It’s hard to find a reason not to spend a gap year in Florence. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, this city is still considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Florence is located in the heart of Tuscany and boasts some of the best food, scenery, museums and architecture in all of Italy. Whether you are an aspiring Michelangelo or not, Florence has a way of drawing out the artistic soul in everyone, allowing you the find creativity and beauty in food, people, wine, and even soccer.
The Florentines think about life a little differently than you may be used to—with an emphasis on slowing down and enjoying little things, you’ll find yourself free to discover your passions and gain a deeper sense of what really matters in life. Even Kate Middleton was drawn to Florence for her gap year, and we can only assume she picked up some of her poise from living in a city defined by its history of beauty.
Florence has been capturing the heart of travelers for ages and inspired poems, books, and art. It is a beautiful, lively, passionate city full of history and legend. You can’t go wrong living La Dolce Vita in one of the most unique cities in the world!
Types of Programs
There are countless opportunities to teach English in Florence whether in schools or as a private tutor. Often, schools and students want to learn from a mother-tongue English speaker to help them perfect the language, colloquialisms, and accent. A TEFL certification and visa are required to teach English and there are many programs that provide both TEFL certification courses and visa sponsorship for a small fee. These programs often provide job placement assistance as well as housing during your TEFL course.
Italian. La Bella Lingua. Though not a widely spoken language, many people are drawn in by the song-like nature of the Italian language. The Florentine dialect is what is considered standard Italian, making Florence a great place for language study and immersion. You can enroll in a local language school for relatively low costs and get to Florence on a free student visa. With a student visa, you can work up to 20 hours per week to pay for living expenses and further immerse yourself in the language. There are tons of local programs to choose from that range from all-inclusive with housing placement to just language courses.
Culture Study (cooking, wine and food pairing, art)
Florence has perfected many of the finer things in life and is a great place to learn if you want to pick up a unique skill. There are culinary schools, art schools, and sommelier courses that will sponsor a student visa and allow you to study in depth about living la dolce vita. You can still work part time on this visa to off set costs. Whether you want to perfect your pasta skills, learn how to craft leather goods or make jewelry, Florence is home to artisans and craftsmen who are eager to pass on their skills.
Aupairing is a very popular way to make a little money while in Florence and have the comfort of a family. Because Florence is small, there are fewer professional opportunities for ‘gappers’ so aupairing is a great way to be immersed in the culture, meet new people, and often families will provide housing and some pocket money for the aupair. Additionally, they may pay for a language course while you’re there. With so many families looking for English speaking aupairs, you’re sure to find a family that fits your needs.
Planning Your Trip
Cost of Living
The cost of living can depend on the neighborhood you choose to live in, but in general, costs are on par with New York or London--though rent is significantly cheaper. While this is still pricier than you were hoping for, there are often unique resources for students and young people that can help offset the costs. Apartments Florence has apartment listings for students and can help you find places within your budget. By cooking in and grabbing a cheap panino for lunch, you can keep your food costs relatively low as well. Just make a budget and stick to it. Here are some average prices:
- Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center: $899 (40% cheaper than NYC)
- Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment: $244
- Meal (Inexpensive Restaurant): $15
However, with a little planning, and the right 5 euro sandwich shop, Florence can be affordable.
Health & Safety
Florence is one of the safest tourist destinations—violent crime is practically non-existent. You’ll feel safe walking the cobbled streets, even at night as long as you stick to areas you know. Of course, you have to use common sense. Pick-pocketing in the tourist areas is a problem: con artists try to distract tourists with baby dolls or by begging.
As long as you stay in control of yourself and your belongings, you shouldn’t have any issues- and always keep copies of your personal documents and the number of the embassy available just in case.
Contributed by Olivia Salmonese
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