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A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:13 am

I am enjoying planning a trip to Florence, Italy for next March to visit my buddy who is studying abroad there for his Spring sememster. I am flying American over the pond to Europe and then picking up a flight to FLR. From my research there are only a few carriers that offer more than one or two departures a day from FLR, those carriers being LH, Meridiana, AF, and Alitalia. It seems like Meridiana will work best with the times of the flights they offer.

Is Meridiana financially stable? I would hate to book the ticket from LGW-FLR to see them go under and have to figure out another way to get to FLR. Also is it worth it to pay extra for Business Class on them? Any information you can give me on Meridiana, any tips you might have, or any information on the city of Florence would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 
jrlander
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Ita

Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:49 am

Does Swiss fly to FLR? Crossair used to. You could connect through Zurich to FLR. I you fly Meridiana, you will have to recheck your bags, I believe. The Florence airport is a small one. I've flown FCO-FLR-FCO before to connect to a Delta flight. If you might be flying directly into Italy, especially FCO, it is often a better deal to take the train, connecting at Rome Termini. The trains between Rome and Florence (Eurostar, I think is the name of the service on the Italian state Railways) is really, really quite nice.
 
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 7:00 am

Swiss would have been the easiest option, but they are pulling out of FLR. I have thought about taking the train into Rome, However the flights into Rome are a tad more expensive, making it cheaper to fly into London, and then buying another ticket on another airline; rather than flying into FCO AND then buying a train ticket. Furthermore I might not be able to confirm my upgrade to 'J' on AA with them ahead of time if I take a EWR-ORD-FCO routing.

However, I am open to ALL options and I AM thinking about flying AA from JFK-LHR then BA down to FCO. Can I pick up the train directy at FCO that would take me directly to FLR or would I need to take a train or bus from FCO to another station to pick up the train to FLR, also how long does that take? I have also thought about the option about flying into Pisa, Bologna, or Milan but have had trouble finding EXACT information on the train schedules and location of the stations and times of the trains. Also the idea of me getting off a flight in Pisa after I have traveled 2 or 3 other segments to make another connection does not seem to appealing now, BUT I am open to that option.

A big factor as well is time. I would like to try to arrive into FLR before 5PM on a Saturday and I THINK I can do that flying AA then transfering to Meridiana which might get me in as early at 1:00 PM which would be quite nice.
 
nudelhirsch
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 7:04 am

I might get banned for this advice, reason "non-aviation-related", but I was in Tuscany for vacation, and something I really tell anyone to do once in his life: take a car, and do the road trip through Switzerland, maybe starting from ZRH, southbound via the Gotthard-Tunnel, down to Genova, and along the coast (La Spezia has a beautiful harbor...) the from there either direct towards Florence, or as an alternative, more coast driving to Pisa, from there via Lucca, Siena to Florence.

As You will be down there, Florence is awesome, but don't dare to miss Pisa, Siena, don't even think about skipping a wine-probation in Chianti, and go to San Gimignano, beatiful old town, with the famous "Vernaccia Di SanGimignano", an awesome white wine...

To calm down those who would ban me...Rome would be a city to fly into, or Milano, I think both have more European, even American traffic, than Florence...

And contact me, if You need some good things to see down there. If I will ever own a vacation home, it will be one in Tuscany...

By now I'm jealous about Your trip...but have fun!!!
Putana da Seatbeltz!
 
I LOVE EWR
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 7:08 am

Nudelhirsch, thanks for your wonderful response!!!!!!! I wish I could spend more time in Italy but can't because of my schedule. I will be flying in on a Saturday leaving the following Friday  Sad

PS. I might be contacting you about things to see. Thank you!
 
Hole_Courtney
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 7:11 am

A friend of mine is studying abroad this spring in Florence as well. She asked me to help her plan her trip there, as she didn't really know where to start.

You're flying from NY, so that's easier than her flying from IAH. But, nonetheless, she's flying into MXP, then taking a train to Florence. I've heard that Italian trains aren't exactly the best, but it seems much better than having to connect 3 or four times to get to Florence on a more expensive ticket. and rail travel is dirt cheap too, at least from Milano to Firenze.

So, there's my advice. Where's your friend studying? Mine is studying with the UNC-Chapel Hill programme.

live forever and stay beautiful,
hole_courtney
"[He] knew everything about literature, except how to enjoy it." - Yossarian, Catch 22
 
N1120A
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 7:45 am

Well, as far as Courtney goes, your friend can fly from IAH to AMS on CO and then transfer to Meridana to FLR. Only 1 connection. Also, KL flys the IAH-AMS route too, so you can try that as well.
Also, both of you can fly into PSA as well. Pisa airport is close enough to Florence that is is refered to as a florence airport. That way you can fly to LON on AA EWR and then fly BA to Italy. Courtney's friend can fly from IAH on AF, or CO to CDG and then AF to PSA. Just some options
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:31 am

My friend is with the Florida State University program. Maybe I'll see her there!
 
A330Fan1
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 11:57 am

Hey

I don't really know anything about getting to Florence, but once you're there -all I can say is, EAT ALL YOU CAN, because it's such good food and get the most you can while you're there. Everything tastes so good!

Have fun in Italy

-A330Fan1
 
wannabe
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 12:39 pm

If I were you, I would fly into FCO as you can get a major carrier and probably pretty reasonable prices. From FCO, you can take a train into the central station in Rome (Termini Station.) They leave every 30 minutes and are non-stop into Termini. It's about a 25 minute run. From Termini, there are two types of trains you can get; the standard city to city (Intercity) and a high speed (Eurostar) The Eurostar is more expensive, but is extremely comfortable, along with the experience of doing 180mph+ in a train! I have taken it to both Florence and Venice from Rome and it was well worth the price and the trip. You should make advance reservations in order to guarantee a seat.

Rome mass transit information can be found here;
http://www.nycerome.com/rome-city-guide/rome-subway-map.htm

Italian railway information can be found here:

http://www.fs-on-line.com/home/en/vv/viaggio_nazionali_home.html

Good luck....and if you've never been to Venice...take a side trip there. Well worth it. My favorite place in Italy.

Cio Smile
 
aerokiwi
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 3:07 pm

From my trip to Florence last year, I can recommend flying into Pisa, where I believe quite a few of the majors (and LCCs) fly into.

The train to Florence is regular, reliable (by Italian standards) and takes you right from the doorstep of Pisa Airport into the centre of FLorence, all in about 50 minutes. It's also a very cheap ride, only about 10-12 euros if I remember correctly.

From my research, you had to pay a premium to fly into Florence, which is in a valley I think, and so requires BAe 146s or other specialised aircraft that can handle the steep approaches (I think, anyway). Plus it would probably take/cost that much to get from Florence Airport into the city anyway. And you'd get to see a lot of lovely countryside on a train from Pisa.

So my advice - give Pisa a thought.
 
Qantas005
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Mon Dec 15, 2003 8:46 pm

I Love EWR
have you thought of flying to FCO then taking the train to Florence?

your missing so much of the beautiful countryside by taking a plane, it's well worth the trouble if you can do it this way.
 
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 6:42 am

If i were to fly into Pisa, my flight would leave at 7:15AM to get back home. I checked a few websites and found out that the trains don't seem to run that early to get from Florence to the Pisa airport.
 
richardw
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:14 am

Easy

CO EWR-LGW, BA LGW-PSA.
 
teva
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:14 am

I was about to suggest Pisa as well, but as per your reply, it doesn't fit in your schedule.
So, I wouldn't hesitate, and fly Meridiana.
As Aerokiwi told you, only few airlines fly to FLR, and with small modules, making it a little bit more expensive. But in all those regional carriers, I can tell you Meridiana is a good one, in will not disappear suddenly.
In the past, it belonged to the Aga Khan, and I think he is still a shareholder. So, you can be confident, buy your ticket and enjoyr your trip
Teva
Ecoute les orgues, Elles jouent pour toi...C'est le requiem pour un con
 
RiverVisualNYC
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:20 am

FLR Peretola is a really cool little airport for us enthusiasts and minutes from central Firenze by bus or taxi. I was there last year, no big lines for check-in or security, and I even had a chat in mixed Italian and English with the nice lady who works in the "bar," which sells everything from espresso to panini. It's a nice, relaxing small airport experience for those of us used to the big city TSA shuffle! So I would recommend it unless it's really that much cheaper to fly to Pisa (80km away I think) and take the train. Another option I have used is to take the Eurostar high speed train from Milano or Roma, but this only makes sense if you are already in Milano or Roma. I do concur with those who said the scenery is great. However you get there, Firenze is an awesome place and hope you enjoy it!
 
FoxBravo
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:22 am

Aerokiwi is right about Pisa being a less expensive option than FLR, but almost as convenient. However, given your early departure, and since it sounds like it will otherwise work well with your transatlantic schedule, I see no reason not to take Meridiana. I have not heard anything negative about their financial condition--just out of curiosity, are you asking because of something in particular you've read/heard/seen, or just because it's a smaller airline that you are less familiar with? If the former, then maybe one of our Italian friends here could shed more light on the subject. If the latter, don't worry--although I have not flown with them personally, they are a well established airline with a substantial operation at FLR.

In any event, FLR is a small, pleasant, and easy-to-navigate airport. The approach is steep and fun, with great views of the city. As for the city itself, it is one of my favorite places in the world. As others here have suggested, don't miss day trips to Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, and other nearby towns, and of course be sure to enjoy the food and wine!
Common sense is not so common. -Voltaire
 
teva
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:26 am

Eurostar is the train going under the Channel. And it is a registered trademark.
In Italy ,their fast trains use a different technology: they are pendular (and not as fast as TGV, Eurostar or ICE).
Teva
Ecoute les orgues, Elles jouent pour toi...C'est le requiem pour un con
 
RiverVisualNYC
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:30 am

Despite Teva's Gallic pride, there is very certainly a Eurostar Italia, which does not go under the English Channel but connects the major cities in Italy. You are welcome to read all about it at
http://www.fs-on-line.com/home/en/vv/viaggi_eurostar.html
 
SNBA319
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:33 am

@I LOVE EWR

you could try SN Brussels Airlines, they codeshare with AA on many routes within Europe. Many flights offered (and more) to FLR, BLQ, TRN, VCE, MXP, FCO! Starting may 2004 AA fly JFK-BRU (sorry for it being JFK!)

and SNBA fly BAE's and AVRO RJ's!! for FCO you will get the A319 Big grin

just a suggestion
 
meister808
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:40 am

Well, from everyone who is recommending taking the train from PSA so that you can see the countryside, keep in mind that, yes, the way into FLR by air is rather entertaining for the sightseer as well. The airport (and the city) are kind at the edge of some good hills, so the approach brings you pretty close to the countryside... I would say that I got a very good feel for the countryside from the air. Plus, the trip from CDG (and other airports to the NW, I would imagine) goes right over both the Alps and then the Italian Riviera, providing lots of scenery to watch on the way there.

About the city? Definitely eat a lot... find a nice little spot that does stone hearth, wood-fired pizza. That is a cultural experience... having authentic pizza, maybe with an authentic Italian beer or something. Aside from that, just take some time to wander the streets... Italy and Italians are great entertainment and you can meet a lot of people just by walking through the residential areas of the city.

Oh.. and another thing... I went to Pisa when I was there (in Florence) and I was very unimpressed. My aunt and uncle took the trip to Siena while they were in Florence, and they were very impressed and glad they went.

Good luck with the trip planning.

-Meister
Twin Cessna 812 Victor, Minneapolis Center, we observe your operation in the immediate vicinity of extreme precipitation
 
jrlander
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Ita

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:40 am

You should have no problem flying into Rome, taking the train through Termini, and being in Florence before 5. The nonstop flights from the NYC area get into FCO very early. I actually remember being in Florence by lunchtime the last time I did it. The last time I flew it took longer because of the connection in FCO!
 
SNBA319
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:48 am

two more things I forgot:

http://www.trenitalia.com
the muliti-lingual website for Italy's trains, very good to use. good train connections too, with credit card access everywhere, high speed Eurostar trains (no no the sub-channel ones) and slower snailtrains for better views and natural aircon.

PIZZA; for a real pizza you must visit NAPOLI, as it originated from there and og course not PISA Big grin
 
speedbirdyvr
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:56 am

I LOVE EWR,

What a shame that you won't have much time to explore other areas. I went to college in Switzerland for 4 years, and I've spent so much time driving around Italy, from the Lake District up North, to the Ligurian coast and Tuscany, all the way down to the Amalfi Coast. It is one of the most fascinating countries in Europe, and I hope you enjoy what little time you will be spending there. Let me know if you want some suggestions for a condensed sightseeing itinerary around Tuscany - most of my buddies come to me for advice on their trips.

As for flights, I agree with you that you should just buy a USA-LHR rt ticket, and purchase a separate intra-Europe flight. I've done this many times before and it always works out cheaper. I suggest you fly BD from LHR to LIN, and take the train to Florence. Their tix are so cheap now, it makes you wonder how they can afford the exorbitant fees at LHR. One advantage about this option is that you don't have to switch airports in London. And Linate is only 7km from Milano Centrale station (taxi is the fastest option) where there are trains every hour on the hour to Florence. Journey time from Milan to Florence is about 2 hours 45 minutes. You also get to see the beautiful Italian countryside.

If you choose to fly Meridiana direct to Florence, I can assure you that they'll be around for a while, at least until after your trip. I've flown them to Sardinia a few years ago, and they are a fine airline. They used to have financial backing from the Aga Khan, because he owned some resorts in Costa Smeralda (Sardinia), which are now part of the Starwood Luxury Collection. I'd say go for it - it doesn't get any more convenient than this option!

Let me know if you have any questions.
 
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 12:14 pm

Thank you all for your very imformative replies.

The reason I ask about Meridiana I never heard of them and I just was not sure how long they have been around. I would hate to book my ticket with them and then they go bankrupt for some reason leaving me trying to find other travel plans that might not be convient with my Transatlantic flight schedule.

The bad news is that I will not be in Italy for long. I truly wish I could stay longer as I am sure I will love it but, I guess I will just need to go back another time to enjoy it more when I have more time.

The good news is that Florence seems to be the college study-abroad destination that is IN so there will be tons of girls there my age  Laugh out loud. Another thing is that my friend's father is from Italy and he still has a lot of family there. He is planning on taking me to visit his families town so if I don't get to see the countryside getting to Florence, we will be making some daytrips that will allow me to take in more of the scenery.

Don't worry about me eating. I will have NO problem with that.

One other question how far is MXP from the Milano Centrale station. I figure I can fly BA into MXP for more AA miles.
 
speedbirdyvr
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:24 pm

MXP is about 30 miles from Milan Centrale, but by taxi which is quite expensive. If you take the train from the airport, it doesn't take you to Centrale, it drops you off at Milan Cadorna, which is still close to Centrale, but you may have to take a cab between the two stations if you have luggage.

FYI, BA also flies to LIN from LHR. It's worth checking it out if you can build a connection with their flight times.
 
VCE
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 7:48 pm

I give you 2 advises to get to Florence: or you fly to Pisa PSA (it's the Tuscany's main airport) and you can catch a train from Pisa Airport that goes directly to Florence (it's around 1h) or you can fly to Rome/FCO, you catch a train from Fiumicino to Termini Central Station and from there it's an Euro Star Italia every 20 min and it takes only 1h and 15min to get to Florence.
 
VCE
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 7:49 pm

Euro Star Italia is the Italian high speed train. It's very nice, modern and.. fast!
 
VCE
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:04 pm

Eurostar is the train going under the Channel. And it is a registered trademark.
In Italy ,their fast trains use a different technology: they are pendular (and not as fast as TGV, Eurostar or ICE).
Teva


Euro Star Italia is the official name of the Italian private company that owns the Italian High Speed Network. The Euro Star Italia SPA was founded before the opening of the Eurostar that goes under the Channel and anyway the pendular 'system' was the high speed train system of the '80s.
Since the beginning of the '90 the Euro Star Italia uses a train ETR450/500 designed by Pininfarina (the designer of Ferrari) and it has a speed of 280/300km/h. The new Euro Star ETR600 that will enter in service in 2005 and that will connect Milan to Rome will have a speed of 371km/h and it will be the European fastest high speed train. The 80% of the new Milan-Rome route will be in a viaduct because of the very high speed.
Anyway the Euro Star Italia is a very modern and elegant train also with Internet facilities (in the first class) and with an excellent restaurant on board.
 
gamarocchi
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RE: A Few Questions About Getting To Florence, Italy

Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:32 pm

Meridiana has been around for some years, but being an Italian airline which has most of its flights inside Italy, it's likely you have not heard about it.. Anyway, they had financial trouble last year but now seem over it. If you fly in March I would try them, I don't know what you will fly with though. Most of their fleet is MD80 but I am sure they also have some BAE 146 or AvroRJ.

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