The Instituto Gould, where we stayed in Florence, is situated in the Oltrano district - in other words, the other side of the Arno. It's a great area to stay; tucked in amid the artisan quarter, away from the tourist bustle but still within convenient walking distance of all the main sights.
The guest house was originally built as a palazzo for a noble Florentine family in the mid 1600s and was acquired by the Gould Institute in the 1920s. The Institute is named after its American founder, Emily Gould, and provides help for troubled youngsters; the profits from the guest house help to support this work.
On arrival, you enter through unprepossessing high wooden doors from the Via dei Serragli (swathed in scaffolding in the Google SV pic taken last year!) into a cool, shady courtyard that seems a million miles away from the street outside. For €60 per night for the two of us we had a spacious, clean, comfortable, ensuite room cooled by a ceiling fan - far preferable to air conditioning - together with a tv, if you want that sort of thing when you're on holiday, and free wi-fi. We were overlooking the garden with views across the rooftops to the hills of the Boboli Gardens. (We had specifically requested a back room after reading reviews mentioning problems with traffic noise in rooms overlooking the street.)
Just opposite the hotel we discovered, courtesy of an American teacher who was also staying at the Gould waiting for the arrival of a group of students the day after we left, a hidden Florentine treat - the I'Raddi restaurant - a trattoria specialising in Tuscan cuisine. Delicious food and beautiful cooking. I ate a sort of pasta pancake with pastry and mushrooms - no idea what it was called in Italian as I'd ordered from the English menu - followed by a banana fritter. To accompany that, we drank vino rosso di casa, decanted from a steel vat in the corner of the room into a blue ceramic jug and rounded things off with an espresso. Yum!
So if you're planning a trip to Florence I'd recommend staying at the Instituto Gould - unless you're the sort of traveller who needs a 24-hour reception and your towels changed every day - and eating in the I'Raddi!
More pictures from the Instituto Gould