Forever infamous as birthplace to the Italian Renaissance, centuries later Florence remains one of the premier artistic capitals of the world to study abroad. The same city which gave patron to the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonaroti continues to produce some of the greatest artists, architects, and fashionistas of the world. Enriched with natural beauty, breathtaking medieval architecture, and some of the greatest museums in the world, it should be every aspiring artist’s dream to study abroad in Florence.
There is a little something for everyone in this city of romance and historical intrigue. Students of fashion design, art history, and architecture will surely find paradise in the the city’s rich tradition of cultural refinement. Many local universities offer liberal arts educations centralized around cultural studies.
Grades are generally exam-based, but there are plenty of outlets for additional field research. And subjects are not limited to the arts - Florence also offers many great entrepreneurial opportunities and historical complexities to be untangled for any student studying abroad in Italy.
Field trips and cultural immersion activities are a large part of many study abroad programs in Florence as well. You will find that the Renaissance is still very much alive within the streets of Florence, making the city its own best teacher. What better way to study art history than gazing upon Botticelli's Birth of Venus at the Uffizi or Michelangelo’s David at the Academia? The city is bursting at the seams with landmark monuments and cultural wonders to be learnt from.
Classes are mostly taught in English or Italian, and many study abroad programs in Florence tend to boast their own international center within the city. Programs typically run for summer, a single semester, or for the full academic year. Semesters in Italy typically run from September to January and February to July, with summer and winter breaks in between.
The Italians live a pleasantly laid back lifestyle, so just sit back and enjoy the relaxed pace which governs Florence. Taking long strolls along old alleyways and wide cobblestone streets lined with high end fashion boutiques is a nice way to explore within the relatively small city limits while studying abroad. Taxis are a dependable way to traverse long distances but can be expensive. There is a fairly good bus system in Florence as well, though many central parts of the city are closed to thru traffic.
Depending on the season, the city center is likely to be bustling with tourists and street vendors competing to earn business. The most popular attractions will be quite crowded, especially during summer, so try to meet locals and find the cool offbeat spots while studying in Florence. There is no shortage of hip cafes and bars to be discovered, so make an effort to stray off the beaten path!
Also, if you love Italian food as any sane person should, you will come to find Nirvana while studying abroad in Florence. Some of the best restaurants and gelatarias in all of Italy can be sampled here. So you may want to be mindful about your budget and weight - it is easy to forsake both in this city of culinary excellence.
Depending on the specifics of your program you will likely be offered the choice of apartment, dorm-style living, or a homestay. There is certainly a sentimental quality to having your own apartment when studying in Florence, but also be mindful of the immersive opportunities offered by a homestay and the social opportunities of dorm style living. Choosing appropriate accommodation is typically a to-each-their-own thing; just be sure to do your research beforehand so you can end up in the best possible situation!
Depending on your home country, you will also likely need to organize a student visa if planning to study abroad in Florence for a semester or full year. Your study abroad program provider will typically help you out in this phase, but for more information you can consult GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory. Try to get started early with the visa process, allotting yourself enough time to avoid unneeded time pressure.
It is easy to fall in love with Florence. There is a tremendous wealth of cultural history, artistic brilliance, and architectural wonder which would take a lifetime to fully absorb. As a study abroad participant, take every moment as a learning experience. The Renaissance was one of the most important developments of human history, and its remnants are everywhere in Florence. From the medieval to the modern, this is truly a city with something for everyone. Live every moment to the fullest and do not hesitate to explore all the opportunities that this tremendous city has to offer.