We are traveling to many cities in Italy and want to see as much as we can. When we arrive in Florence early in the morning we most likely will not be able to check in to the hotel. Is it safer to store the luggage at the train station or see if the hotel will keep it?
Jen, there are staffed and secure left luggage facilities in most of the major Italian train stations. No lockers. You check you luggage and its stored behind the counter. Here's the info on the Florence left luggage facility at the Santa Maria Novella train station. http://www.grandistazioni.it/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=9511d0ef6030c110VgnVCM1000003f16f90aRCRD
I have found hotels are happy to store luggage for guests who are checking in but the rooms are not ready yet.
Ask your hotel first, since that will be the most convenient. My motto: "If you don't ask, they can't say 'Yes'."
Go to the hotel, even if it's in the morning. In most cases they will have a room ready for you to check in. And in all cases, even if no rooms are ready, they will hold your luggage while you go out, for free.
We have a similar situation in May and are arriving by train into Florence at 9am. I emailed our hotel about 2 weeks ago and they said they would be happy to keep our bags for us. I figured that would be easy, drop the bags off and start visiting Florence. Best case, they have a room available already. Worse case, I check in when I get back to the hotel in the afternoon. No need to back-track to the train station to get my bags.
I have never encountered a hotel anywhere that refused to hold my luggage before check-in or after check-out for a few hours and they've never charged for it. I once left a bag for almost 2 weeks in London, they said it would cost £.50/day, but in the end they didn't charge me. PS - I never asked at Motel 6.