Cheap flights to Florence will likely transit via a major European city such as Rome, London or Frankfurt. Cheap flights leave from Perth, with east coast departures from Sydney and Melbourne slightly more expensive. Australians do not need a visa to enter Italy if their stay is less than 90 days. Amerigo Vespucci Airport is situated on the north-west outskirts of Florence, 4 km from the city centre. The airport is about 15 minutes from the city by taxi, and 20 minutes by a SITA/ATAF bus shuttle, which travels to the central railway station of Santa Maria Novella. Departures from the airport are every 30 minutes between 6am to 8.30pm, then every hour until 11.30pm. Tickets can be purchased directly on board from the driver. A one-way ticket costs about A$8.
Florence's main historic centre is relatively small, so it is easy to move around on foot. Using a car is not advisable, as there is little parking, many streets are pedestrian only and streets are often one-ways. A fleet of cheap small electric buses provides links between main key areas in the centre. Tickets for city buses can be purchased from authorised sales, which have "ATAF" stickers on their shop windows. There are three doors on the ATAF buses, the front and back ones are for getting on and the middle one is for getting off. After getting on, insert your ticket in a "ticket validating" machine. The date and time is then printed on the ticket, giving the holder 90 minutes of travel to hop on an off any bus during that time. For sightseeing, there is also open top, two-storey sightseeing buses, which follow a route to past all the main sights as well the more panoramic points of the city.
Florence is a cheap open-air museum, with evidence it is the heart of the Italian Renaissance around every corner. The city’s piazzas, cathedrals, churches and palaces were designed, built and decorated by many of the most illustrious artists of the time, from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo. But in order to see most of its treasures go indoors and visit some museums. The Accademia Gallery houses Michelangelo's David, easily the most famous sculpture in the world, while at the Uffizi Gallery, among the most visited museums in the world, traveller’s can see Botticelli's Primavera and Birth of Venus; Filippino Lippi's Madonna and Child with Two Angels and Titian's Venus of Orbino. Palazzo Vecchio, literally the "Old Palace", still fulfils its original role as Florence's town hall. Completed in 1302, the palazzo retains its medieval appearance.
Florence offers a vast variety of shops, from famous designers' boutiques to vintage shops, from hand-crafted products to cheap mass produced souvenirs. Those after high-end Italian fashion should head to Via Tornabuoni, a street lined with luxury shops and boutiques of famous designers. For cheaper options head to Via dei Calzaiuoli or Via dei Cerretani, while leather buffs should seek out the San Lorenzo Market or the area around Piazza Santa Croce. For cheap food to take back to the hotel to cook up, head downtown to the Sant'Ambrogio Market where fresh in-season produce, oils, pastas, butcher shops and more abound. A cheap meal can be found walking down most streets in Florence which are dotted with trattorias, enotecas and restaurants. For an intellectual night out head to Libreria Café la Cité, which is a cafe, bookstore and cultural centre, and hosts free evening events, such as jazz jam sessions, tango lessons and live music.
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