Beautiful sites you'll see when you study abroad in Florence, Italy.

Your Guide to Florence

We know that settling into a new city can be difficult, especially if you’re a student.

That’s why we’ve brought together some serious tips for getting the most out of your study abroad in Florence. In this travel guide to Florence, Italy, you’ll find advice on how to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to food, where the best cafes are located, what sorts of day trips you should think about, and much more.

As you check out this list, keep in mind that Verto will have tons of activities planned for you, so be sure to check in with the team to see which of these activities you’ll be able to opt-in to with the group!

About Florence

One of the world’s most beautiful cities, Florence will dazzle you from the moment you step onto its cobblestone streets. Many of the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance are found in its galleries, and its architecture is unrivaled in a region where every city has its claim to greatness. There’s a reason that students from every corner of the globe come to study abroad in Florence!

Students pose during their study abroad in Florence, Italy.

Where to Get the Best Instagram Photo

Trust us, you won’t have trouble taking great pictures in Florence. The light here adds a glow that beats any filter. Here are a couple of the places you should go first to make your friends and family back home feel a little envious.

Accademia Gallery

student posing with a copy of the statue of David

You definitely should go to the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David. But because of the crowds you’re not likely to end up with a great shot. To get that perfect picture, check out one of the copies of the sculpture that stand around the city. One is in the Piazza della Signoria, where the statue was originally erected. Another, this one cast in bronze, is across the Arno River in the hilltop Piazzale Michelangelo.

Ponte Vecchio

Students with bicycles looking out at the Ponte Vecchio.

The literal translation is “Old Bridge,” but that doesn’t begin to describe this engineering marvel crossing the Arno River. For one thing, it’s almost completely enclosed like a tunnel! For another, there are centuries-old buildings hanging off the sides and practically dangling over the river. It’s far from the world’s most beautiful bridge, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting. Wander along the river to find the best views.

Uffizi Gallery

There are masterpieces on nearly every wall at the Uffizi Gallery, which should probably be your first outing in Florence. You’ll probably recognize more of the artworks than you think, starting with Botticelli’s ethereal Venus floating about her clamshell. Taking pics used to be forbidden here, but today it’s perfectly fine to take a selfie with one of the great works of Renaissance art.

Students making pizza and eating. Stall at a food market.

Best Budget Eats

Going out to dinner in Florence can take your breath away — not just how delicious the food is, but unfortunately, how much it costs. The good news is that there are plenty of options for reasonably priced meals if you know where to look!

Mercato Centrale

Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio fruit and vegetable stand.

Photo credit: Paul VanDerWerf, Flickr Creative Commons

One mezzanine level above the bustling market stalls you’ll find some of the best street food vendors in the city all under one roof. You’ll be rubbing elbows with workers queuing up for delicious tripe sandwiches. Meat eaters can make a meal at Perini’s, a butcher who specializes in cured meats, cheeses, and a wide range of toppings. Vegetarians and vegans will find lots of options as well.

Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio

While Mercato Centrale looks a little like a movie set, Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio isn’t at all pretentious. This neighborhood market dating from 1873 is where Florentine’s go to shop, and so should you! You won’t find fresher produce anywhere in Florence. Lots of what you’ll find, like locally grown artichokes, are displayed in the wooden crates they came in.

Le Murate

Housed in a former prison, this spot has tables that spill outside into the spacious courtyard. You can enjoy a very respectable espresso or cappuccino while you tap away at your laptop. There are some very reasonable lunch specials — students get a discount — so this is a good place to spend the afternoon. In the evenings there are always interesting events — most of them focus on literature, but you might catch a local band or a political discussion.

Cafes in Florence

Best Cafés to Study In

In Florence, people tend to like their coffee either extremely fast (standing at the counter and downing an espresso) or painfully slow (lingering at tables covered in beautiful linens and gold-rimmed plates). If you’re looking for a place to study, try a “literary café” that’s part coffee shop, part bookstore, and part community center. You’re sure to meet other students there too!

Ditta Artigianale

Students studying in Ditta Artigianale cafe during their study abroad in Italy.

Photo credit: Ditta Artigianale

If your main goal is seriously good coffee, head to Ditta Artigianale. They are justifiably proud of their farm-sourced beans and will gladly tell you anything you want to know about the process. This handsome spot on the Via dello Sprone, not far from the Ponte Veccio, always has a line of students in the front window taking advantage of the speedy Wi-Fi.

La Cité

With several different seating areas spread over two floors, La Cité is the perfect place to find some peace and quiet. Head upstairs and grab one of the tables under the arches — there are outlets everywhere, and the internet connection is impressive. On a side street south of the Arno River, this place often has live music in the evenings.

Todo Modo

A sunny skylight illuminates this cozy bookstore, keeping its patrons and its plants equally happy. Tucked away in the back of this long, narrow space is a little café where you’ll find plenty of students taking advantage of the low-key atmosphere. Hang out until the late afternoon and the staff will start rearranging the seating for whatever literary event is on the roster..

Best Outdoor Activities

Don’t spend all your time indoors when you study abroad in Florence! The city has some amazing parks that feel cool and comfortable even on the hottest days. And just beyond the city’s borders are opportunities for great outdoors activities too.

Biking through Tuscany

Students bike through the hills of Tuscany during their study abroad in Italy.One of the best ways to see the countryside around Tuscany and Chianti is on two wheels. You’ll wind your way alongside vineyards, past olive groves, and through incredibly picturesque villages where locals will tempt you to try some of their local cuisine. Book a tour through one of the local companies, or simply rent a bike and explore on your own.

Stroll Around Boboli Gardens

Behind the Palazzo Pitti, these beautiful gardens are a welcome sight to anyone who’s spent the day ducking into stuffy museums. It’s refreshing to stroll down the tree-covered paths, stop to watch birds in the branches, and take in the artworks in what is essentially one of Italy’s best open-air galleries.

Climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo

Two students pose with a sweeping view of Florence behind them during their study abroad in Italy.

On the “other” side of the Arno River, getting to Piazzale Michelangelo requires climbing a lot of steps. It’s worth it, though, for the view of the hills surrounding Florence. It’s the best way to get the lay of the land, as you can clearly see Ponte Vecchio and the massive dome of the Duomo. Time your trip for sunset and you’ll be treated to a spectacular display.

Students posing behind backdrops in Rome and Cinque Terre.

Getting Outside the City

Some of Italy’s most famous cities — think Bologna, Pisa, and Siena — are within a 90-minute drive of Florence. A little farther are other unforgettable destinations that you should totally visit during your study abroad in Italy!  The only trouble you’re likely to have is picking where to go first.

Cinque Terre

If you want to visit one of the beautiful villages within easy driving distance of Florence, but can’t decide which one, head to the Cinque Terre. The “Five Lands” is a series colorfulful towns clinging precariously to the cliffs of the Italian Riviera. Even higher are the vineyards that make their way farther up the hillsides. Grab a seat at a waterfront trattoria and watch boats in the harbors.Students in front of the sea in Cinque Terre.

Pisa

Student "hugs" the leaning Tower of Pisa.It’s barely an hour away from Florence, so a visit to Pisa is almost obligatory for students who study abroad in Italy. Take a selfie of yourself “holding up” the world-famous Leaning Tower so you can get it out of your system. It’s not the most interesting sight in Pisa, or even in the Piazza dei Miracoli where it’s located. There — cropped out of about 99% of photos — are two genuine marvels, the gleaming marble Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the acoustically flawless Baptistry. The grand Romanesque style makes them distinct from anything you’ll see in Florence.

Siena

Florence may represent the Renaissance in all its glory, but nearby Siena is no slouch either. In the 13th and 14th centuries, it was a rival for the crown. Siena’s magnificent cathedral, done in alternating stripes of light and dark marble, is one of the most stunning sights in Italy. The medieval streets are great for strolling, especially if you don’t mind some pretty steep hills.

We know that at this point you’re ready to start experiencing Florence on your own terms!

Remember that the Verto team has a whole list of activities planned for you and your fellow participants. The team is eagerly awaiting your arrival!

Enrolled Participants: Be sure to complete your Student Portal Checklist items today to get ready for take-off! 

Prospective Participants: Curious about traveling the world with Verto?! You could study abroad in Florence, Italy too! Submit your application today!