Ciao, welcome students! by Ellen Miller


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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Da bambina sognavo di fare la giornalista e studiare fisica quantistica, poi mi sono laureata in Sociologia, soffermandomi sulle differenti tipologie di leadership attraverso le illuminanti opere di William Shakespeare. Qualche idea, però, deve essere stata ben chiara sin da allora perché la giornalista è ciò che faccio e amo fare da adulta. In qualità di Direttore artistico sono stata la prima donna ad aver diretto il Tepidarium del Roster al Giardino dell’Orticoltura di Firenze, la più grande serra in stile Liberty esistente in Italia e la più piccola d’Europa, costruita nel 1859 dall’Accademia dei Georgofili. Collaboro con gallerie e accademie d’arte, scuole, associazioni, musei, università e fondazioni, prevalentemente in Italia, Cina, Stati Uniti e Russia. Nel 2011 sono tra i fondatori dell’Associazione Acontemporaryart di cui sono Presidente; curo e organizzo esposizioni di artisti italiani e stranieri a Firenze, Roma, Venezia, Parigi, etc... Dal 2013 sono Direttore responsabile del giornale Florence is You, 20.000 copie cartacee ogni bimestre, aggiornamenti quotidiani online (, impostazione bilingue italiano-inglese e partners istituzionali da tutto il mondo. Nell’ottobre 2017 sono stata eletta Accademica d’Onore all’Accademia delle Arti del Disegno di Firenze, fondata nel 1563 da Giorgio Vasari e di cui Michelangelo fu primo Accademico. Volevo una macchina da scrivere americana, non una a caso, ma la Underwood, che è poi stata un regalo, decisamente degno di nota, di un fidanzato che per questo autentico merito è ora più di un fratello. Il motto preferito? Il latino “Per aspera ad astra”, ma anche il mediceo “Festina lente” come soleva dire Lorenzo il Magnifico. Anche Seneca ha dato alla mia vita il suo prezioso contributo: “Ignoranti quem portum petat nullus suus ventus est” (Lettere a Lucilio) ovvero “Non esiste vento favorevole per il marinaio che non sa a quale porto vuol approdare”. Più di un mantra, per me. Nella sostanza l’importante è avere le idee chiare e sapere cosa si vuole, da lì è tutto in discesa o, perlomeno, avremo compiuto il primo passo. Ho da sempre una passione per l’arte, pittura, scultura e fotografia espresse anche attraverso linguaggi molto diversificati, dal figurativismo di appannaggio propriamente tradizionale fino ad un lessico più astratto, a ricerche maggiormente concettuali. Scrivo di cultura, arte, cinema e viaggi, nell’ambito luxury travel e turismo enogastronomico. Sono appassionata di musica classica e jazz, con molteplici digressioni sul tema. Mi stanno molto a cuore le tematiche relative all’infanzia e all’educazione delle bambine. Amo i viaggi, anche quelli che non ho ancora fatto, la cioccolata fondente e la mia strepitosa torta di mele, ma, se devo essere sincera fino in fondo (ed ecco la nota del fashion editor che è in me), non posso vivere senza le scarpe di Manolo Blahnik, colui che più di ogni altro ha saputo amabilmente coniugare colore, seta e tacco 12.


Growing up I always dreamt of becoming a journalist or studying quantum physics. I ended up graduating in Sociology and focused on the different kinds of leaderships through the enlightening works of William Shakespeare. However, I must have already had some level of clarity, as being a journalist is what I do and what I love doing. As artistic director, I have been the first woman to direct the Tepidarium del Roster at the Giardino dell’Orticoltura in Florence, the largest Liberty-style greenhouse in Italy and the smallest in Europe, built in 1859 by the Accademia dei Georgofili. I collaborate with art galleries and academies, schools, associations, museums, universities and foundations, mainly in Italy, China, the United States and Russia. In 2011, I was among the founders of the Acontemporaryart Association, of which I am now President; I curate and organize art shows by both Italian and foreign artists in Florence, Rome, Venice, Paris, etc. Since 2013, I am the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Florence is You, a bimonthly bilingual publication (Italian – English) with institutional partners from all over the world that counts 20.000 paper copiesper issue, as well as daily updates online ( In October 2017 I was elected Academic Honouree at the Academy of the Arts of Drawing in Florence, founded in 1563 by Giorgio Vasari, and of which Michelangelo was the first Academic. I always wanted an American typewriter, but not any ordinary one, I wanted an Underwood, which I received as a gift, greatly appreciated, from a former boyfriend, who is now more than a brother to me. My favourite motto? The Latin expression “per aspera ad astra,” but also the Medicean “Festina lente,” as said by Lorenzo the Magnificent. Seneca also gave his precious contribution to my life with his: “Ignoranti quem portum petat nullus suus ventus est” (Letters to Lucilius) or “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.” This is more than a mantra to me. Fundamentally, I believe that it’s important to have a clear mind as to what you want, then the rest is all downhill, or anyways it’s a first step. I’ve always had a passion for art, painting, sculpture and photography, expressed even through very different languages, from more traditional and figurative art to more abstract lexicons, or even conceptual researches. I write about culture, art, cinema and travel, in the fields of luxury travel and food and wine tourism. I’m passionate about classical and jazz music, with multiple digressions on the subject... Very close to my heart are issues relating to childhood and the education of little girls. I love to travel – even those trips I have yet to take – dark chocolate and my fabulous apple pie, although, if I must be entirely true (and here is the fashion editor in me), I cannot live without the shoes by Manolo Blahnik, he who more than anyone else has been able to amiably combine colour, silk and 12-inch heels.


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