After three great days of driving around the Tuscan hill towns, we returned our Fiat to Siena and took the next bus up to Florence. As we’ve started doing more often now, we arrived without having any accommodations lined up. Instead – we found a neighborhood in our guidebook that looked appealing (in this case “Oltrarno”), and then walked over there and checked out the places recommended in our guidebook. The hostel (the cheapest option) looked uninviting, so we went with a nearby budget hotel run by the church instead. It was great – our room had a large window overlooking a courtyard, and even a small loft. Not bad for a two star hotel!
We enjoyed the neighborhood a lot as well. Oltrarno is situated on the south side of the river that runs through Florence, across from the north side which contains most of the sights (and tourists). What the neighborhood lacks in sights, it makes up for in local restaurants and bars. It even has a morning market in its main square. Definitely a good place to stay!
As far as sightseeing, we did the usual Florence stuff. We checked out the Duomo (an enormous church with an impressive white façade), as well as the Uffizi gallery, a large Renaissance art museum. We also spent a lot of time simply wandering around town, people watching, and looking into the windows of fancy stores. With only a day and a half in town, it was an admittedly brief visit, but still a great time.