My first stop was Sabbatical.Com because I figured it would be a pretty safe site. However, I didn't have much luck. It seemed like everything was rented out, and the prices were at the upper end of my price range. There also weren't a lot of reviews of the places, and I spend enough time on the internet to be wary of anything that looks too good without reviews supporting it.
That brought me to Airbnb which is a vacation home rental site that is established enough to have a good pool of places to choose from with enough reviews to make me feel comfortable. It took me forever to pick a place that I wanted for my stay here. Not because there were too few, but too many! There were so many gorgeous houses and apartments, it really came down to what I was looking for in a place. Did I want to be in the countryside with my own little house overlooking the wineries (yes!), but did I want a 35 minute bus ride everyday on Florence's notoriously late public transportation system (no). Did I want to be in the center of everything so it was easy to get around (yes). But did I want to pay $2500 a month for that convenience (definitely not).
So after much searching, I found the place I knew I really wanted. It was just out of my price range, but I wrote the owners hoping for a deal because of two things: 1. that I would be considered a long term rental since AirBnB also places short stays and 2. I would be in Florence, a notoriously quiet month for locals as many Italians go on vacation for the entire month. My gamble paid off, and the owners gave me a really fair deal for a really wonderful place.
How wonderful? Well, I sort of live in a palace. How cool is that? It's a recently renovated palace just off of S. Spirito, a street that I really liked the first time I visited Florence a few years ago. It's full of small cafes & coffee bars. I'm just outside the center of the city which means that I'm far enough away all the tourist activities that I don't have to deal with loud, crowded streets or pay $5 for a bottle of water. I'm also close enough that I have about a 10 minute walk to school and a 15 minute walk to the Ponte Vecchio for days that I want to do tourist things. It's also right in what I think is the antique district because there are tons of antique furniture stores and furniture repair shops in the area. Last night as I was walking home from class I also noticed a few artist studios right on the corner with painters working with the doors wide open so I could peek inside. It's lovely.
All in all I'm really so thrilled with the choice of apartments in Florence. I used AirBnB to book my Russian apartment, and hope I'll have the same luck there.