The public transportation, apart from the occasional strike, is fantastic in Italy. I guess they have to make up for not having Uber. (Although I’ve heard in some cities like Rome they do). Anyways, let’s look at the different options for getting from point A to point B.
Italy in General
Fast trains and local trains. Visit the train sites such as trenitalia.it or italo.it. (Change language to English) They have affordable fast trains connecting all the major cities. They also have slower, even more affordable ones the stop at more of the smaller towns along the way. Some trains, usually regional trains where you don’t choose a seat, require you to time stamp your ticket at one of the small ticket machines. DON’T forget to do this! Please ask an official if you are unsure. Otherwise you can face a fine.
Purchasing Tickets: You can buy tickets online or at the kiosks at the train station. Buying a few days in advance can save you sometimes 30 euros or more.
Again, linking most places. Try different nearby airports to see which fare is cheaper. For example, sometimes it is much cheaper to fly out of Pisa instead of Florence, and it is easy to take a 6 euro shuttle bus to the Pisa airport from Florence. (It leaves from the main train station, Santa Maria Novella)
This is the metro that links the city center to Scandicci, a small town on the outskirts of Florence. It begins at the main train station, Santa Maria Novella, then passes by Porta a Prato, then goes to the Cascine, and so on. Depending on where your hotel is, or if you are living in Florence or not, you might never use the Tramvia except to maybe visit the Cascine Park. You can buy a ticket at the red kiosk at the stop or at a tabbacheria. Don’t forget to time stamp your ticket when you board at one of the yellow machines!
The “C” buses often go through the city center (C1, C2, etc). It is a great way to get a cheap, seated visit of the city. For only 1.20 you can board one of these buses and just look out the windows, getting off wherever you see fit. Bus 13 is the bus that goes up to Piazza Michelangelo. Again, for just 1.20, you can board the bus and see a bit more of the residential area before crossing the arno (river) and making the climb up the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo (you’ll also see some nice villas on the way). Most buses, if not all, stop at some point at the main train station, Santa Maria Novella. You can buy your tickets at a tabbacheria or even some coffee bars. Don’t forget to time stamp your ticket when you board!!!
White taxis can be seen everywhere. There are also certain taxi pick up spots, marked “Taxi”.
Otherwise, the historical center of Florence is pretty small. It’s very walkable, but on those days you just don’t feel like hiking back, a taxi or city bus easily comes to the rescue.