal ticket costs 1,20 euro and lasts 90 minutes. There are also daily tickets (5 euros), 3 day tickets (12 euros) and “carta agile”, a card with 10 tickets for 10 euros. You can also buy the ticket on the bus (just ask the driver) but the cost is higher (2 euros). The most part of the lines stops at Santa Maria Novella Station and Piazza San Marco.
For the tourists there’s City Sightseeing Tour bus service, with daily tickets and two different lines and multilingual guides that allows you to tour the city seeing the most important tourist attractions and hop on and off to visit what you want. Tickets can be bought on board.
To get out of Florence use the coaches: Lazzi, Sita and Cap. The bus station is right behind Santa Maria Novella Train Station.
To get to Florence Airport you can use the shuttle: departures every 30 minutes from 6.00 to 23.00, the shuttle will take you right in front of Santa Maria Novella Station and back. The single ticket is called "Volainbus" and costs 5 euros, 8 euros if you want the return ticket too.
Today I’m going to tell you about another city in Tuscany, less famous than Firenze, but really interesting from a touristic point of view: Livorno. That’s the city where I was born! I moved to Florence when I was 20 but my family still lives in Livorno and I often go back to my beautiful natal city. Livorno is on the coast known as the Etruscan Coast, about 90 kilometres from Firenze, from which you can easily reach by train or car in about 1 hour and half. It’s just 20 kilometres far from Pisa, and the two cities are kind of enemies from centuries.
Livorno was a small port and village until Ferdinando I de’ Medici decided to found here a new city, an ideal perfect city according to the renaissance theories. Soon Livorno became the main port of Tuscany, and people from all over the world came here: merchants, sailors, exiled and refugees for political or religious reasons. That’s because Ferdinando I enacted a law that opened up the city to everyone who wanted to live and work here, no matter their nationality, religion or if they where exiled from other countries. Livorno became a melting pot of cultures, religions and thoughts. Jews were not contained into a ghetto, indeed they were powerful, rich and attained important political positions. Other communities living in Livorno came from Greece, Germany, France, Netherlands, England, Armenia, Eastern Europe, Asia and Muslim Countries, each one free to establish its own church, cemetery and schools. Still today the city is very opened to the difference (in culture, art, politic and society) and tolerance and respect are very important values.
The city is rich in history and architecture, as you can see from my pictures, from late renaissance to baroque, then neo-classicism and even some exquisite art nouveau buldings. The historical neighbourhood of Venezia Nuova (“New Venice”) was built in the early 1600 and is very characteristic, thanks to its water canals that surround small islands and that were used to transport goods from the port to the storehouses placed in the lower level of the palaces. Plus there’s a beautiful long waterside with sidewalks, gardens and a wonderful terrace on the sea. At the south edge of the city starts a wonderful panoramic road, il Romito, that runs on the top of an impressive cliff that falls down in the sea; here you can find one of the most fascinating and wild places to enjoy the sea. Not sandy beaches, but colourful rocks, crystal waters and lots of sealife to admire while snorkelling.
Don’t forget the pleasure of tasting the local cuisine, made of fresh seafood that reflects the multi-cultural influences of the city, and that is considered the best in Tuscany and one of the best in Italy. The local dishes are made with the “poor” fish, those species of fishes that could not be sold at the market and ended in the fisherman’s pan. Less noble but cheaper and super-tasty!!!
I highly recommend you to visit Livorno, discover the fascinating story of the city, enjoy the beautiful sea, and taste one of the best Italian sea cuisine!
that's my dog at Terrazza Mascagni, an amazing terrace on the seaone of the canals in Venezia Nuovathe church of santa Caterina reflecting in the water surface of the canal (Venezia Nuova)la Fortezza Nuova (ancient fortress) in the Medicean port of Livornothe rocky cliffs and crystal water of Romito
The first time I saw the snow in Florence was 2005, and then it happened again! I took those few pictures the night of december 20th, when the snow was beginning to fall... it was really amazing, such a magical feeling watching the snow flakes falling over Santa Maria Novella! The next morning I drove to my parent's house for Christmas, on a snowy and icy highway... end of the magic! :-(
the street where I live... one of the cars is mine :-)
snow on Santa Maria Novella
snow on the christmas trees in Piazza della Stazione