22 Dic The Perfect Weekend With A View

What is that view during the weekend? It’s the Oltrarno; the vibrant area of Florence on the “other side of the river” where you will find Giuditta and Andrea’s apartments and the winding, cobbled streets of one of Florence’s most magical spots. It truly feels like a fairytale, one that can be missed by many, with its small artisanal shops, recurring street art, the warm stones of the buildings and streets that blend into one, and the picturesque Ponte Vecchio in the background overhanging the Arno.

After being both a resident of Florence and a guest in these apartments, I know enough of its secrets to share my perfect weekend in the Oltrarno with you. Whether you know Italy very well or this is your first experience or are traveling alone or with a friend or a lover, the Oltrarno holds more than enough for an enchanting weekend.

A long week at work has been forgotten, your bags are packed, and you are on the train. You arrive in the early evening on a Friday at the main train station in Florence, Santa Maria Novella. As the sun begins to fade, walk for ten minutes past the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, toward the Arno, and across the Ponte Santa Trinita to your apartment. Meet your hosts in Piazza della Passera, a beautiful little square tucked between Ponte Vecchio and Basilica di Santo Spirito. Drop your bags off in your gorgeous apartment overlooking the square and the street below and head to Caffe degli Artigiani in Piazza della Passera for a glass of wine or a spritz. It’s a great place to start; cozy, small, and usually full of locals.

Walk down Via delle Sprone into Piazza Santo Spirito for an affordable and authentic pasta dinner at Trattoria la Casalinga. After dinner, stop at Volume for a final drink or an espresso. Sit outside and watch the people passing through the square. Volume always attracts a hip crowd and a mix of Italians and international people. They often have a live show at night and if they do tonight, stay and enjoy the music. After you are full of Italian language and beautiful tastes and sounds, head back to your apartment for some rest.

Wake up Saturday morning and head to Ditta Artigianale on Via delle Sprone for their nationally recognized, award-winning coffee. For breakfast, you can either go for the typical Italian morning meal of a cappuccino and a pastry or sit down for Ditta Artigianale’s less traditional, but very delicious egg or pancake breakfasts. Grab this month’s copy of “The Florentine,” Florence’s local newspaper written in English, to see what events are happening in town this weekend and plan accordingly. Reserve your tickets online for Palazzo Pitti for the following day.

After some caffeine, planning, and people watching, head out into the streets of the Oltrarno. If you have time, take a quick look inside the church at Santa Spirito as well. Walk down Via Romana, Via Maggio, and any adjoining streets and look at the artisan and vintage shops. Whether it’s leather goods, jewelry, clothes, or art, the Oltrarno is full of artisans giving it a true “Made in Italy” feel. Wander through the maze of streets and allow yourself to get lost until you feel hungry for lunch.

Walk to Osteria di Giovanni for some lunch (make sure you get there before 2pm) where you can try some traditional Tuscan trattoria food and the famous Florentine steak. Fuel up, because you’re going to be more walking and breathe taking sightseeing this afternoon. (…To be continued..)