Arriving in Florence by train? Taking the train from Florence to Rome, Venice or Milan?
Here is my guide to Florence, Italy’s most important train station: Firenze Santa Maria Novella.
I have been taking trains in and out of Santa Maria Novella regularly for the past 15+ years I’ve lived in the Florence area.
Below, you’ll find out about:
- How to pronounce Firenze Santa Maria Novella station
- The station’s layout
- Amenities, like bathrooms (or lack thereof), luggage storage and shopping
- Taking a train from Florence Santa Maria Novella station
- Italy’s two train companies
- Where to buy tickets
- How to find your train
- Helpful Italian words and phrases to know when you’re traveling by train
Tutti a bordo? Andiamo! All aboard? Let’s go!
Table of Contents
ABOUT FLORENCE’S SANTA MARIA NOVELLA STATION
Florence’s main train station is called Firenze (Florence) Santa Maria Novella. Don’t worry, it’s not too hard to pronounce!
The pronunciation of Firenze Santa Maria Novella is: fee-REHN-tseh SAHN-tah mah-REE-ah noh-VEH-llah
Listen to how to pronounce Firenze Santa Maria Novella here:
59 million people go through the station every year. It was inaugurated in 1935, and is considered a gem of Italian Rationalist architecture.
Not your style? Don’t worry, Florence’s Gothic and Renaissance treasures start right outside. The station is named after the sumptuous Santa Maria Novella church, which is just a block away. In fact, the stark contrast between the modern station and its surroundings is just what the architects were going for. Florence’s world famous Duomo is just a 10-minute walk away.
Santa Maria Novella’s train tracks and main hall are right on street level on the east side of the station (across from the T1 Valfonda tram stop). On the west side, the street level is lower, so track level is up a flight of stairs from the street (and the T1 Alamanni tram stop).
Firenze Santa Maria Novella has a total of 19 tracks, running from west to east (left to right if you’re facing the tracks).
The main part of the station has tracks 5-16. A wing on the west side of the station has tracks 1, 1/A, 2, 3 and 4. Tracks 17 and 18 are in a wing on the east part of the station.
The station is closed from 1 to 4 am.
If you’re trying to make a train I recommend getting to Florence station with at least 15 minutes to spare, so you have time to navigate through the station and get to your track on time. Unfortunately, there isn’t good seating so the station isn’t a comfortable place for long waits.
Is Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station safe? Generally yes. Stay alert and aware– keep your head out of your phone.
AMENITIES AT FLORENCE SANTA MARIA NOVELLA STATION
This station is NOT a great place to use the bathroom. They’re few, far between, and you’ll need to pay (get your euro coin ready).
There is a bathroom in the west end of the station off of track 5.
To use the bathrooms in any of the stores at the train station, you need to buy something (and use a code on your receipt to access the bathroom).
There are also bathrooms downstairs in the shopping mall (galleria commerciale) under the station.
Keep in mind that bathrooms close at night after about 9 or 10 pm.
Luckily, Italy’s high speed trains generally have reliable bathrooms. In any case, I recommend being armed with tissues and hand sanitizer.
FOOD AND SHOPPING
If you do have a long time to wait for your train, there are plenty of places to have a coffee, a drink, or snack (gelato anyone?). At track level there are cafes, Venchi (a chocolate and ice cream store), a bookstore, and even makeup stores.
In the mall below the station, in addition to places to buy food and drinks, there are also clothing, shoe and gift stores.
Here is a complete list of the stores at Florence Santa Maria Novella.
If you want to leave your luggage at the station while you go explore Florence, there is a Kipoint luggage storage facility along track 16.
LOUNGES AND WHERE TO WAIT FOR YOUR TRAIN
Unfortunately, comfortable pickings are slim at Santa Maria Novella: in fact, there is no public seating in the main part of the station if you need to get off your feet and wait. A lot of people just suck it up and sit on the floor.
We usually try to get there about 15 minutes early, so we hopefully don’t have to wait too long.
However, there are two private lounges:
- The Freccia Lounge, located behind your left shoulder if you’re facing the tracks. Only Executive and Business Salottino ticket holders are allowed admittance (and members of Trenitalia loyalty programs). Sometimes during promotions, other Trenitalia Frecciarossa passengers can purchase a single entrance to the lounge.
Open 6:30 am to 9 pm
- The Italo Club Lounge, also located in the southwest part of the station on track level. Only Club Executive ticket holders and members of Italo loyalty programs can enter, but Smart and Prima ticket holders can buy an entrance ticket to the lounge.
Open 7:05 am to 9:05 pm
Santa Maria Novella station is in the heart of Florence. It’s just a 10 minute walk to the Duomo. Almost everything in Florence is within walking distance of the station!
If you’re heading farther afield in the city, catch a taxi in front of the station to the left (with the tracks at your back).
There is both T1 and T2 tram service from the Florence train station. You can take the T2 line to Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci (Peretola) airport.
Florence has extensive bus service around the city, and several lines stop at Santa Maria Novella. Catch the 7 bus to Fiesole on Via Nazionale (on the east side of the station).
The bus station for regional buses going to Chianti and Siena is around the corner from the train station on Via Caterina da Siena 17.
HOW TO TAKE A TRAIN FROM FLORENCE’S SANTA MARIA NOVELLA STATION
ITALIAN TRAIN OPERATORS
In Italy there are two railway operators to choose from:
- Trenitalia is the Italian state train company. It is part public and part private-owned, and runs throughout Italy. It has both regular regional trains, and high speed service– called Frecciarossa, Frecciargento and Frecciabianca.
- Italo is a private railway company that has been operating since 2012. It has high speed service to select major and strategic cities only.
Regional Trenitalia trains will take you to Italy’s smaller towns and cities, whereas Trenitalia high speed trains and Italo are best for traveling to major cities like Rome, Venice and Milan.
Full disclosure: After riding Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa for years to go between major cities like Florence, Rome and Milan, I’ve converted to Italo. I’ve found their prices to be consistently better. Look out for promo codes on their home page.
WHERE TO BUY TICKETS
Florence S.M.Novella has ticket offices, but I recommend buying your tickets online or at the ticket machines.
The most convenient way to buy tickets for both Trenitalia and Italo is online. On the internet you’ll find many sites selling train tickets: I’m a fan of using the official Trenitalia and Italo websites.
You don’t need to print your tickets out. Simply show the conductor the ticket on your phone when you get on board, and they’ll scan the QR code.
Since high speed tickets at both companies include a reservation, specific train and seat number, it is not necessary to validate or stamp your ticket before you get on the train (like you used to!).
AT TICKET MACHINES
If you don’t have time to buy a ticket online in advance, don’t worry. You can buy a ticket at one of the station’s many ticket machines.
There is a large bank of Trenitalia machines in a large hall in the middle entrance to Santa Maria Novella station. Italo machines are scattered there and in other parts of the station.
Don’t worry if you don’t speak Italian– you can choose English on the opening menu.
I’ve found that for short trips, riding the basic class level (Standard on Trenitalia, Smart on Italo), is perfectly comfortable.
However, you may want to spring for more privacy, a quiet section, more space and other perks.
On Trenitalia the travel classes are (from basic to most luxurious):
- Quiet Business (Business Area Silenzio)
- Business Salottino
On Italo they are (from basic to most luxurious):
- Club Executive
Keep in mind: If you want to take advantage of Trenitalia or Italo’s private station lounges free of charge, you need to purchase a Business Salottino or Executive ticket (on Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa), or a Club Executive ticket (on Italo).
FINDING YOUR TRAIN
To find the track where your train will be departing from, look for the big black and orange digital boards labeled Partenze (Departures). There are also monitors around the station.
Usually your track will only be posted about 10 minutes before departure.
Your train will be labeled according to its final stop, for example Milano Centrale.
Any delays are posted on these boards, with approximately how many minutes the train is running late.
Listen as well for announcements about your destination.
Remember, the station has a total of 19 tracks, running from west to east (left to right if you’re facing the tracks).
GETTING ON THE TRAIN
Once you know what track to head to, check your ticket for your carrozza (carriage) and posto (seat number).
On the side of each train car, the carrozza (carriage) number is labeled by the door at both the front and back. Some Frecciarossa cars also tell you which seat numbers are closest to that door.
If your train hasn’t arrived yet, look up. Some platforms have signs posted above you lined up to where each car will be.
HELPFUL WORDS AND PHRASES
Keep your ears open: you’ll hear these words and phrases all around you when you’re at Firenze Santa Maria Novella station.
|The train||Il treno|
|The station||La stazione|
|The track/platform||Il binario|
|The train car||La carrozza|
|First class||Prima classe|
|The bathroom||Il bagno|
|The suitcase||La valigia|
|The stop||La fermata|
|High speed||Alta velocità|
|Where is the station?||Dov’è la stazione?|
|Where is the bathroom?||Dov’è il bagno?|
|Where is track 5?||Dov’è il binario otto?|
|Where are the taxis?||Dove sono i taxi?|