Florence: Which neighborhood is right for your trip?
People are always asking me for pointers on where to stay in Florence. If casa Marc is available then hey, no problem. Otherwise, here are the neighborhoods I suggest when choosing a hotel:
Steps from the Station: Santa Maria Novella
I know a guy who always insists on picking hotels near train stations to save money on transport. In Florence, that would be the Santa Maria Novella area. It’s not a bad hood, just noisy, packed, and goes from super clean to dirty. Florence is a small walkable city. No need to stay strapped to the station.
The Other Side: Oltrarno
Florence is sliced in half by the Arno. The south side opposite the train station is called Oltrarno – which literally means “beyond the Arno.” Think narrow streets with artisans in their workshops, working away like they did hundreds of years ago. Makes for good window peeking and quiet evening walks with a gelato in your hand. There are lots of little bars and restaurants in nearby Piazza Santo Spirito. Oltrarno is where I go when I want to slow down. Well, slow down even more.
Rental Road: Ognissanti
Also near the station is the Ognissanti neighborhood. This one’s a little tricky. I call the main street “rental road” on account of the legions of car rental agencies, internet cafes and long-distance phone cabooses. There are plenty of hotels – which I’m sure are okay, just know that Via dell’Arbero can get pretty chaotic in the evenings.
And now for choosing a hotel in Santa Croce – big fan over here. Aside from its piazza and mighty basilica at the center, this zone is within walking distance to all the major sites minus the vortex of tourists that forever swirls around the Duomo. There are also leather shops galore, restaurants and souvenir stores. And the Arno is only a few blocks away to be strolled down and admired.
Actually, a word on river strolls: Make sure to watch the sun setting over Ponte Vecchio. Bellissimo!
So you want the vortex do you? Okay, welcome to the center of the Renaissance universe: the Duomo district. Tons of hotels, museums, fountains, restaurants, souvenir shops, outdoor markets and every other Florence tourist amenity taking up half the guidebook in your pocket. Enjoy!
To see a list of all the neighborhood’s covered by EuroCheapo’s hotel picks, click here.