The area commonly known to Florentines as “Oltrarno”, which means “over the Arno river”, hosts a large section of the city's historical center which used to be enclosed within the imposing city walls. Three entrances along the city walls remain today as monuments to document the walls existence – Porta San Niccolò, Porta Romana and Porta San Frediano – with a few segments of the walls themselves present, the only ones still standing along the entire perimeter that used to encircle Florence.
This area of the historical center still remains largely inhabited by Florentines themselves, and is therefore one of the most authentic, real parts of the city center. It continues to be home to numerous artisan workshops, in particular to craftsmen specialized in restoring wood, art workshops, antique galleries and small outdoor markets in the main squares (Piazza de’Nerli and Piazza Santo Spirito) where local farmers can continue to sell fruit and vegetables to the residents today.
This neighborhood is also home to many popular hangouts for the younger crowd (via San Niccolò, piazza del Carmine, borgo San Frediano) including pubs and cafes that attract people from all over the city in the evenings.
Numerous wine bars, small bistro, trattorias and elegant restaurants also make it a popular destination for both residents and visitors staying all over the city. There are options for various tastes and for all budgets at almost every corner, where you'll find many locals to show the authentic air of this area of the historical center which is still far from the main hordes of tourists that arrive into Florence.
For its particular urban setting, the Oltrarno is the ideal starting point from which to discover the beautiful hills around Florence (San MIniato a Monte, Fiesole, Settignano etc..) and for trips into the nearby Chianti, Siena and Tuscan countryside, all easily reached by car, some by train and many with fast buses offering excellent service.