on May 28, 2007
The train station is not a tourist site exactly, but it may definitely be on your list of places to go because you want to get to and from Florence. Knowing some details about the station can be a key to a better vacation. Florence has a number of train stations that link the main areas of the city, but the principle train station for national and international trains is Santa Maria Novella, (or Firenze SMN according to Trenitalia codes) located right in the city centre, in Piazza Stazione, across a busy intersection from the Santa Maria Novella Church. In general, train travel in Italy is relatively inexpensive and rapid. High-speed, long-distance trains connect Florence Santa Maria Novella with other Italian and European cities via the the main north south line running from Milan to Rome. Connections from Florence to Rome and Milan are excellent, and Rome is roughly 1 hour 40 minutes away, and Milan is 3 hours away on the high speed trains.The bus station for many regional and international buses can be seen nearby across the busy intersection outside the front entrance. The station itself has many bars and cafes, where you will be able to find the most expensive bottles of soft drinks in Florence. Important to note for day trippers or those stopping in Florence en route to elsewhere, the station has a baggage deposit office where you can store your bags while you explore Florence. You pay by the length of time you store your baggage. A sign says there is a 22 kg limit for weight but when we went, they did not seem to be enforcing the weight limit and took my very heavy bag. There is also a busy information center and shops where you can find that toothpaste you forgot to pack. Train tickets can be bought at the ticket office, but there are also self serve stations, some of which take credit cards. Many of the smaller train stations in Italy accept only cash.Connected to the station is an underground shopping gallery which has a good selection of budget clothes and shoe shops, Internet cafes, music and book shops, and even a hairdresser. The underground complex lets you avoid crossing the busy intersection if you want to go to Santa Maria Novella church or the bus station.The station and the underground shopping area have public toilets, something of a rarity in Italy, but you have to pay €0.80 to use them. When we were there, I was desperate, so willing to pay the fee. But you can avoid the payment by using the washrooms in the small restaurants at the station, especially at the McDonald's no one seems to mind if you go in just to use the washroom.One amusing thing we saw were the police at the train station riding segways rather than walking. Florence police have uniforms designed by Armani. Talk about designer cops.
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