New face for SMN station

Drop off your dry cleaning before you go

Georgette Jupe-Pradier
February 2, 2012

With train stations in Naples and Rome now modernized, the national railway company, Ferrovie dello Stato, is continuing in its effort to revamp another main transportation hub in Italy: Florence's Santa Maria Novella (SMN) station. Although the station, with the status of national landmark, will keep its original style designed by Giovanni Michelucci in 1934, most agree it was due for a nip and tuck. Georgette Jupe tells us how the Ferrovie dello Stato envisions Florence's main station for the 21st century.



Work has already begun at Florence's central train station, Santa Maria Novella, as part of an extensive, 15-million-euro project designed to upgrade the station and facilitate transportation for the 160,000 passengers who pass through the hub daily and the 59 million who travel through yearly. The work includes the area around the station, as well.


With 35 workers at the construction site day and night, the Ferrovie dello Stato is aiming for completed work by autumn 2012. Once finished, the station will extend over two levels and feature an underground shopping mall, an escalator connecting the main hall of the station to the underground parking lot, a two-storey bookshop, a luggage drop-off service, dry cleaning services, and space in the underground parking lot for 700 bicycles.


All of the original marble and decorative elements of the station will be cleaned and polished. The main hall and area in front of the ticket office will be transformed into waiting rooms for those who travel on the high-speed train lines, the Freccia Rossa and the soon-to-be launched private, high-speed train line headed by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, called Italo.


There will be new services. Florence's baggage deposit will be part of a nationwide pilot project: no longer just a place to store luggage, it will also boast dry-cleaning services for frequent travelers and allow tourists to ship packages and luggage anywhere in the city and to other train stations throughout Italy. Still under discussion, however, is whether wifi service will be made available throughout the station.


Part of the project's aim is to rejuvenate the station's outdoor surroundings, too. Locals can expect to see an iris garden in front of the station in 2013, while bike racks and parking for scooters will be moved to the underground parking lot. A ‘kiss and ride' area for quickly pick-up and drop-off will be located at the current taxi stand, while the taxis and buses will have a special designated area.


Officials are also discussing ways to help the homeless, many of whom sleep outside the station's entrance in front of Piazza Adua. Because of the new shops and restaurants opening along that same space, the City is working to find a more suitable facility to shelter them.


While the new look for SMN will debut in late 2012, locals and travelers will have to wait until early 2013 for the opening of all of the new stores. Underneath what is currently the waiting room, restaurant and pharmacy, the existing shopping gallery will be expanded. New additions include a two-storey Feltrinelli bookshop, which will replace the restaurant and McDonald's (to be relocated to the track 16 area, along with an Autogrill eatery). Some of the stores coming to the underground shopping mall are Nike, Mango and Fiorella Rubino, as well as the supermarket Conad.

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