Study Abroad in Florence, Italy: Semester or Academic Year

Video and Photos

Positano
View of Florence from Piazza Michelangelo
Fountain at the casino in Monte Carlo
Cruising the canals of Venice in a gondola
Enjoying the Christmas lights of Florence
Final presentation and critique in Drawing for beginners
Day trip and hike at Cinque Terre
Final dinner party

About

Spend a semester or academic year in Florence with AIFS. Earn up to 16 credits studying at Richmond University in Florence. No previous Italian language study is required.

Select the Traditional Academic Program to begin or advance your Italian language and select courses from a variety of subjects. During Spring semester, a Fashion Management and Marketing Program is also available.

The program includes a one-week orientation. Fall semester orientation is on the coast of Tuscany, while orientation for spring semester is in Rome.

Live in an Italian homestay or a shared student apartment. Both housing options include a meal plan.

You’ll enjoy cultural and social activities including:
• Guided city walks
• Visits to museums
• Italian cooking classes
• Day trips to Pisa, Lucca and the Vespa Factory.
Fall students take a 3-day trip to Rome. Spring students take a 5-day trip to Rome. All students enjoy 2-days in Venice and a day trip to Siena.

Highlights
  • 3-day trip to Rome (Fall) or 5-day trip to Rome (Spring)
  • 2-day visit to Venice
  • Earn up to 16 credits and transcript issued by Richmond, The American International University in London
  • No previous Italian language study required
  • Internship opportunities

Scholarships

AIFS Study Abroad Scholarships
AIFS Study Abroad Scholarships, Grants & Financial Support

We believe a study abroad experience is an essential component of well-rounded university education and we are committed to providing financial assistance to as many students as possible in support of their goal to study abroad.

Value
$500 - $5,000

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

Yes, this program is open to seniors.
You don't have to know any Italian! I hadn't taken any Italian classes prior to studying abroad and I knew maybe three words total before I went over. You will have to enroll in Italian classes through AIFS while you are studying there, but you need no prior experience with the language.
Do it! I spent a summer in studying Art History in Perugia (about 2 hrs south of Florence) and didn't know a lick of Italian. Particularly in a place like Florence you don't need to know much Italian to get by, other than learning how to order gelato. While you're there though you should definitely take a language class. It helps make the experience more authenticate and memorable.

Reviews

98%
based on 42 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 42
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Brianna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Worth Every Penny

There are so many different program options when it comes to going abroad, but AIFS makes going abroad easy, fun, and worth every penny. I was blown away by how much was provided within my program. Before arriving in Florence, I did the two day London stopover and then we had our orientation in Rome. The AIFS staff did such a great job in letting us get to know the others within our program, providing us with tours, and so many unforgettable moments before our time in Florence even began. While in Florence, I had the best meal plan ever where I got to eat out at restaurants around the city. The staff were helpful and easy to talk to, which really helped me when I got homesick. They made my time in Florence worth every moment, to the point where I want to go back more than ever! AIFS cares about their students and made my time abroad so memorable, I definitely recommend their program.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to take advantage of all of the extra excursions that AIFS provides. There are so many, so don't plan flights or trips until after you've arrived and seen what is offered during the upcoming months. There are certain things you won't want to miss, and things that will help you become immersed in Italian culture. This program will offer extra tours, tastings, trips, etc. and to not go on them will only be something you'll regret later on! There's plenty of time to explore what is outside of Florence, but take the time to discover what is in Florence too because it will surprise you.
Samantha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AMAZING EXPERIENCE!!!!!!

My time in Florence, Italy was an incredible experience I will never forget thanks to the American Institute For Foreign Study. They made applying and and getting ready for departure easy and seamless by walking me through the visa and passport applications, and by providing the option to have my flight to and from Italy booked by the company. That was such a relief for me because I had never booked a flight overseas before, another perk of having my flight booked by AIFS was a 2 day layover in London on they way to Italy.

After arriving in Florence, AIFS did such a great job helping students make the most of their time, they always had free or cheap events for us to attend like gelato tours, cooking classes, soccer games and even tickets to the opera. There were also many excursions included in the price of tuition, one was a week long trip to Rome and the others were weekend or day trips to places like Venice and Viareggio.

A cool opportunity I got to partake in thanks to AIFS was working as a tour guide at the Church of Santa Croce, this church was across the street from my apartment and is where Michelangelo is buried! All students at AIFS are offered the opportunity to partake in volunteer work, a friend of mine got to help teach children at a local school.

All in all I loved my time abroad and if I were to do it over again I would still choose to go with AIFS!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would go for a year rather than just a semester!
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Chelsea
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Semester Ever

I went abroad with AIFS to Florence, Italy in the spring semester of 2018. Even before getting there the AIFS staff was really helpful with helping me with the application and my obtaining my visa.

I utilized their flight package option which included a 2 day trip to London before getting to orientation in Rome and then eventually Florence. This was so nice since I was able to make connections before classes even began. It also helped to know I was flying with other people in my program.

The Rome orientation was so cool! Every day after school orientation, we would go on tours of the city. A great start to the program.
The staff in Florence are absolutely amazing. They were so kind from the start and helped me with everything from course selections to more serious issues as well. They made school a safe and welcoming environment.
The classes were my favorite, I loved learning about so many different parts of Italian culture. From espresso to the vespa, I really learned a lot. The best part was you do a lot of hands on learning in the actual environment itself, not just from a textbook.

I stayed in a beautiful, spacious apartment located >1 minute from the Duomo, and >10 minutes from school itself. The meal plan was unreal it was so amazing. We were given breakfast vouchers and dinner vouchers as well as grocery store gift cards. The vouchers could be used at a ton of cafes and restaurants around town. (I didnt even get to them all) The food was always delicious.

My experience with AIFS in Florence was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

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Carly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made!

I studied abroad in the beautiful city of Florence in the Spring of 2018, and it was definitely the best decision I ever made. After traveling to Europe on a high school trip the summer before my Senior year, I knew that studying abroad was something that I wanted to do in college. As a Pre-Nursing student, I knew it might be a little more difficult for me to study abroad. I was determined to make it happen, and decided that I wanted to go in the Spring semester of my Sophomore year. I decided that I wanted to study abroad in Italy, because I have always dreamt of visiting places like Florence, Rome, and Venice. I was scared and nervous to be heading to another country completely by myself, but I am so glad I decided to do it. I ended up meeting such amazing people and met some of my best friends who I have been able to meet up with again since we have all been back in different states. I was able to see and experience so many things that I have only ever read about or seen pictures of, and learn so much about other cultures in the process. I was able to travel and see so much more of the world than I ever thought possible in four months. AIFS and the staff at Richmond in Florence did an amazing job of providing cultural activities and events for us students. I never would have done some of the things that I did had it not been for the school organizing the activities, such as attending the world-famous Carnivale in Viareggio (truly and unforgettable experience!). One of the best parts of the Florence program in my opinion is the meal plan. Being able to experience dining in authentic Italian restaurants became one of the highlights of my experience abroad and became a routine for my friends and I. One of my favorite parts of a typical day in Florence was getting to go out to dinner with my friends, enjoy amazing food, and create memories. I could not imagine my semester abroad without the nights spent at our favorite restaurants, all thanks to the meal plan! Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made, and if I could recommend it to anyone and everyone I absolutely would!

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Samantha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Program to Study Abroad in Italy with!

I studied abroad in Florence, Italy for the spring semester of 2018, and I can confidently say it was the best decision I ever made! Florence is not only a culturally rich city, but the people are friendly, and the food is to die for! The city and the food were not the only reason I had a great time abroad, the program I chose to go with was the American Institute for Foreign Study and I truly believe they made my experience the best it could be. Here's why:

-Academics:
• Wide variety of classes available to choose from (I was a junior studying fashion when I went, and I was able to take all fashion related courses which kept me on track for graduation)
• Amazing Instructors (I LOVED all my professors and felt a personal connection to each one; it was obvious how much they cared for the students)
• Small class sizes (classes aren’t too large which made communicating with them when I needed extra help easy)

-Immersion:
• AIFS wants you to be immersed in the local culture!
• They set up dinners and lunches to allow students to mingle with locals their age
• Almost every day AIFS has different cultural activities students can participate in for free or at a low cost (ex: Gelato tours, discounted tickets to the opera, cooking classes, etc)
• AIFS allows students to have an “Italian Buddy” during their semester (A local who has volunteered to show students around the city, help students practice their Italian, and be their buddy!)
• Program also includes a 2-day stopover in London and a week in Rome

-Food and Safety:
• The best part of the program is the food plan! AIFS gives students meal tickets each month which work at tons of restaurants all over the city. It’s a great way to explore the city, try new things and save money!
• AIFS provides students with a number they can call at any time if they are ever in trouble (I never felt unsafe during my time in the city!)

Overall, I loved my time in Florence, and if I were to go back in time and do it again I would without question still choose AIFS!

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Alexandra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying Abroad Saved My Life

I decided to study abroad spring of my sophomore year of college. I had always wanted to, and it was something I considered when looking at colleges. My sophomore year was incredibly challenging. I had a heavy class schedule and was involved all over campus. I began to lose myself in all of it. I needed a break. So I decided to study abroad to get away, explore a new place, and most importantly, find myself again. I knew I wanted to go to Italy, since that's where my family originates from. I met with the study abroad office on campus, picked my program and made it happen. I fully believe it was the best decision I've ever made, to study abroad. I met so many new friends, traveled to some beautiful places and was able to do some soul searching. I had never been to Europe before so I definitely took advantage of that, traveling to six new countries. I was ahead of required course at my home university so I took class in Italy that allowed me to indulge in the culture of my new home. Being away from home and my friends at school allowed me to focus on myself and focus on what I needed. It allowed me to appreciate the connections I did have at home, and give attention to the areas that may have needed growth. I allowed myself to be selfish that semester. I did not only what I needed to do, but what I wanted to do. I had been so caught up in the pressures of work and school at home that I had forgotten how to enjoy myself. I can remember my trip to Cinque Terre. When I stepped off the train into the sunlight, could smell the ocean, I was so overwhelmed with so much happiness, I actually teared up a little. I couldn't remember the last time I was that happy. Studying abroad really allowed me to come full circle and fall in love with school and life again.

What would you improve about this program?
Everything was perfect. I just wanted to travel more and more. If they could build more excursions into the included trips it would only make it better. I never wanted to stop traveling.
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Haley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It was everything I wanted and so much more...

Cities become your home when you get to share the city to your family and friends. One of the best 'aha' moments I had while abroad was when my mom got to visit me about half way through the semester. We were walking around the city and I was sharing everything that I knew about it, simply going on and on about how marvelous it was and why. I would talk about the Duomo and the small piazza by my apartment. My mom was impressed that I not only knew all of this information, but I knew every which way to turn while we were walking. She finally said that "Wow. This truly has become your new home." And it was simple moments like these that I truly miss the most about my time in Florence, Italy.

I had always known going in to college that I wanted to study abroad for a semester sometime during my four years. I chose Italy and immediately also chose Florence because I appreciated that it was a vibrant booming city but also a small city, in hopes that it would feel homey. I wanted to be in a place where another language was spoken. It turned out that many of the cafes I would go into often, the workers would want to help you learn Italian and would help you as you mumbled the little Italian you knew to order a cappuccino.

My next step was choosing which program I wanted to study abroad with. I was initially drawn towards AIFS (American Institute of Foreign Study) because, 1. It was an affiliate program for my school (University of Alabama), 2. It had a great flight package that would allow me to spend 3 days in London prior to arriving in Italy 3. It had a meal plan package that had great reviews and 4. It appeared to include a lot for the cost that was similar to other programs.

I ultimately chose AIFS and all I can say is AIFS went above and beyond everything I expected. It started off with the great flight package which included a 3 day all-inclusive trip to London and then a 5 day orientation in Rome. I really liked having an orientation in another city because in the morning, we would have orientation, and then in the afternoon, we got to explore the city, go the Vatican, etc.

The meal plan WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! There is no better way to experience the culture of Italy than being able to eat at about 25 different restaurants throughout the city each night. Each restaurant ranged from a meal "gift card" or a set menu. And these restaurants had incredible food. It may have helped me gain a few pounds, but I also got to explore some of Italy's best food for no price. I know so many other students studying abroad that ended up cooking pasta and sauce for dinner every night to save money, whereas my friends and I got to go out to eat each night of the week.

AIFS also had an incredible and friendly staff to help you out if you need them, and planned many social events including volunteering the local schools, colleges, etc.; social nights with local Italians to practice your Italian and meet other students; free trips to the Italian country side as well as a 3 day trip to Venice; and even got to stay right on the river in an Italian style apartment. I’m telling you, AIFS did an incredible job of making sure we had every opportunity to fully engage in the Italian culture and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. With that, I urge anyone reading this to go for it and GO STUDY ABROAD.

What would you improve about this program?
I genuinely couldn't have asked for such a great program because it had everything I wanted and so so much more. The only area where the program could be improved is possibly making it more clear that choosing a home-stay will more than likely be with another fellow american. I was nervous to do a home-stay because I was unsure whether I wanted to be in a stranger's home alone. However, most of the people that did do a home-stay was paired with another american. I would suggest making that more clear. I ended loving my staying in my apartment right on the Arno river.
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Bridgette
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AIFS Semester in Florence

One of my favorite stories from abroad comes from the week my family visited me. I want to start by saying that your goal abroad should be to make friends with anyone you meet and try to brighten their day.

We walked into a restaurant and were seated by a waiter who wasn't exactly rude, but he wasn't very friendly either. My family is a little overwhelming (even though there were only five of us) and we can be pretty loud. As the waiter left to get our drinks, my dad says "We are going to make him love us by the end of this dinner". We all laughed and agreed thinking that we could at least get him to smile maybe and have a conversation that consisted of more than a couple words.

We started off by asking his name and what his favorite dish was. We eventually asked him where he was from, where his favorite place in Sorrento was, about his family and other easy questions. Little by little he would share more with us. I think he especially loved when we asked his opinions on dishes we ordered.

He loved my sisters and me and by the end of the night he was kissing the three of us on the cheek! He gave us postcards from the restaurant and was extremely flattered when we asked if he could sign them. We then asked to get a picture and he was adorably happy to.

I like to share this story to encourage people to get to know the locals and others around them. Your immersion in the culture that you are visiting or studying in is completely up to you and you get out what you put in. Make it your goal to make friends with everyone you meet including drivers, waiters, hotel employees, anyone! Expanding horizons is what being abroad is about!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish it had been easier to plan my transportation after the program. What was really nice about AIFS was that they included a flight package if you wanted. However, you had to know when you were coming back and where you were flying out of before the program started. I had a feeling I would want to travel after the program ended, but I didn't know for how long, where to, or if I would for sure be able to. When I ended up deciding to travel for three more weeks after my program, I ended up having to spend a lot more to buy a new ticket because it would have costed me more to change the ticket I already had booked.
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Brit
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience I could've asked for

My study abroad experience was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. The staff for Richmond was fantastic and helped us ease into the culture. I loved experiencing the culture and being able to travel to so many different countries. I would have loved to spend more time there. I made so many friends that are the only ones that understand what the experience was really like. I couldnt have asked for anything more from the program or the living situation they provided me with. The best 5 months of my life!

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Shirley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Olives, old men and

December 1st, 2006, generally a wintery day to me, was sunny and warm and we got the chance to go picking olives. Two old gentlemen workers didn't think a bunch of females could work like they did and they grumbled in Italian about it. By the time we quit mid afternoon, they were impressed. Old doors were laid flat on saw horses, tablecloth thrown on, and a rustic lunch was served outdoors. These two old men were smiling, and although they didn't speak English, and none of our group spoke Italian enough to know what they were saying most of the time, we understood the camaraderie that grew that day as they kept pouring us more wine and offering more food. It is one of my favorite memories of my time in Florence.
I felt at home in Firenze. I felt safe. I felt like I could live the rest of my life in Italy and be happy. The best thing I ever did in my life was to choose Florence for study abroad.

What would you improve about this program?
More hosted adventures. Or at least more info. Most weekends were on our own. Which was fine but I feel like I missed a lot mostly because of not knowing where to go, especially close by. Did Cinque Terra, French Riviera, Rome, Venice (awesome!!!! I'm so lucky!) but several weekends were spent roaming around Florence. Years later I realized I missed a lot.
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Chris
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad helped paved the path to the teacher I am today.

The summer I spent in Florence was the best summer of my life. Not only did it open my eyes to another culture and a group of friends that I am still in contact with, it also helped me know that I need to be a teacher. In college, I had the faint idea that being a teacher is what I should do after college. Coming back from Florence I was a new person, I had this sense of being not only a citizen in my community, but I saw the importance of being a global citizen. I knew after that I needed to help student understand the world around them and the importance of being a global citizen.
My students today receive the eye opening experiences I received from my world travels. They love hearing about all these different cultures and always want to learn more (but sadly we just do not have the time for every story). I have had students who hated social studies before my class. After the year I have converted some of those students into lifelong cultural learners.
The impact this study abroad trip doesn't just impact my life, it impacts upwards of 150 students each year. Over the course of my teaching career, my study abroad trip in Florence will impact thousands of students. From my stories and my recommendations, I have created novice travelers. Just from my first year of teaching, I influenced 3 students to travel last summer.
I have the AIFS study abroad program to thank for that. Without the experience and friendships I created, I not only would know why I am a teacher, but I would not have the same ability to change over 100 lives every single year.

What would you improve about this program?
The one thing I would see is as in imporvement is an extensive list of cultural events in Florence. Events that you could only see, and experence, in Florence.
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Vianca
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

You'll fall in love with Florence

Florence is the most magical city of all time! I advise anyone studying abroad in Europe to go there. AIFS was right by the Piazza Santa Croce as well as our apartment which was absolutely amazing!! They were so helpful with everything we needed and gave the best travel advice on which ever country we were visiting for the weekend. If I can I would go back to Florence and study abroad with them again!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish my time is Florence was longer
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Gabriella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible

I cannot rave enough about my study abroad experience with AIFS last spring semester. The greatest thing about the program was the staff. They helped make an easy transition for the students into a new country. They were also incredibly friendly and supportive. This program gave me the freedom to feel independent, but still go to the staff if I had any questions or concerns. The meal plan was also an incredible addition to this program. My friends and I could not get enough of some of the restaurants included in the meal tickets. Overall, I recommend this program to anyone thinking about studying in another country.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe offer more meal vouchers to those not traveling during breaks or holidays
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Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Experience of a Lifetime!

As a Spring 2014 Florence alum, I have no doubt that AIFS was the best program I could've chosen to help me fulfill my nearly lifelong dream of studying abroad. And even now--half a year removed from my experience--there's not a day that goes by that I don't think back to my unforgettable time in Florence and the (what seems like) entire lifetime's worth of happy memories I created there.

To start, my favorite parts about the program were the meal plan and the almost daily activities/excursions AIFS offered once we arrived in Italy. The meal plan was a really great way to experience the food culture of Italy without breaking the bank--with our breakfast/lunch and dinner cards, my friends and I were able to dine at fancy restaurants we wouldn't have been able to afford off plan, grab a quick panino or pizza to go, buy fresh produce at the local fruit stand, go out for aperitivo (which is kind of like the Italian version of happy hour), go grocery shopping, and even buy cocktails at local bars. In addition, almost daily AIFS gave us the option of participating in cultural immersion activities such as attending soccer games, gelato tours, cooking and baking classes, wine tastings, the opera and ballet, and day-long excursions to various destinations throughout Italy. With the help of these activities, I felt I was able to come away from my abroad experience with an excellent grasp on Italian culture and daily Florentine life.

Overall, the AIFS program in Florence made the necessary accommodations for us students to live an extremely comfortable life in Italy without holding our hand, hovering, or babying us through the entire process. I had envisioned gaining invaluable independent living skills from my abroad experience--the last thing I wanted to be was dependent on my program in any way. For that reason, I really appreciated that AIFS took care of the hard stuff for us--arranging our airfare, setting us up in apartments, providing us with meal options, helping us locate doctors if we got sick, etc.--but then set us free to do our own thing as we pleased. With AIFS, you can be as independent as you want to be, but there's always an incredible support system to fall back on if you find yourself having trouble, and that was great to know.

I would enthusiastically recommend AIFS to anyone who is interested in studying abroad!

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Jaleesa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

2009 Spring Semester Experience

I'm still buzzing from this experience five years later. Living in Siena for three weeks, being independent in a foreign country, language immersion and the personal attention of the teachers.. oh yeah!! and all the most delicious Italian food on my regular food plan from school..

It was amazing. I sometimes wake up thinking I have just come back, but I have lived so much more since then and even traveled back to Europe this year to explore more and met Italians who I could STILL speak Italian.

All in all, if I was in undergrad I would definitely do this program again. In fact, they should create one specifically for graduate students and one for professionals. C'MON!