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Transportation logistics

Late June, we are visiting Italy for the first time as a family. There will be four of us, including my spouse and “adult” (18/21) children. For better or worse, we are locked into one hellish travel day and then the prospect of repeating part of that hellish travel day. I am looking for some help figuring out how to string together transportation. 10 days total. 6 nights in Tuscany, 3 nights in Venice.

We will fly into Venice overnight nonstop arriving about 9am.

Then must get to the Venice main train station.
Then train to Florence.
Rent car.
Drive to house about an hour west of Florence.

Drive to Florence, return car
Train to Venice

DAY 10
8AM flight home….Transport from Venice to airport.

1. Should we take shuttle or taxi to train station? Do we need to book shuttle in advance? What about flight delays?
2. Do we need to book high speed train to Florence in advance, or can we get a ticket when we get there?
3. How much time should we account for customs + shuttle
4. Can we buy a meal on the train? We will all be hangry.
5. Upon arrival in Florence, shall we take some time to mosey around or get the car. I haven’t booked the car yet because ai can’t figure out what our pickup time will be given all the variables that precede the car. Suggestions? Is there some flexibility with SixT or autoeurope in the pickup times? (We arrive on a Saturday)
6. Question 5 relates to our return as we have to check out of Airbnb, then drive to Florence, then train to Venice. And I need to provide a time to return the car.
7. On our last day, we will have to check out of our Airbnb early (Plan on Covid test night before). How much time will we need to plan for transportation to airport, how should we get there, and how early should we get there?

Thanks in advance.


Posted by
597 posts

Have you already booked airfare? It's always best to fly MultCity when in Europe - like Fly into Venice and out of Rome or Florence - that way you don't waste precious time going back to Venice and the price isn't usually any different. We always fly into Venice and back home from either Rome or Naples depending on our itinerary.

We always get train tickets 6-3mo out for best price. Def check out for great train info.

Also get the Rick Steves book EUROPE THROUGH THE BACK DOOR - on this site, or sometimes cheaper on Amazon. It is a MUST read for any Europe travel - tons of info on trains, debit cards, how to get cash out, no foreign transaction fee CC, and also great info on all the countries.

Trains and the train station will have lots of food options. Best to get the food at the station before boarding for better variety.

Try and change your flights - into Venice and out of Florence.

Posted by
2741 posts

4 Can we buy a meal on the train? We will all be hangry.

Even before covid, nobody ate Trenitalia's food and everybody bought their own sandwiches and wine/ beer before getting on the trains.

Anyway, on click the little " i " next to the train # to see if they sell "food" on that train. Most times there will be a rolling cart selling something around 13:00 .

It's the Same on, if I am not wrong.

Posted by
21709 posts

Why are you flying into Venice and then training to Florence? Huge amount of backtracking and expense. What is your flight schedule? None of this makes much sense but unfortunately you asking for advice much too late for us to have much of an impact.

Posted by
4455 posts

Hi Julie,

  1. There’s a bus about every 15 minutes that goes from the Venice airport to the bus station, Venice Piazzale Roma. It’s less than a 10-minute walk to the Venice Santa Lucia train station. OR, you could take a bus or taxi to the Venice Mestre train station to go to Florence.
  2. I would just buy the train tickets when you get there since there’s always some unknowns on travel day.
  3. I don’t remember any food places at the Venice airport.

One thought - you will have a long travel day, and you are planning to finish it by driving an hour. Just consider whether it will be safe for one of you to be driving a car being that tired with jet lag. You might want to pick up the car and stay near the car rental and start out fresh the next morning.

Posted by
3262 posts

Haven't been post covid, but to the best of my memoryou

There is regularly scheduled bus service to Venice Mestre every 30 min. The bus station is a short walk to the Mestre train station.
A taxi would likely cost nearly the same as 4 people taking the bus. Neither would require a reservation or be affected by delays.

Booking in advance might get you a discounted fare, but that's no good whatsoever if you miss the train the ticket is for. Unless you want to be quite conservative and book tickets for at least 4 hours after you are due to arrive (and even that is a gamble if your flight is outright cancelled), then you're better off buying your tickets on arrival. JMO

Best case scenario with carryon only - an hour. Worst case- 2 hours or more. Too many variables to be precise.

Do yourselves a favor and buy food at the train station to eat on the train.

You are all going to be jet lagged to one extent or another. Forget sight seeing stops if someone has to drive; which will only worsen the fatigue for the driver. Get to where you are going so everyone can relax from an exhausting trip. And everyone else has to ensure the drive doesn't fall asleep at the wheel. I'm absolutely serious about that.

Be aware that the rental agencies may close early on weekends. Double check their hours.

A return time should be easy. Find out what time they open. Figure out how long it will take you to drive there, then add a bit if time in case you take a wrong turn somewhere.

Early morning flights are problematic from Venice. How long it takes depends on where your Airbnb is located. How early you have to be there depends on the airline. It may be 2 hours, but it could be 3. Check with your airline. How to do it depends on how much money you want to spend. The fastest and most expensive is a water taxi booked in advance and takes a little over half an hour. The least expensive is the night vaporetto to Piazzale Roma and a bus (or vaporetto and land taxi if the buses haven't started running yet). Could take about an hour or more. You'd need to tell us where your Airbnb is located for us to help with times.

ETA: I have to agree that your choices of flights have made your trip much harder than it has to be. Flying into Venice and home from Florence or Rome would have made things much, much easier.

Posted by
7 posts

CJean — we are staying in Cannaregio— middle of that section. I think I can also ask our Airbnb owner for transportation suggestions given our departure time.

Getting food at the train station is a good tip.

Others…As for why we are in/out of Venice…it was cheaper than other locations at the time we booked. So now we live with the consequences. I realize this is a less than ideal travel arrangement…just trying to minimize uncertainty and anxiety to make the best of it.


Posted by
3363 posts

If there is no way you can change the flight then it might be simpler and would certainly be safer to take 1 night from your Tuscany stay and give it to Venice for your arrival night. That first day as you have it is not going to be pleasant, a total wash really.

You might even consider staying 1 night in Venice then rent your car there and just drive to your Tuscany lodgings. Not a fun or scenic drive but eliminates a whole lot of hassle. And none of your potential drivers will be jet lagged

Or train to Florence and spend first night there
Rent your car as you leave next am

Or add night at the beginning of trip and change the dates of your flight. A lot of airlines have done away with change fees.

Either way be sure that ALL drivers have an IDP, the rental agency will ask for it.
And be sure all drivers are familiar with the rules of the road- ZTLs, speeding cameras. parking, etc.

Posted by
2077 posts

We have stayed in the Cannaregio area of Venice several times and love the peace, quiet, and beauty of the area .

One issue you should address is having a Plan B for that first day if your connections don't work out. We have done two international trips since covid, and both outgoing flights had significant delays. The Sept, 2021, flight was canceled entirely, after a four hour delay, at 10PM- so had 24 hours in Chicago, and we lost the first night of our trip in Switzerland. Our recent April, 2022, flight was delayed 4-5 hours [the pilot tested positive for covid] , so we missed out connection in Heathrow. There was another connection out that day, but we didn't arrive in Munich until around 11pm. Thankfully we weren't transiting further until the next day.

Would you consider spending the first day in Venice, just in case of flight delays? Air travel post-covid has become unpredictable, with flight cancelations and delays. And- driving would be much safer on the second day.

In either case, have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
1767 posts

Day 1:
Why not rent the car from the Venice airport and drive straight to your rental west of Florence???
It solves almost every one of your questions and the Auto Grill and similar highway stops in Italy actually have good food.

Going from the airport to a train station with bags, then waiting for a train to Florence, where you have to walk with bags to the rental car place a few blocks away, etc...
Not to mention it is easy to drive out from the Venice airport, it is a little more involved to drive out of Florence near the train station. I have done, it was not hard but you need your wits with you due to ZTL concerns and traffic which you may not have after all of that above.
With bags I would much rather get my car and head off right away. In the morning after the flight you will not feel great, but you likely will have some energy landing in a new country as the day goes on you will lose that.

Of course many will recommend a night in Venice to avoid the driving after an overnight flight.