getting to San Miniato from central Florence

In mid-May, we will be exploring central Florence attractions in and around Santa Croce and want to proceed up to San Miniato in time for evening vespers. I am having trouble finding details about bus service and route from around Santa Croce (on either North or South side of Arno River)on a weekday mid-afternoon. Will it be difficult to catch a bus from this area? Do buses #12 and/or #13 stop anywhere around that area? If so, how frequently on afternoons during the week? I am hoping we don't have to backtrack to the bus station to board. Also, any tips or other information you think is relevant to a late afternoon visit to see the view from Piazzale Michelangelo and hear the monks chanting at evening Vespers would be welcome! Thanks!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

We walked up there but I guess that doesn't work for everyone. I am not familiar with the bus system in Florence so can't help there, but I will say we saw buses going to Piazzale Michaelangelo. You could walk up from there if you can't find a bus all the way to San Miniato.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3293 posts

Ok Lola. Since my father worked for ATAF (Florence's City Bus Agency) all his life, so I guess it's my job to chime in on this one. First of all the distance can be walked from Piazza Santa Croce to the church in about 20 min. However it's uphill and it's a long sequel of long (not steep) steps, so I understand that some might find the effort too demanding. If you prefer the bus option, the bus for you is no. 13. You need to walk east from Santa Croce, the closest stop is probably in VIALE GIOVINE ITALIA at the corner with via Ghibellina, practically under the Headquarters of Florence Daily Newspaper "LA NAZIONE", across the street from the national Archives. From there the bus will turn left on LUNGARNO PECORI GIRALDI, in front of the Carabinieri big fortress and stop again there before crossing the SAN NICCOLO' BRIDGE and proceed up to Piazzale Michelangelo. No. 13 goes around the hill clockwise. Therefore to come back down (if you don't want to walk down) you take no. 12 instead, which goes the opposite direction. You get off at the first or second stop after crossing the Arno river (basically on viale Amendola on the other side of the Nat'l Archives) and walk back to Santa Croce (it's flat). As I mentioned if you can walk downhill walking back is probably faster.

Posted by Mary
Hobart, IN, USA
17 posts

Hi, Lola. thanks for your reply. Yes, I am aware you can walk up there. I had read it's all uphill, though, and we're senior citizens (spry but still old!) I guess I was concerned about a long walk uphill, & figured we could walk DOWNhill afterwards ok. Can you comment on what sort of walk UP you experienced? was it daunting? or an easy stroll? thank again for your ideas. Did you get to see/hear the Vesper service?

Posted by Mary
Hobart, IN, USA
17 posts

Roberto, I think you have answered me! So there IS/ARE stops close by. I need to find a good city map to see the streets/landmarks you mention, but I can be confident at least now that we can combine it on that afternoon. I assume #13 route is ok for weekdays in afternoons? and that the stops are not really more limited at those times? Thanks SO much!

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3293 posts

No need for good maps. You can use Google Maps, that's what the internet is for. Buses run all day from just after 6am until well past Midnight every day. Frequency ranges from every 15 min throughout the day to 20-25 min evenings (after 8pm) and night.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Roberto has given you great advice as usual! As for the walk, yes it is quite a bit uphill. We are seniors too, but we do a lot of hiking, and that walk didn't seem like much compared to hiking out of the Grand Canyon! Walking is what we love to do in Italy or elsewhere in Europe, so we do a lot of it. That particular day, we walked from our hotel near the Ponte Vecchio to the Giardino Bardini, up to the top, down through the Giardini Boboli, back to Giardino Bardini (we had an all-day ticket) and from the top, turned left, followed the path which dropped DOWN almost to the level of the river, then climbed up via steps and footpath (mostly away from traffic) to San Miniato al Monte. That was a great walk! The walk down, by the same path, is easy (not too steep for our creaky kneees, footing is good). We were too early for vespers, but it is a beautiful spot. We were surprised to find the Zeffirelli family burial ground there. I hope it is a long time before Franco Franco Zeffirelli joins them.

Posted by shirley
Toronto, Canada
295 posts

You can find the stops for routes 13 and 12 by going to www.ataf.net There is an English option - go to "timetables and routes" at the top of the homepage and go to route lists - then click on route 13 and click on "detailed route" There will be a map and a list of stops. Click on the stop (the one mentioned is stop number 14, Giovine Italia) and you will see it marked on the map. You can also use this website's trip planner to figure out how to get somewhere on the bus.

Posted by Mary
Hobart, IN, USA
17 posts

Thank you, Shirley - for the detailed directions in manipulating the ATAF site and the map! I have been playing with it and will continue to experiment to find a stop on that route that is more convenient to our hotel and sites we visit. I am concluding that the stop nearest to Santa Croce is not the most convenient since it backtracks AWAY from the direction we want to go. But your instructions on using the map to see the different stops were invaluable for me to decide at what point and which day to work in our trip up to Piazzale Michelangelo. Thanks for alerting me to the interactive map.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1139 posts

Mary, I'd suggest you give yourself 30 to 60 minutes before Vespers to enjoy the church and the view (which I think is nicer than P Michelangelo). And it's a good idea to bring some Euro coins to light the apse mosaic and sacristy ceiling; both are spectacular, but need lighting.

Posted by Mary
Hobart, IN, USA
17 posts

Sherry - Yes, we are indeed planning to time it so that we can hear the monks chant at Vespers. So the trip there is twofold, for the view and for the vespers. Did you visit at Vespers to hear the chanting? Thanks for the tip re: lighting. Any other tips?

Posted by Frank
Wilmington, DE
1475 posts

Once you get to Florence, you can get a map of the bus routes from the ATAF booth in the TI office across the plaza from the front of the train station. They're sometimes run out, but usually have them available if you ask.

Posted by Mary
Hobart, IN, USA
17 posts

Thanks Frank - that will be our first stop when we get off the train.

Posted by shirley
Toronto, Canada
295 posts

Mary - I'm glad you found the bus site useful. Bear in mind that the buses also have to deal with the increasingly large "limited traffic zone" in Florence. So some of the routes are getting kind of convoluted. Sometimes you may have to walk a bit to get to the right bus. If you are close to Santa Croce, there are a lot of buses stopping around Via Pietrapiana around the post office there. Don't forget to cancel your bus ticket when you get on. There are ticket checkers who get on and off the buses checking the tickets and the fines are hefty.