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Guide to Studying Abroad in Florence, Italy - Travel Guide

August 11, 2023
by CEA CAPA Content Creator
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student poses in front of European architecture

Your New City: A Florence Travel Guide  

 

Welcome to Florence! First off, congratulations on making the decision to study abroad with CEA CAPA. It’s a huge step in a young person’s life that allows you to find your independence and grow in a new culture. While studying abroad and being in a new country can be scary and sometimes a difficult adjustment, I’m here to give you all my tips and recommendations! The city is beautiful and there is so much to see and do. 

Student smiles atop view at Piazza Michelangelo

Top Three Tips: 

  1. Get to know your roommates, classmates, and surroundings! These people will be your support system through this journey and will help make your experience 10x better! (On my first night after a long day of traveling I wasn’t in the mood to go to dinner with people I didn’t know, but I decided to anyway and it’s how I truly got to know the girls I was with and set my study abroad experience up for success)! 

  1. Respect the locals! Be mindful of how loud you are and pay attention to cars and bikes when walking on the road. 

  1. Take everything in during your study abroad in Florence, Italy journey! 

The Lay of the Land 

During your Florence study abroad experience, I highly suggest getting to know the street you’re living on! Walk around and find the cafés, restaurants, grocery stores, and shops! I think I tried almost everything on the street I lived on! When you’re ready to try some new things, here’s what I suggest! 

Coffee 

No matter what time of the year it is, hot coffee is definitely the thing here. I personally wasn’t a cappuccino girl before being here, but they grew on me! Most cappuccinos taste the same, so if you're in the mood you can get one at any café (just add sugar 😉). Now, iced coffee. Shake Café - iced large vanilla caffe latte is mouthwatering (and huge). Ditta Artigianale also has an amazing iced salted caramel coffee, but only one size and it's small. I’m also going to let you in on a secret… there’s a Starbucks here. If you really need your usual, you should go (I did a couple times), but I found that the local coffee was just as good or even better, so you should try places before you go!  

Breakfast  

This quite literally is my favorite meal of the day and Florence breakfast doesn’t disappoint. If you’re in the mood for a delicious pastry and cappuccino, Slitti is amazing, Vecchio Forno is great, and Shake Café has quick options too! Now if you want to sit down and have a little taste of America, Ditta Artigianale is the place to go. I’m drooling thinking about their pancakes as I write this. La Menagere has a great iced matcha latte if that’s more your style! 

Lunch 

Everywhere you turn there’ll be somewhere to grab lunch! I suggest trying new places every day and figuring out what your favorite lunch dish is. Of course, I’ll tell you some of my favorites but the sandwiches here are SO good. While SandwiChic might take a little long, it’s absolutely amazing, the best sandwich I ever ate. I also love the quick places to grab something on the go and a great place is Vecchio Forno! 

Dinner 

You’re in for a treat. Before you go eat, check the time. Most everywhere closes at 3 p.m. and then opens back up at 7 p.m., so if you’re an early bird eater, I’d grab a snack! Getting used to the late dinners is a little hard at first, but it becomes your new normal. Not only do they open late, but they also stay open so much later than American restaurants. Something else different from the U.S., is that they don’t tip, and instead you pay for a service/bread fee at dinner. This just means they give you bread during your meal and instead of tipping you’re basically paying for service. I, of course, have some recommendations but I’ll leave a full detailed list of all my suggestions at the end! 

Dessert  

Don’t let anyone shame you for getting dessert, no matter how many times a day you do it. I had gelato every day I was there, sometimes 2-3x a day. I suggest trying all the flavors, especially the sorbets, they became my favorite! You should get your gelato and go somewhere to admire the view - my favorite was sitting by the Duomo, it never got old seeing it at night.  

Free day?  

Don’t worry, I have things for you to do! First off, if you still haven’t done a walking tour of the city, you should. Walk to Ponte Vecchio and see all the jewelry shops and you should look up the history. It’s so cool! There’s always a museum to tour and I’d try to get your tickets online. I used the GetYourGuide app and it was helpful! The Boboli Gardens are absolutely gorgeous, definitely go. The Gucci Gardens were really cool - ask for student tickets. There are some public pools around Florence, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t find one worth the walk or the money! 

Weekend Trips! 

Weekend travel while studying abroad is so much fun. If CEA CAPA is offering excursions through your program, sign up! It was nice to travel and not have to plan your trip (and they’re included in your program price). If you have a free weekend, I highly suggest the west coast.

person standing in front of cathedral

If you can afford a weekend in a town, you should, but personally I wanted to save a little money while studying abroad, so I only did a day trip, but it was a dream! These are memories you’ll never forget, even if it’s a day trip somewhere I say do it! The trains are really easy to navigate. I used the app Trainline 99% of the time.

person swimming in blue ocean water

If you’re in the mood to stay in Florence, I also suggest it. On the last weekend of my Florence summer program, I stayed there versus traveling and it was so nice to really appreciate the city I was so lucky to stay in.  

Recommendations 

Breakfast 

Ditta Artigianale: 10/10  

  • Fantastic French toast and iced matcha latte 

  • Perfect pancakes 

  • Incredible iced caramel coffee 

La Ménagère: 6/10 

  • Amazing iced matcha latte (get it with vanilla) 

  • Dry French toast 

Sliti: 10/10 

  • Delicious pastries (saccottino al cioccolato 1000/10) 

  • Great cappuccino 

Shake Café: 9/10 

  • Large, iced vanilla caffe latte is a must 

  • Great iced matcha latte with vanilla 

  • Good club sandwich  

  • Pancakes are a hit or miss 

Lunch 

SandwiChic: 9/10 

  • Best sandwich ever but waited 40 minutes in line for it 

Vecchio Forno: 10/10 

  • Great for quick things like good pizza and pastries  

Dinner 

Osteria Giglio d’Oro: 11/10 

  • Amazing 

  • You have to get the gnocchi pesto! 

Osteria del Fiore: 7/10 

  • Awesome appetizer 

  • Ravioli was a small portion not worth the price 

  • Tagliatelle ai funghi porcini is soooo good 

Amalfi: 10/10 

  • Delicious really big pizza 

Mercato Centrale: 9/10 

  • Central market has so many different options on top floor, kind of like mall food court 

Chefactory Cooking Class: 100/10 

  • So, so good! It had the best food ever and it’s fun and delicious  

Osteria Pepo: 10/10 

  • Tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms was sooo good, definitely get this  

  • Roommate got spaghetti pepo and said it was super good too 

O' Munaciello: 9/10 

  • Great! First time I ever finished a pizza 
     

Pizza on a plate on top of menu

Gelato 

Grom: 100000/10 

  • Lemon strawberry chocolate chip 

La Strega Nocciola: 9/10 

  • Very good, just didn’t beat Grom 

Activities 

Boboli Gardens: 1000/10  

  • Absolutely stunning views! There were lots of stairs and ramps. Try to go early in morning to avoid the heat 

Ponte Vecchio: 10/10 

  • Walk through is so interesting to see 

Uffizi Museum: 8/10 

  • Beautiful and insane how many things there were - I got a little bored by the end of it though but everyone else went back twice (not a big museum gal) 

Academia Museum: 10/10  

  • You should definitely go to see The David but buy the skip the line tickets - not worth waiting in the line 

  • There was so much more in there and it was so cool to see 

Gucci Gardens: 9/10 

  • Very cool to see, ask for student tickets - if they were more expensive, I probably wouldn’t have gone! 

Piscina Le Pavoniere (pool): 4/10 

  • €12 entry and €5 for bed. You must wear swimming caps in the pool, which I found weird. And do not dip your feet in the pool! 

All in all, this trip is going to be a core memory. Take it all in! Florence is amazing. Goodluck on your journey, and as always feel free to connect with any questions. I love sharing about my study abroad journey.   

Abbey League studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and was a Summer '23 Insider for CEA CAPA. 

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