13 May A quick note on Oltrarno
Many will tell you that Oltrarno is the most interesting part of Florence. And for good reason. It is one of those neighborhoods that really gives you an idea of Florence as a living and working city while letting you live in the dream that this city can weave around you. So we’ve jotted down some quick notes for you on Oltrarno, to open some doors for you, maybe make you turn down a street that you were just going to cross instead.
There is something about work that creates community. This is not just a residential neighborhood but a working one so you do get that sense as you walk along, a sense that people in one workshop know the people in the next and also the next street over.
You could head into the Oltrarno from Porta Romana, passing between the entrances of two famous Florentine gardens, the Boboli Gardens, and Annalena Garden and enter into Via Maggio. Here you’d be able to stop and meet our long-time friend Bea, Mamma and owner of Bed & Breakfast Beatrice in via Maggio 40. She could tell you about all the great antique shops and works shops in this street, or even about Atelier Via Maggio, just down the road, who consider themselves lifestyle builders. It could take you a while to get down via Maggio for all of its galleries and antique dealers.
If you turn West into Santo Spirito and the little maze of streets that surrounds it, you can get lost in the best kind of way between workshops, hip boutiques hole-in-the-wall shops and cafes. It is an area where old and new sit together well, where you will find a family bottega that has been there for as long as anyone can remember, next to modern workshop where a mix of temporary and permanent tenants share space, tools, and ideas. Like Officine Nora, in via Preti 2-4r, a workspace for jewelry designers, or passing through via Santa Monaca 2r you’ll find Hello, Wonderful! a lovely hand-made clothes shop or ink-p, a screen-printing due of designers in via Camaldoli 18/4.
And of course you are going to be hungry and need a break and there is no end to the choices of the places that Oltrarno offers, from trendy to traditional. Making a list is impossible so we won’t even try but since we have a soft spot for fine Colombian coffee, yes, even in Italy, we suggest Ditta Artigianale, just East of via Maggio, set between Piazza Pitti and the Piazza della Passera area.
The Oltrarno is one of those places that will make you want to stay, nestle in, start up a conversation and ask questions. So stay a while, walk or scoot around and whatever you do, stop and step into whatever place strikes your fancy because you will often discover that behind each door is something new and enlightening.