1. Plan your weekend trips as soon as possible. Before arriving in Florence, have a list of places that you want to go to. This will make it so much easier and less stressful to book trips if you have already picked out where you want to visit. If you are studying in the fall, take advantage of the warm weather while it lasts and go to the beach! There are many beaches near Florence so research which ones you want to visit.
2. Once you get your housing assignment, find it on Google Maps and look up coffee shops and restaurants nearby. Some places don’t show up on Google or Apple maps, so be sure to walk around and explore places. Avoid tourist traps by looking up places on Tripadvisor or Yelp.
3. Learn some Italian before arriving. It will make things so much easier and you can chat with locals. I regret not learning Italian before coming, and now I have some catching up to do. There are free apps that you can learn with such as Duolingo.
4. Depending on where you go, it gets very crowded in Florence during the day. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit places either early in the morning or later in the evening. Many establishments are still open late such as stores, restaurants, and gelaterias.
5. Before paying to get into churches or museums, check with your class syllabus to see if you will be visiting any during class. One of my classes is going to visit the Uffizi gallery, which is a world-famous art museum with important art from the Renaissance. Lastly, before booking weekend trips, check out SAI’s trips. SAI has awesome weekend and day trips which are included in your program!
Ariana is a fall 2019 Florence student from the University of Kentucky.