Approaching Florence

Arrival

  • You must arrive in Florence on the arrival date indicated on the Key Dates page.
  • Orientation activities begin the day after your arrival. They consist of a series of meetings, talks and outings, including a walking tour in Florence as well as a day in the Chianti (the countryside famous for its wines and olive oil).
  • Orientation represents a truly exciting part of your Florentine sojourn and it is a crucial time to learn more about the Program, to bond with your Stanford peers, and to begin to understand the city, its inhabitants and its culture.
  • During orientation you will also get to know the staff and your "Friends a Firenze" to get the kind of solid preparation you will need to make the most of your time here.

NOTE: If you choose to arrive early or stay after the end of the program, you are responsible for arranging your own temporary housing.

Accommodations and Meals

  • Housing is provided for the duration of the quarter from the arrival date through the last day of residence, as indicated in the program calendar.
  • Students are placed in homestays, located in residential areas throughout the city. Living with an Italian family is a truly unique experience, one that gives you a "home away from home" while enabling you to learn about Italian life and culture from the privileged vantage point of an insider. In fact, many of our past students consistently report that living with an Italian family was a true privilege and the highlight of their time in Florence.
  • Before coming to Florence, students will be asked to complete a detailed online form. The information you share will enable us to match you with the host family that best suits your preferences and needs.
  • All program participants will be on a 19-meals-per-week plan. Breakfasts and dinners are provided by the host family daily with the exception of dinner on Saturday. You will receive a meal allowance for weekday lunches and Saturday night dinners. Vegetarian and special dietary needs will be easily and happily accommodated.
  • Additional homestay information is available on the Homestay FAQ page.

Computing and Library Access

  • Palazzo Capponi features wireless Internet access, along with access to computers, printers and scanners all located in the beautiful and comfortable Cardinal Lounge and Armor Hall.
  • Laptops and digital cameras are available for checkout on a short-term loan basis.
  • All host families provide wireless Internet access in their homes.
  • The Florence center houses a small, highly specialized library with approximately 6,500 volumes. Main subject areas include Art History, Cinema, History, Political Science and Italian Language and Literature with various sub-categories in each field. The excellent collection of books and films at the Florence Center serves as a good starting point for academic research before heading out to the city's wonderful local libraries.

Health and Safety Services

We have an agreement with a private hospital in Florence and visits with the general practitioner are free of charge. We also have a psychiatrist on retainer. Members of the staff are reachable on the Program's mobile phone 24 hours, 7 days a week and are available to assist students in the event of an emergency.

Meeting People

In order to become more easily integrated in Florentine life and to meet Italians, it is critical that you get involved in an extracurricular activity. For example, past students have found that participating in the "Friends a Firenze"program and getting involved in public service, sports, or music are truly the best ways to meet locals.

Indeed, in any given quarter students get involved in the local scene by playing on a sports team or coaching sports teams for children, by volunteering teaching English at an elementary school, or working with a charity organization. In our experience, students find these activities incredibly rewarding both for their personal growth as well as for their social life in Florence. Please work with the Program’s staff and enlist their help in finding the right extracurricular activity for you and don't hesitate to ask them for advice on how to meet your Florentine peers.

  • "Friends a Firenze" Program - The "Friends a Firenze" program is an ideal opportunity to meet college-aged Italians. "Friends a Firenze" are local students who are eager to meet their American counterparts. If you are interested in participating, please indicate this on your orientation form.
  • Volunteer Opportunities - Public service activities are also a wonderful way to gain entry into Florentine life and to give something back to the community  and to the city that has been hosting our Program for over fifty years. There are a number of opportunities from which you can choose depending on your interests and skills. You might opt to work as a docent and lead tours at local museums and monuments; or you might find it more rewarding to lend a hand to teachers at schools or daycare centers, and offer a meal to those in need. For a selected list of volunteer opportunities in the fields of Art, Children, Environment, International Cooperation, Medical, Poverty/Immigration, Sports and Women, please click here. For more information on volunteering in Florence, please send us an e-mail.

City Life

Florence, a city with a population numbering approximately half a million, is situated in Tuscany, almost directly in the middle of the Italian peninsula. Known as a cultural, artistic, and historical center of Italy, Florence bustles with industry and crafts, commerce and culture, and art and science. The birthplace of banking, Florence also has a strong history of mercantile trade and a heritage of education; the city has been host, on and off, to a university since the time of Charlemagne.

Florence is an ancient city that retains much of its old-world charm and yet it is a truly modern town. Echoes of its Renaissance past, an astonishing legacy of sculpture, architecture, and painting, are juxtaposed with modern Italian culture. Some of the city’s most famous sites draw thousands of visitors and scholars each year, such as:

  • Ponte Vecchio
  • Brunelleschi’s Duomo
  • The Uffizi Gallery
  • The Galleria dell’Accademia (home of Michelangelo’s David)
  • Piazza della Signoria
  • Medici Chapels
  • Palazzo Pitti
  • Galileo Museum
  • Modern Art Gallery
  • Marino Marini Museum
  • Contemporary Art Museum (Prato)

At any given time of the year the city is buzzing with activity and hosts important international fashion fairs, concerts, sports events and celebrations and the city's many palazzi and piazze become striking venues for countless initiatives.

Since the downtown area draws so many tourists and students from all over the world, increasingly Florentine families have been retreating to nearby neighborhoods to escape the multitudes that come to enjoy the beauty of the city.  Consequently, the homestay arrangements for Stanford students are typically outside the historic center and students find that living outside the city center greatly increases their contact with locals, facilitating language and culture acquisition.

Florence is extremely safe compared to U.S. cities of the same size and its very manageable size affords students the privilege of becoming members of a rather intimate community. Students are, however, encouraged to use discretion while in Florence. The City of Florence and the U.S. Consulate are actively engaged in ensuring the safety and security of all its residents, and especially of study abroad students, particularly at night.