For many, moving to a new city (and country!) is synonymous with pushing boundaries, getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. You often can’t speak the local language, the public transport system might be totally different and you don’t have the faintest idea where anything is.
But moving to Florence should also be a time of excitement! You’re opening yourself up to a new world, filled with incredible opportunities, interesting people and endless possibilities. In spirit of helping you focus on the good parts of moving away, the boys and girls at HousingAnywhere decided to put this guide together.
From advising on the average cost of living, to finding housing in Florence and even just giving you a pointer on some of the incredible things to do and places to see around the city, we’ve done our best to cover everything.
We hope you’ll get settled soon and enjoy your stay in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
Florence has a richer and more fascinating history than most nations. Once a critical hub for European trade and finance, it is credited as the birthplace of the Renaissance and produced some of the history’s finest artists and intellectuals, including Dante, Da Vinci and Machiavelli, to name a few.
The modern city boasts nearly 400,000 inhabitants in its centre and is visited by 40 times than number every year by tourists from across the world. Major attractions like the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti are still exceptional centres of art and Florentine culture. In fact, the entire city has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Being one of the fashion capitals of the world, you risk, by living there, falling head-over-heels in love on a near daily basis. It’s a phenomenally attractive and intriguing city, and is also blessed with fine weather for most of the year - any northern europeans or Canadians out there, prepare your suncream!
The language is, of course, plain old Italian. However, Florence is not only credited as inducing the birth of the Renaissance; it is also considered the birthplace of the modern Italian language. If you’re going to learn Italian, it might as well be in the city with its purest form and, I have it on good authority, the sexiest accent.
If you don’t have any Italian, then Spanish or English are probably your next best bet. With a bit of hassle and a lot of gesticulating, Spaniards can generally make themselves understood as the languages are very similar. However, Italians are not exactly known for their fluency in English. You should probably try to attend a language course before arriving, as you won’t be able to depend on locals understanding you, especially in markets or rural areas.
The energetic Italians typically love seeing visitors to their country at least attempting to communicate in Italian, so you’ll have nothing to be embarrassed about!
Florence is nice and toasty in the summer, while pleasantly mild (rarely cold) over the winter. If you’re used to the torrid weather of Rotterdam or the arctic temperatures of Helsinki, then prepare to buy a whole new wardrobe!
The summer months can peak as high as 35oC, which explains the long afternoon riposo (Italian siesta) which many Italian workers and students indulge in. It’s pretty much too hot for anything else. While the weather doesn’t get too cold over the winter (maybe around 5oC or so), it can rain quite heavily and stay pretty overcast, so you won’t have sunshine all year round.
National holidays in Florence are always a cause for celebration - make sure you don’t plan any intense studying sessions over them! You know, studying being your number one priority during the exchange, of course…
One of the biggest public holidays in the city (and the whole country) takes place on June 2nd each year - La Festa della Repubblica, or the Feast of the Republic. It is the national day of Italy and commemorates the fall of Fascism following World War Two, and the introduction of the republic, which received 2 million more votes than the monarchy. It is close to the hearts of the Italian people, and while the largest celebrations and parades take place in Rome, there are still huge festivities across Florence which you’ll not want to miss!
The term Florence Syndrome actually means the feeling of being literally overwhelmed by the beauty and impact of art. Given the quantity of masterful artworks (not to mention buildings and structures) in Florence, the term is very apt!
Almost a third of the world’s art treasures reside in Florence, according to UNESCO.
Always ahead of the curve, Florence was the first city in Europe to pave its streets, all the way back in 1339.
One of TV’s most famous characters (but is he a real boy?) is a Florentine - Pinocchio himself was invented by Florentine author Carlo Lorenzini.
The stunning, world-renowned cathedral of Florence (Il Duomo) took nearly as long to build as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but was completed in the early 1400s - a remarkable achievement.
Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Donatello (3 of the 4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) were Florentines. Raphael lived mostly in Rome.
The piano was invented in Florence.
According to legend, the people of Pisa used to block shipments of salt from entering Florence, hence traditional Tuscan bread is made without salt!
When Italy first became a kingdom in the mid-19th century, Florence was its capital.
Florence has suffered two major floods on November 4th; first in 1333, and more famously in 1966. The first is estimated to caused the deaths of some 3,000 people, the latter causing 101 fatalities and destroying countless priceless works of art and books.