We arrived in Florence by train on a very muggy and overcast afternoon. The area immediately surrounding the train station is not the nicest part of town, but as soon as I stepped out of the station, it was like running into a dear old friend.
Without using a map, I was able to maneuver us to our hotel. It was my third time visiting the city, the first since I had lived there. For the most part, I remembered these streets (there were some I had forgotten). Our hotel was located in Piazza Santa Maria Novella and when I lived in Florence, this area was under construction and was an area of town you did not want to walk alone. I avoided it at all costs. When I found the hotel online, I did my research and found that the piazza had reformed and construction was done. I was still skeptical when I booked the hotel (for such a centrally located hotel, it was one of the most inexpensive I could find in this pricey town), but I was so happy to see that in fact, Piazza Santa Maria Novella was nothing like I remembered. It was beautiful with open lawns, flowers, and benches where a full-blown construction site had once been. I was also able to finally see how beautiful Cathedral Santa Maria Novella really is (I had always avoided it in the past) (And I apologize- for some reason, neither Chris nor I took pictures of the piazza!).