What better place is there to expand your career as an educator than the birthplace of the Renaissance? Florence has had a long and flourishing tradition of education, artistic excellence, and cultural innovation. Home to some of the most prestigious museums and magnificent architectural wonders in the world, teaching abroad in Florence will leave international teachers in perpetual awe of this great city’s wealth of knowledge and history. If you are looking to enrich the academic lives of others while becoming further enriched by your stimulating cultural surroundings, then you may just strike gold through teaching jobs in Florence.
Teaching in Florence
Most openings to teach abroad in Florence are for teaching English as a second language. Italians begin learning English in school from a very young age, so it is possible to find a English teaching job in Florence in most levels of education and even in unique educational settings. Private and public schools both offer opportunities to teach in Florence, as do language institutions and even companies who are looking to improve their employees’ English language skills related to business.
It is also possible to teach other subjects, such as in the math or sciences, at international schools. However, landing teaching jobs in Florence at international schools is a bit more challenging, because most schools seek to hire full time employees and the medium of instruction is typically Italian. As an English teacher you are often asked to speak as little Italian as possible in the classroom, so you don’t necessarily need to know Italian to teach English in Florence.
Many individuals who teach abroad in Florence also choose to supplement their institutional teaching jobs with private tutoring sessions or language lessons. There are many eager adults and young learners alike who look to hire tutors for private language sessions, and this can be a great way to pick up some extra cash while teaching in Florence.
Typically you will want to apply for a teaching job in Florence before the start of the ensuing school year, meaning spring or in early summer. Many TEFL programs are available in Florence too, which will include a month long certification and cultural immersion program before the school year begins, so this can also be a great option for those who do not already possess a TEFL certificate.
Life in Florence
Those interested in the arts will immediately fall in love with Florence. The city was home to some of the greatest patrons and artists of the Medieval Renaissance era, many of whose works are still on display in museums and palaces across Florence (begin by touring the Boboli Gardens and the Uffizi Gallery for a brief preview). Today, Florence remains a central hub of fashion, art, literature, and music in the area, producing a very enriching cultural environment for international teachers.
Florence is a big walking city, as there are many nooks and crannies where cars are not allowed to go. When the distance is too far to walk, there is a pretty good public bus system and taxis are readily available at most major streets. The Firenze Santa Maria Novella Railway Station can also connect you efficiently to other major destinations across the region (Rome is only a few hours away).
Florence is an extremely popular tourist destination, so you will likely fall victim to large crowds around the major attractions, especially in the summer months. However, while teaching abroad in Florence you’ll have the benefit of living like a local, and you will soon discover many of the hidden gems in Florence (think cafes, bars, and gelaterias) which lie off the beaten path.
Although fluent Italian isn’t typically required of international teachers, you will find that making the effort to learn the local language will take you a long way in Florence. Many locals speak decent enough English, but by picking up enough Italian to be conversational you will unlock a whole new side of Florence that will make your time teaching abroad much more rewarding.
Salaries & Costs
Pay varies between teaching jobs in Florence, with private schools and companies often paying more than public schools and language institutions (but also typically demanding more qualifications and experience of teachers). Foreign teachers on average can expect to make between 1,000 to 2,000 euros per month, depending on their work schedule.
Your salary will be enough to get by, but you may not be saving up too much money while teaching in Florence. Since it is such a popular travel destination, costs of living in Florence can be quite high, especially in the more touristy parts of the city. If you resist the temptation to eat out all the time and shop like the locals you will be able to live a modest, comfortable lifestyle.
Accommodation & Visas
When it comes to accommodation in Florence, you get what you pay for. If you want to live in the historical downtown or more popular areas of town then the price of an apartment will be considerably more expensive than living on the outskirts. There are certainly affordable apartments to be found, so take your time carefully researching which neighborhoods appeal most to your budget and preferences.
You will likely need to obtain a visa if you are planning to teach in Florence for more than three months. Teachers coming from outside of the European Union can only teach in Italy for ninety days, and beyond that point you will need to be endorsed by your employer to obtain a work visa.
Benefits & Challenges
Whether you are new to teaching or a seasoned professional, making the leap to teach abroad in Florence will be an exciting and life changing decision. The city is nothing short of inspiring, with the Renaissance spirit of cultural rebellion and innovation still very much alive today. For most, teaching abroad in Florence will always remain a faraway dream. But if you put in the effort to become TEFL certified and apply to local programs, that dream is much closer to becoming a reality than you think.