If you’ve never been to Italy, you need to do what you can to see it sometime soon. It’s a unique country that really doesn’t look or feel like any other place I’ve ever been, and I’ve traveled all over the world. One place I hadn’t seen until recently was Florence. Circumstances never fell into place such that I could explore Florence, but then one day recently I ran into a group of travelers who had a seat left on their charter. They were spending 24 hours in Florence. If I wanted to join them, I needed to find a Florence hotel room as quickly as possible. What that meant was that I had only minutes, if that, to get something booked. I wasn’t sure if that was possible, but I certainly was not going to spend any time pondering at that moment. I dove into my new and short-term mission.
I grabbed my phone and quickly pulled up HotelTonight. I searched for Florence hotels and was quite surprised by how many options were available. I chose one that looked right for me and then took a deep breath, as I was about to embark on the booking process. This would make or break my ability to see Florence. I was ecstatic when booked and set to spend 24 hours in Florence exploring.
When you see a new city, it’s always nice to start in the center of that city. The Duomo neighborhood is like stepping back into another time. There are classic signs of Italy here, such as piazzas and some enormous old churches that were so beautiful I could not believe what I was seeing. For the most part, this was a place that could have been a movie set. I walked around for a bit and took some photos, sure that at least a couple of them would be worthy of my office wall. It was a very nice way to start the day.
San Lorenzo appears to be the center of commerce in Florence, and I really enjoyed walking through what seemed like several different markets, both indoor and outdoor. One enormous indoor food market in particular was striking, and I couldn’t resist grabbing some things that might come in handy as snacks later. I also found a nice little cafe that had outdoor seating. San Lorenzo was the perfect place to sit and people-watch, as they milled about in this extremely busy part of Florence.
This part of Florence sits on the banks of the river and it runs all the way to the train station. The train station is what it is–busy and full of travelers–but the rest of the neighborhood is quite traditional and extremely beautiful, especially near the water. I was interested in the area, but at that point I was more interested in finding a place for lunch, as I was starving. I found a little restaurant near the river that was not all that noticeable overall. It was small and intimate, but the food was absolutely fantastic. You could tell that the owner of the place had been at this for a very long time.
I had seen a lot of beautiful things already in Florence, but hadn’t really gotten a look at local life. When I got to Santa Croce, that’s exactly what I saw, and it was wonderful. The people were out and about and going through their routines, but everyone I spoke to could not have been friendlier even if there was a bit of a language barrier. One person walked me to some nearby shops, and that meant a lot to me because I was in need of some gifts for the people in my life. I filled a few bags with unique items and then started thinking about dinner.
I finished my day in San Marco, which is part of the Centro Storico. It’s famous for its own medieval look, and I was quite happy to just walk around and take more photos as the sun went down. At that point, though, it was time once again to eat. I found another small, what appeared to be family-owned place and found a table that was open. I ordered a pasta plate that I thought had no bottom, but it’s deliciousness helped me find it.
As I made my way back to my hotel, I allowed myself a moment of congratulations. I had really pulled something off here, finding my way to such an historic and beautiful city on such short notice. I owed a lot of this adventure to HotelTonight, as without it I would never have found a hotel room in Florence without it.