The Arno River is a river that is completely contained within the Tuscany region. Next to the Tiber River, it is the most vitally important river in central Italy. Over the centuries, it has been crucial to the development of finance and trade in the region. The significance of this river through Florence to the people of central Italy cannot be underestimated. The Arno River begins at Mount Falterona in the Tuscan Apennines and runs for 150 miles. It flows south before turning west at Arezzo, before ultimately traveling west toward its final destination in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Before making it to the Tyrrhenian, it flows through Florence, Pisa, and Empoli. When you visit Florence, you will notice that much of the activity is centered around this vital waterway, from the bridges over the Arno River like the famous Ponte Vecchio, to the restaurants and cafes that line various portions of its route through romantic Florence.
The Ponte Vecchio (or Old Bridge) is the oldest and certainly the most famous of all the bridges over the Arno River. It is the only Florentine bridge to have survived the bombing attacks by the Germans in World War II. The bridge has remained in tact in Florence since 1345 and to this day remains an important part of the cultural landscape in the city. The Ponte Vecchio crosses over the Arno River from the Uffizi Gallery on the north bank to the Pitti Palace on the south bank. The north bank is known as the Signoria District, while the south bank is the Oltrarno District.
The Ponte Vecchio used to be lined with butchers where now there are vendors selling everything from jewelry to trinkets and souvenirs. At one time this river through Florence carried the carcasses of animals that the butchers would discard into the water. This all came to an end when the Medici family removed the butchers and replaced them with a more gentrified selection of vendors along the ancient bridge.
There are also other bridges over the Arno River. The Ponte delle Grazie is another of the most famous bridges in Florence. It is said to sparkle in the light of the setting sun. It is located down river to the east from the Ponte Vecchio. To the west lies the Ponte Santa Trinita. These are the two most famous bridges, as they connect central Florence with the District of Oltrarno. Other bridges that were constructed to span this river through Florence include the Ponte Alla Carraiat and the Ponte Amerigo Vespucci.
If you are looking for hotels near the Arno River, you will have a range of options at your disposal. Whether you are staying on the north or south bank of the river, there are plenty of viable accommodations. The Hotel Balestri overlooks the historic river and is within close proximity of all the popular attractions in the city center. Many of these accommodations are expensive because of their location and tourist demand is high. The Strozzi Palace Hotel, Albergo Hotel Della Signoria, and the Hotel Machiavelli Palace are three great options if you want to treat yourself to a luxurious accommodation in the heart of all the activity.