Are you, or someone you know, getting ready to study abroad in Florence this summer? The odds are, yes. Florence is such a popular study abroad destination for Americans, especially in the summer. My small university alone will be sending two programs this summer! Because so many people are gearing up for Florence, I wanted to create a quick guide for the city with some tips and a round up of some of my best Florence posts. Enjoy!
1) Florence is small and walkable
No need for cab or bus fare, you can get anywhere in Florence by foot. And don’t be lazy, walk a lot so you can enjoy all that pasta and gelato!
2) It is a popular student destination
Students love Florence because it’s a student city. The constant presence of students gives the city and youthful and vibrant character. There is always something going on and there will be no shortage of people to meet.
3) But don’t just hang out with Americans
Florence is full of Americans studying abroad, which makes living in a foreign culture easier. But you aren’t there for easy. Push yourself to meet and interact with locals and actual Italians.
4) Be open minded
Try new things — like sparkling water with no ice or espresso instead of a giant American coffee — rather than trying to recreate home. Florence has become quite “Americanized,” meaning there are places where you can get hamburgers, wings, American coffee, and pancakes, but if that is all you are going to eat and drink, why go to Florence?
5) Alcohol isn’t a cultural experience
Florence has a very fun bar and nightclub scene. While drinking and dancing with your American friends is fun, this does not count as a cultural experience. If you prioritize and spend all your time and money clubbing, you really will miss out on some amazing cultural experiences. From first-hand experience, I can promise you clubbing looks the same in Budapest, Florence, and Barcelona.
6) Florence is easy to day-trip from
Make the most of your time in Italy and day (or weekend trip) from centrally located Florence. You can explore the charming towns of Tuscany or hop on the high-speed train to Rome, Cinque Terre, Venice, Bologna, and Naples/Amalfi Coast. There are also a ton of student travel agencies that plan these types of trips for students studying abroad in Florence.
7) Florence is relatively affordable
But if you want to get the most bang for your buck, go out for lunch instead of dinner (same delicious food, lower price) and opt for an aperitivo at night.
8) Florence is super safe (but don’t be stupid)
You are pretty much safe to walk around Florence anytime. But of course if you are stumbling home drunk at 3 am alone, well you are going to be an easy target. As long as you are smart and stay in groups late at night, the only thing you have to your about in Florence is petty theft (like pickpocketing).
9) Florence is a culinary delight
Truly, the best part about living in Florence is the food! Don’t be cheap and eat panini all the time! Click here for my favorite places to eat in Florence!
10) Extend your stay
Because your expensive trans-Atlantic flight costs the same whether you stay 4 weeks or 6 weeks, I always suggest extending your stay and going somewhere new from Florence. You could stay in Italy and head to the Amalfi Coast or Lake Como, or, take a quick trip to Santorini, Marrakesh, Barcelona, or Paris. Discount European carriers operating out of Florence and Pisa, make these trips super affordable and easy.
11) Embrace Florence’s beautiful parks
Florence has a lot of great outdoor spaces, like Piazzale Michelangelo, that a prefect for picnicking and sipping prosecco.
12) Don’t be afraid to venture south of the river
The Oltrarno (means other side of the Arno) is my favorite area of Florence.
13) The shopping is just so-so
Sorry to break it to you, but I have never been impressed with Florence’s shopping scene. You are better off spending your money on food and experiences, like riding vespas or driving a vintage fiat through Tuscany.
14) Turn off the lights
Your landlord will harp on you about this one. Americans have a bad habit of leaving the lights on. But electricity is super expensive in Italy, so Italians are fastidious about it. This is also why you won’t have dryer, get used to line-drying.
15) Research before you go
Like any trip, the more research you do before you go, the better your experience. Here are some posts on Florence to get you started!
Where to eat in Florence
My Ultimate Florence Map Guide
10 Unique Things to do in Florence/Tuscany
Best Roof-Top Bars in Florence
Buying Leather in Florence
The History of Pharmacy in Florence
My Favorite Museum in Florence
Road Trip Through Tuscany
44 Tips for Traveling in Italy