For centuries Florence has been a central cultural influence, not only for Europe but for the whole world. Home of the Renaissance movement, which forever changed the scope of human history, Florence thrives primarily as one of Italy’s artistic and culinary capitals. Those who want to help preserve and promote the cultural history of one of Europe’s greatest cities, should think about getting involved in volunteer work in Florence.
Projects & Placements
There are a variety of placements for individuals who wish to volunteer abroad in Florence, Italy. Possible volunteer placements include a range of educational, social work, and service learning opportunities. Teachers are highly sought after through volunteer programs in Florence, especially those focused on teaching English as a foreign language, and like any major city there are a variety of community development projects which require international volunteers to run on a daily basis.
Contributing to art and historical preservation efforts can be another fulfilling way to complete volunteer work in Florence; since the city is home to a large amount of museums and historical buildings, these locations require careful preservation and renovation constantly. While many restoration projects require professional’s detailed attention, those who are volunteering in Florence in this field can still find many opportunities.
Volunteer programs in Florence typically run year round and last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on your field of placement. Speaking at least basic Italian is not always a must, but is generally preferred by volunteer programs in Italy. However, opportunities to expand your Italian language skills while volunteering in Florence are most definitely widespread.
Life in Florence
Florence is understandably a very popular tourist destination, especially during the summer months, and this trend is replicated when it comes to volunteering in Italy. Large crowds flood the streets near major attractions, and lines for Florence’s world-class museums can extend to hours of waiting time during the summer. As an international volunteer in Florence you will soon learn how to escape the crowds and discover a much deeper side of Florence which offers no shortage of authentic cultural immersion.
Florence, like the rest of Italy, runs at a fairly laid back pace. To supplement your days made busy by volunteer work, you will have many relaxing evenings strolling cobblestone streets along the Arno river or hanging out at small cafes dotted across the city. There is also a hip nightlife scene for those who are more active after the sun goes down.
Florence boasts a proud culinary tradition, which is one of the greatest in all of Italy, so needless to say those who choose to volunteer in Florence will be well fed. Don’t make a habit of eating at five star restaurants though, or you may very well go broke. Smaller hole-in-the-wall establishments and street food can often be equally as delicious for a much lesser cost.
Many parts of Florence are closed to cars, making it a wonderful walking city. However, taxis and buses are generally still a convenient method of getting across town when your legs begin to tire. Florence also has a centrally located train station which makes travel throughout the rest of Italy more accessible.
Costs & Affordability
While the cost of living may not be as high in Florence as in most major European cities, Florence remains a moderately expensive city because of its popularity as a tourist destination. It is certainly possible to lead an affordable existence as a volunteer in Florence, especially if you learn to stay away from tourist traps and shop locally. Many volunteer programs in Florence will compensate volunteer work with housing and meals too
Accommodation & Visas
Volunteers in Florence will likely be offered the option of either apartment living or a homestay. Both options have benefits – a homestay is more culturally immersive and an apartment enables a more independent lifestyle – so consult your volunteer program about the specifics of what housing is offered before you depart. Be sure to consider multiple factors, such as location, pricing, and living with or without roommates.
If you are planning on volunteering in Florence for more than 90 days then you will likely need to obtain a temporary visa. Get started on this process early to allot yourself plenty of time. Your volunteer program or host organization should help with these arrangements prior to your departure. You can also consult GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information on the specific visa requirements for an extended stay based on your country of origin.
Benefits & Challenges
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and has a long history of artistic and social significance. The birthplace of Renaissance era, and locale of its subsequent cultural revolution, to this day Florence continues its cultural influence throughout the region. Widely respected for its contemporary contributions in the fields of art, fashion, and design, Florence is the perfect place in Italy to seek cultural refinement while completing impactful volunteer work daily.