Line One: approved

Tram 1 finally hits the tracks

Jack Land, Brenda Dionisi
February 25, 2010

Fifty-two years after the last tram departed in Florence, and after years of controversy over the new public transit system, it seems the city is finally smiling.

 

 When the Sirio tram made its inaugural departure at 6:30am on February 14 from Florence's Via Alamanni Station, drivers Alessio Fabbri and Daniela Bargelli were the first to steer the new Tramvia. They were accompanied by Florence mayor Matteo Renzi; Serge Reynaud, president of Gest, the firm that will manage Line 1; and hundreds of curious locals.

 

 Before leaving via Alamanni, Renzi said ‘It gives us a great feeling of satisfaction. We were able to inaugurate the Tramvia on Valentine's Day, an act of love for the city.' Meanwhile, Giovanni Mantovani, the engineer at Palazzo Vecchio who headed the Tramvia project, popped a bottle of spumante to celebrate.

 

 At the same moment, another Sirio tram departed from Scandicci. In addition to the mayor of Scandicci, Simone Gheri, the tram was filled with Scandicci locals and a group of American students.

 

 When the two vehicles crossed paths at Piazza Batoni, the mayors shook hands and had a coffee. Despite the controversy launched a few days prior over the 9.7 million euro that the city of Scandicci allegedly owes Palazzo Vecchio for the Tramvia' s construction, the two mayors agreed that it was ‘an important moment for both cities.'

 

 According to estimates, some 40,000 locals from Scandicci and Florence rode the Tramvia on its first day in service.

 

 However, not everyone was happy with the arrival of the new tram: protesters were scattered along via Alamanni. The disabled complained about the difficulty of getting on and off the Sirio, workers from Seves protested job cuts, No-TAV protesters picketed, and locals protested the potholes on via Faenza.

 

 But in the face of demonstrations, one couple stood out for their positive message about the new transit system: they took the tram to their wedding ceremony at Palazzo Vecchio.

 

 

DISCOVER T1 Travel the stations and stops of Line 1 

Alamanni  Station

In Florence, the new 7.4-kilometer ‘T1' begins and ends in via Alamanni, at the side entrance of Santa Maria Novella train station. Making 14 stops, it arrives in Scandicci in 23 minutes. When it is on full operation, the average waiting time will be three minutes, 20 seconds; wait times will be visible on the LED displays at each new Tramvia stop. The covered and well-illuminated stops will also be equipped with ticket machines. Ataf and Li-nea tickets are also valid for the Tramvia. 

 

Porta al Prato / Leopolda

The first T1 stop is Firenze Porta al Prato, where regional trains for Empoli depart every hour. The future Parco della Musica and Cultura, which is still in the planning phase, will be located near this station. It will be a large complex dedicated to music and lyrical opera, as well as the new home of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

 

 Next to the current Stazione Leopolda building, on the same street and boasting a large colonnade, is a multifunctional building that hosts both public and private events throughout the year, including Vintage Selection, the vintage fair that takes place every January and July; the Taste food fair held in every March; the experimental theatrical retrospective, Fabbrica Europa, held each May; and the Nextech festival of electronic music held each September. For a complete calendar of events at the Leopolda Station, see http://www.stazione-leopolda.com/.

 

Cascine Park

Le Cascine are the city's green lungs, characterized by large thoroughfares and a vast green area delimited by woodlands. Cascine Park includes a public swimming pool, sports complex, horse race track and stables, discos, and the Agrarian Faculty of the University of Florence and the Scuola Militare Aeronautica.

 

 On sunny afternoons, Cascine Park is crowded with locals, who go here to take walks, play games and have picnics. One of Florence's most well-known local events takes place here, the festa del grillo, or the Feast of the Cricket, on Ascension Day. In the past, crickets were captured in these fields and sold in small, colorful cages.

 

Since a 1999 municipal regulation, however, only artificial crickets can be sold.

 

 Florentines, expats and even visitors use the streets and pathways through the park for walking or jogging. Then largest market in Florence, the Cascine Market, runs from 8am to 2pm every Tuesday along the Arno. Among the numerous stands that extend along via Lincoln, shoppers can find such things as fruit, vegetables and other foods; clothing; leather goods; flowers; housewares; antique furniture and objects; artisanal products, even some high-quality pieces.  

 

Paolo Uccello, Sansovino, Batoni, Alenti, Federiga, Arcipressi

Connected to the city centre by the new bridge across the Arno, it is now much easier for cyclists to travel to Casine Park, to the limited traffic zone and the larger network of cycle lanes throughout the city. From the centre of the city, cyclists have direct access to the Ciclopista sull' Arno, the cycle lane is along the banks of the Arno in the Isolotto area; they also have direct access to the new cycle lane along viale Talenti.

 

This part of the city, which is principally residential, boasts several neighbourhood shops and services along the Tramvia line. Among the most noteworthy are the Hertz car rental (at the Sansovino stop), a bricolage store, a shopping centre and supermarket (at the Talenti stop), and the very well stocked fish store, called Iliopesca (at the Federiga stop).  

 

Nenni / Torregalli

The Tramvia stops in front of the Ponte a Greve shopping centre, which is open Monday to Saturday, from 8:30am to 8:30pm and the last Sunday of the month. In addition to a Coop supermarket, the immediate area has some 20 shops selling electronics, housewares and clothing; a pharmacy; a post office; and coffee bars. The shopping centre is the site of dance lessons, artistic events and exhibitions, food and wine tastings, public debates-all organized by local residents and associations. A free lending library also features readings for both Monday afternoon readings for adults and children. For more information on events in Ponte a Greve shopping centre, call 055/7323081. 

 

Aldo Moro, Resistenza, De André, Villa Costanza

Scandicci is a residential city that expanded in the 1960s. Over the last few years, the city has grown, especially along the T1. This is where new development headed by the English architect Richard Rogers will be located.

 

 To reach the Scandicci city centre, get off at the Resistenza stop. The centre has numerous squares, and most of its many shops are owned and run by local families. Generally shops are open from 9:30am to 1pm and 3:30pm to 7pm, but closed on Monday mornings.

 

Take the next stop to reach the pedestrian area along via Pascoli and the large squares, Piazza Togliatti and Piazza Matteotti. Surrounded by a wealth of shops, Piazza Togliatti is the home of the Scandicci's Saturday market, open from 8am to 6pm. Among the many stands, shoppers will find clothing and shoes; housewares; and locally grown and produced foods, including a wide selection of vegetables, beans and cheeses.

 

 Located in the middle of the square is the youth centre Gingerzone, open from Wednesday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm; some evenings events are held from 10pm. on. The nearby Piazza Matteotti is the home of the antique fair, Fiera Antiquaria, which boasts some 50 exhibitors, on the last Saturday and Sunday of each month except July and August.

 

 On the opposite side of the residential area, along via Pantin, is the Castello dell' Acciaiolo complex established by the Rucellai family in the fourteenth century. Originally built for military purposes, today, together with the adjacent park, it is one of the most important cultural centres in Scandicci. The park hosts a variety of cultural events in the summer. Inside the castle is one of the many outposts of the important Florentine fashion institute, Polimoda, as well as the Slow Food Scandicci association, which runs the Da Bobo all' Acciaiolo restaurant. Here, restauranteurs pride themselves on the use of locally grown produce and foods and a traditional Tuscan menu, and they proudly explain the food distribution process and the theory of ‘slow food.' The restaurant is also the site of many events, including art exhibits and food markets selling certified local products. The restaurant is open Monday to Saturday, for dinner only, from 7pm; however, it may be open at other times: call 055/7351620, 346/8857447 or email info@acciaioloslow.it to reserve a table.   

 

 On the parallel street, via Donizetti, is the Teatro Studio, a local venue for experimental theatre. It also features a library and music school. For information, visit http://www.scandiccicultura.it/

 

Ataf recently announced that the routes for the electric buses serving the historic city centre have been further modified. For details, a map and timetables, see http://www.ataf.net/ or http://www.muoversiafirenze.it/. 

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