After our last article on the various monuments in Italy that you must see, we’re going to give you a rundown of various “Quartieri” (neighborhoods), so this way you’ll get a better understanding of what the various cities have to offer and where you can find an apartment to rent in Italy. We’ll start in our beloved Florence, cause we can’t get enough of it and we know you can’t either.
The area we’ll be taking into consideration today is the magnificent Florence Oltrarno. Once the outskirts of Florence, the area was occupied by various merchants that would use Florence as a stopping point on their way to Rome. A pilgrimage that you can also go on today following the Via Francigena (we’ll talk about it more in depth another time).
Historically the area remained a rest point until the Pitti family, in the ‘400, began their construction of the now famous Palazzo Pitti, and once the area began to receive the attention of the various noble houses of Florence, it saw the arrival of the Medici’s in 1550. The Medici, being the reigning family, involuntarily made all the upper classes move to this area, so to be close to the center of power.
Even though the majority of power moved to the area, this didn’t bring about chaos to the area, and this can still be seen to this day, when going on an Oltrarno walk around some of the isolated streets of Oltrarno Florence, you can still breathe an authentic Florentine lifestyle.
Oltrarno walk: 5 areas
Now lets divide the area in 5 macro areas: Palazzo Pitti, Santo Spirito, San Frediano, Porta Romana, and Piazzale Michelangelo.
Once the residential palace of the Medici family, Palazzo Pitti, is today probably best renowned for its wide front space where you can relax with friends after a long day while having a panino, and also known for it being the entrance to the Boboli Gardens. Florence’s historical and majestic garden, I mean it’s just amazing how when you’re in there you get a glimpse of what life most of been as a Renascence gardener (I mean no way I was a noble back in the day). I mean it’s just a unique experience. The area apartment-wise is usually quite pricey, but hey you might find a steal deal.
Once past Palazzo Pitti, you’ll find yourself at a fork in the road. One street brings you to Porta Romana, that we’ll take into account in a couple of paragraphs, and the other towards Santo Spirito. This area is a great location for that hipster vibe, it’s a bit of the Greenwich village of Florence, lot’s of nice cafè in the Piazza, a great selection of vintage wear, and a second-hand market during the weekends. Also, it’s pretty good to just chill there at night cause there’s always a good amount of people that hang about on the stairs of the church, playing guitar and singing along.
Looking at the church of Santo Spirito, if you pass by its right-hand side you’ll find a road going left if you take that one and turn left again you’re on the way towards San Frediano. Here is where most of the nightlife moved in the center of Florence with a great selection of Oltrarno Florence restaurants, plus it’s considered one of the coolest areas in the world by TripAdvisor. So go on and flag that in front of our friends when you tell them where you found your apartment in Florence Italy.
Let’s go back a couple paragraphs to the fork in the road after Palazzo Pitti, going down via Romana (called this way cause the road use to show the direction to Rome), you’ll find yourself in Porta Romana. This area is pretty much the end of the center on the Oltrarno side. If you look at the door though, you’ll also get a glimpse of some of the last standing walls in Florence, here you’ll get a chance to see where the city would end. Now look back at the square, there is a hectic roundabout, on the left you see a road guarded by two stone lions, this is the long, but fancy, way to Piazzale Michelangelo.
One of Florence’s most renowned view-point, literally every postcard you’ve seen of the Duomo is taken from here. Every picture you’ve seen of Florence, guess what? taken here. but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience the view for yourself. SO, get your walking shoes on and go up the endless roads that bring you to the top, or hop on a bus, they cost €1,50. Behind Piazzale Michelangelo if you want to move away from the maddening crowds, you should go see San Miniato, it’s one of the pearls up there that not many get a chance to see, mostly cause they finish all of their energy prior.
Map of Oltrarno Florence
So we’re gonna leave a quick embed of the Florence neighborhoods map, I mean it’s always handy to have one.