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Wander through Florence experiencing its culture like a true local with Spring 2022 student Mackenzie Messineo! 

***This is an example of a student’s experience from Spring 2022. Specific programming and activities are subject to change semester by semester.


Ciao, my name is Mackenzie Messineo, and I am currently living in Florence, Italy for my Spring semester with Verto Education. With being here for over a month, I am starting to get a complete idea of Italian etiquette. I wouldn’t consider myself a local yet, but I am getting there.

Every Monday, the Verto Italian club gets together and does a new cultural activity. The student leadership counselors Kiara and Marissa put a lot of time and thought into each activity held for us. They are giving us the real experience of Italian lifestyles. At each club meeting, we learn new phrases to get better at the language. There is so much support for becoming a local here. Some of these fantastic events vary from showing us around local markets, trying famous Florentine meals, understanding the histories of wine in Tuscany, and chocolate tastings. My favorite excursion has been hiking in a beautiful town in Florence called Fiesole. Even in a beautiful city, I needed to reconnect with nature. The hike was a perfect opportunity to gather all my thoughts and take in the beautiful views of Florence. Verto has offered multiple excursions to get the most of my experience here. We have at least two per week that helps me learn more about this incredible city.

Going on excursions is the best time to try some good food. With one of our counselors always being with us to recommend the best food offered, I have tried some phenomenal dishes. One famous Florentine meal that is an experience you must try is “Lampredotto”, made from the fourth and final stomach of a cow. Although it sounds intense, I seemed to enjoy it. Being in Italy, I honestly have a better understanding of how important food and flavor are.

I have been enjoying the courses I am taking. Every Thursday, my Intro to Business class goes on outside trips and hands-on learning by visiting different businesses around Florence. My professor bought me my first gelato in Florence and showed our class one of the best Gelaterias in all of Florence. He also brought us to a great cafe that taught us the history of coffee and explained each blend. We had a coffee tasting to get a better understanding of the coffee market. Another class I enjoy is my drawing class. It has been challenging me and allows me to push my boundaries, but I have learned so much in that class and improved greatly with just a month’s work.

My journey abroad in Italy has been nothing but pure bliss. I am constantly growing and improving my life skills. Within a month, I have already seen so much. I will continue to adventure around the country. I have always admired Italian culture, however, Verto Education has given me an entire experience to learn about what it means to live in Italy.