Useful Info

Finding a villa to stay at is just the first step. What about hotels and airlines, passports and cellular phones? We've got information on all of the above

Helpful Hints
Want to know where you can access the internet while abroad? Have questions about grocery shopping? Want to know how to make an international call? Click here to find lots of helpful advice.

Taking a Train:

If you are planning to take the train anytime, the Italian state website (click eng. at the top) or try the newere site - is very useful for checking times for your trips. It is best to book your train once there - but this site will allow you to plan your departure and arrivals, and confirm travelling time.

or if you want to book in advance use

Food shops in Florence, Supermarkets in Florence:

Do you want to know where to shop for food in Florence? Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Food shops are divided into various categories – there the lovely large food markets in Florence, - such as the Mercato Centrale, near the famous San Lorenzo market ( where you will surely want to go and buy gifts – pashmina’s leather goods and so much more); Sant’ Ambrogio – the famous Florence food market; then there are the small neighbourhood shops – specializing in only market goods, ( fresh vegetables, fruits, and some dry goods, or only dairy and famr products ( cheeses, milk, yogurts etc). and then there are supermarkets in Florence – not as big as north American food markets, but the same range of products.
Food stores in Florence have have varying  hours vary from shop to shop. As a general rule, shops open daily at 8:30 A.M. and close during the lunch hours, approximately from 12:30 P.M. - 3:30 P.M., re-open in the afternoon until 7:30 P.M. Traditional food stores are open Monday - Saturday and closed Wednesday afternoon and Sunday.
Mercato Centrale
The Mercato Centrale (Central Market), located near the church of San Lorenzo, provides another interesting and traditional way to shop for food. The market consists of hundreds of individual stands. Downstairs, there are separate stands for meat, cheese, bread, chicken, canned goods, pasta, wine, and oil; upstairs are the stands for fruits and vegetables. The market, offering fresh items at reasonable prices.
The Mercato Centrale is open Monday - Saturday from 7:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.. From September 15 - June 15, it also opens Saturday afternoon from 4:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.. It is closed Sundays and holidays.
Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio
Another excellent market with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, breads, and cheeses is the Mercato Sant'Ambrogio in Piazza Ghiberti. This market is smaller than the Mercato Centrale, and therefore a little less chaotic. The quality of the food is very high, and many of the vendors at this market are genuine farmers who bring their produce to the city to sell.
The Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio is open Monday - Saturday from 7:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.. It is closed Sundays and holidays.
If you prefer to do your shopping in larger stores, there are three different supermarket chains in Florence: Esselunga, Margherita Conad, and Standa. The larger supermarkets do not close for lunch. Among the usual things found in an American supermarket, they also have fresh breads, cheeses, pasta, and some prepared meals.
Via Pisana 130/132, (055 706 556). Bus 6, 12, 13.
Open Monday to Friday 8:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M., Saturday 7:30 A.M. - 8:30 P.M. and selected Sundays
A wide variety of general groceries, housewares, personal hygiene products and newspapers.
Margherita Conad
Via L Alamanni 2/10r (Railway Station)
Open Monday - Tuesday, Thursday - Saturday 8:00 A.M. - 7:30 P.M.
Open Wednesday 8:00 A.M. - 1:00 P.M.
Small mini-market, it can be expensive but often convenient.

La Standa
Via Pietrapiana 42/44 (Santa Croce/Sant'Ambrogio)
Open Monday - Saturday 8:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M.
Open Sunday 9:00 A.M. - 1:30 P.M. and 3:30 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.
Not as large as the Esselunga but carries a good variety of items

Tips for Grocery Shopping in Italy
The shopping cart:

  • Insert a €2 coin into the slot located on the red lock to release the cart, refunded on return

The produce section:( vegetables & fruits)

  • You must use the mandatory plastic gloves that are provided for handling the fruits and vegetables.
  • After you choose your produce, you are responsible for sealing the bag and then weighing it yourself. BE SURE TO DO THIS! otherwise you have to run back from the checkout,embarassing!
  • Place the produce on the computerized scales (located in the produce section, not at the checkout) and press the button corresponding to the item you are weighing. The scale then prints a price sticker that you place on the bag for checkout.

The delicatessen and bakery section:

  • Take a number and wait your turn. A large digital display over the counter shows the number they are currently serving. Order your quantity, or point to what you want using sign language for quantity and size; Deli products usually ordered by weight - ie 100 grams...

Checking out:

  • Place your items on the conveyor belt and use the cliente succesivo (the customer divider bar).
  • You must purchase your grocery bags from the cashier or bring your own bags or backpacks.
  • You are responsible for bagging your own groceries.
  • If you are doing big shopping you can ask the people at the courtesy desk to call you a taxi.