Florence is one of Europe’s best-loved treasure troves of art and history. Amid all its Renaissance palaces, ancient churches and acclaimed art galleries, you’ll also find there’s a fascinating Italian city to explore too.
With old gardens and monuments stretching across the river and into the surrounding hills, it’s a perfect destination to explore by rental car. To make it easy for you, we’ve got car rental pick-up locations in convenient spots across Florence, including the International Airport, the modern commercial district and in the heart of the old city.
Whether you’re in Florence for business or a holiday, you’ll easily be able to find us and jump in one of our great selection of vehicles. And remember that you can pick up a car at one of our locations and drop it off at another if that helps your travel plans.
Florence is the crowning jewel of Italy’s wonderful Tuscany region. Its narrow streets and grand public squares are full of major sights, while the surrounding hills are also dotted with sensational scenery and attractions.
You’ll find that Florence itself is quite compact but its landmarks extend into the hills around it. And within a short drive in your rental car are other major historical destinations like Pisa, San Gimignano, and Lucca. They attract so many visitors the roads have been upgraded to cope.
Motorways are excellent and trunk roads are usually very good, however in remote areas, there are rough tracks, so slow down and take care.
You’ll find traffic can skirt around Florence on the A1 motorway, which heads north towards Milan and south to Rome. The SS67 is the main route through the city, crossing the River Arno via the Ponte Vittoria. The traffic is not nearly as challenging as Rome and many people enjoy driving in Florence. Near the center, however, there comes a point where it would be easier to park and explore the busiest sights on foot.
Whilst driving in Florence city center, be aware of the zona a traffico limitato (ZTL). These are areas for pedestrians, buses and taxis, so you won't be able to take your rental car into these – failing to abide by ZTLs may lead to a fine. You'll also find parking lots in both central Florence and just on the outskirts, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a space.
The traffic in Florence is generally steady, however, it can become congested during peak times. The maximum motorway speed is 80mph (68mph in the wet) and the limit is 68mph on dual carriageways (55mph in the wet). In built-up areas, the speed limit is 31mph.
It’s no accident that Florence is one of the most sought-after cities to visit in Europe. The galleries, churches, and mansions are full of the finest paintings and sculptures, and the city offers all the Italian treats of shopping, eating and people-watching too. Further afield are beautiful country villas, gardens, and pretty villages, as well as the other great attractions of Tuscany.
The historic sights of Florence
An ancient grid of narrow streets leads to impressive squares like the Piazza della Signoria and Piazza del Duomo, and you’ll find Florence's main galleries are close to these squares. In the Accademia, you’ll be able to gaze at the perfect form of Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. The city’s churches offer as much art as the galleries - from the dramatic Duomo Cathedral down to tiny backstreet chapels, you’ll stumble upon some fantastic art. Santa Croce Church is probably the best, thanks to its delicate Giotto frescoes and Michelangelo’s tomb. The view from the top of the Duomo is memorable too, almost as breath-taking as the long climb up the stairs that sit beneath its dome.
The brand Gucci was founded in Florence and that’s a hint about the standard of shopping you can find here. It ranges from luxury designer boutiques, including big Italian names like Gucci, Armani and Cartier, to exciting gold and jewelry stalls in the streets. There are good markets too, especially for locally produced food and clothes. Spend an afternoon browsing Florence’s smaller specialty shops for antiques and marbled paper too.
Even more exciting are the bargains from brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Fendi and Dolce and Gabbana that you can find in Florence’s out-of-town discount malls and factory shops.
Sampling the local cuisine
Among Italians, Florence is as renowned for food as it is for art. Local specialties include crostini – pieces of toast spread with tomato, garlic and olive oil – as a starter or small bar snack. Find an authentic family-run restaurant to discover Tuscan recipes that include surprisingly simple rural dishes like beefsteak grilled over an open fire, hearty bean soup and wild boar. Traditionally, there may be stops at ice-cream parlors afterwards too, a dessert the area is famed for.
Exploring wider Tuscany
Just to the north of the city is the small town of Fiesole that is easy to visit if you have a rental car. You’ll be able to see its amazing 1000-year-old Romanesque cathedral containing a shrine to the martyred St Romulus and the lavishly decorated Convent of San Domenico. It’s just a small place but if you wander around you’ll also find a Roman amphitheater and baths, city walls that date back to pre-Roman times and an ancient bishop’s palace. And between all the landmark buildings you’ll have an inspiring view down the hill over the city of Florence and the River Arno below.
Drive a little further from Florence and you’ll find major attractions in the rolling Tuscan hills. The extraordinary medieval towers of San Gimignano, the Leaning Tower, and Campo dei Mirocoli at Pisa and the intact medieval walled city of Lucca are all easily within a day trip of Florence.
Opening hours:Mo-Fr 0830-1830, Sa 0830-1230, Su closed
Address:Via del Sansovino 53
Opening hours:(Seasonal Location) Apr to Oct: Mo-Sa 0800-1900, Su 0800-1300 // Nov to Mar: Mo-Fr 0800-1900, Sa-Su 0800-1300
From 1 April 2017: Mo-Su 0800-1900
Address:Via Borgo Ognissanti 137/R
Opening hours:Mo-Sa 0830-2330, Su 0930-2330
Address:A Vespucci Airport, Amerigo Vespucci Airport
Opening hours:Mo-Sa 1000-2000, Su 1100-2000
Address:Via Francesco Redi 1