Ciao, welcome students! by Ellen Miller

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Welcome students, to a new semester and a new year in Florence. As you learn your way through the city streets of Florence, let Florence is You take you on a cultural adventure through the city. Are you feeling a little overwhelmed? First things first, catch up on sleep to beat the jet lag, and then come back here to hit the ground running.

It can seem overwhelming at first with so much to do, having just arrived in Florence with only a couple of suitcases. But one of the first things that you probably want to do is buy food. There are numerous grocery stores around the city center, so it is only a matter of finding which one is closest to you. For fresh fruits and vegetables, however, hit the Mercado Centrale near San Lorenzo. It offers a wide selection of produce as well as fresh pasta, breads and cheeses. And the prices are extremely reasonable.

If you are not set up with internet yet, there are various internet cafes around the city where you can pay a few euros for a set amount of time. You can also consider taking your passport to get a library card at a public library here, in particular at the Oblate, where there is a great outdoor seating area, cafe and free wifi for library card holders for an hour or two a day. In a city that often charges more to stay seated for longer, it is also a great place to go hang out with friends.

Don’t forget as you are walking around that red street numbers denote businesses and blue and black numbers are typically for residences. Don’t be surprised if the numbers switch directions along with the street. Getting lost in such a small city is part of the experience!

There are many different options of where to spend your time in Florence—for the time that you are in Florence, that is! Museums abound and there is a handy student-priced discount card that you can purchase at the Uffizi and the Accademia that is worth the money if you plan to visit many museums. It includes most of the major state-run museums as well as some other museums such as the San Marco Museum. Get off the beaten path! Don’t miss the Uffizi, but explore smaller museums as well. As for the major attractions, try to go early in the semester before summer tourism season starts, as you will save yourself much waiting in line. At the museums included on the card, you are allowed to cut the line, another benefit.

Outside the Florence city center lie Piazza Michelangelo and the Tuscan hill town of Fiesole, both a short bus trip or a hike from Florence. They each offer sweeping views of the city of Florence and are worth a trip. From Piazza Michelangelo you can also hike up to San Miniato, a beautiful hilltop church. In Fiesole, don’t miss the ancient Etruscan ruins.

When you are ready to go further afield, there are tons of options for exploring beyond Florence. Student tour companies abound in the city, and offer trips leaving direct from the city’s main train station, including many weekend trip options that cut down on your planning time. For the independent traveler, there are many budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet that allow you to cheaply hit multiple countries over the course of the semester or on spring break. But be sure not to miss out on Florence because you are traveling so much! The city has so much to offer.

While you are here, be sure to grab a new copy of Florence is You for the latest art exhibitions and events in the city! We hope that you have a wonderful semester and come to love Florence as we do!

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