Is the car rental business back on airport property?
No. The car rental center is still across the A11 freeway on Via Palagio degli Spini, a short distance away covered by the shuttle bus. Although near the terminal,, do not attempt to walk the short distance as it implies walking on roadways where a sidewalk is not available.
The car rental center has been spruced up a bit last year, I understand.
Since the new airport expansion approval process is on hold in the courts due to NIMBY’s, environmentalists’, and local municipalities’ lawsuits, I don’t expect changes anytime soon.
Thanks for the update.
I found out the rental car center was totally renovated in late 2019, therefore I presume that location is permanent even if one day the new longer runway and the airport expansion will actually become reality (which I personally doubt given the strong opposition by NIMBY groups and even by the City of Sesto Fiorentino, in which territory most of the new planned airport grounds will be located).
Am dropping off our car 2 days before we leave and exploring Florence. Are there taxis or buses available from the car rental area?
I’m not sure about buses (you might have to go back to the terminal for those) but taxis are definitely available, at the taxi stand at the facility or you can ask the car rental agents to call one for you. If you have luggage with you I recommend a taxi.
The tram at the Florence airport will take you into the center of the city (SMN Train station) for 1.50 euro. If you don't have a ton of luggage, it's very convenient. There are ticket machines near the track beside the airport exit. Ticket is good for 90 minutes so you would be able to take the tram to the train station and then perhaps take a bus if you want. You could even store any luggage at the train station....super easy.
I vote for the tram.
It leaves just across from the airport along a walkway, and arrives at Florence's main train station.
I used it in Sept. 2019.