The Official Abroad In Florence Guide
First of all, if you are going abroad in Florence, welcome to the best semester of your life.
Abroad is the most amazing experience, and it goes by in the snap of a finger. Cherish every moment, eat all the pasta, and NEVER pass up an opportunity to take an adventure.
Even if you’re not specifically going to Florence, please feel free to use this guide as a reference, as many of the tips still will apply to your experience. Below I have explained & linked all the exact items I used during my trip (or extremely similar), and also listed my personal recommendations for restaurants, hotels, shopping, and more. So let’s get started!
Packing / preparation / move-in
Packing Your Luggage
For packing I used Ziploc air sealed bags for sweaters, jackets, etc. Make sure when you pack you split your items between two of your large bags, because the airport is unreliable and some people (only some) didn’t get their luggage until the following day (but seriously don’t stress about this- you WILL get your luggage, even if it doesn’t get there the day of, they will deliver it to your apartment for you).
For the carry-on, make sure it’s within the size requirements for European airlines. You can check the airline’s website, but the bag I suggested is safe for ALL airlines. Lastly, bring a few cross-body bags, but remember that most people buy either a designer bag or a bag from the leather market within the first few weeks of being there, so you will have that too if you decide to buy one.
Credit Card & Bank
Before you leave, make sure you call your bank to tell them when you are leaving and coming home from abroad. Give them details about any countries you are thinking about going to, so that you don’t have issues with fraud at any point.
For phone plans, you can either decide to get an international plan, or get an SD card. I decided to get an SD card at Vodafone when I got to Italy, but if I could go back I would’ve gotten an international plan. I had a lot of issues with my data and service, and it was very stressful at times.
Arriving in Florence
When you arrive, there will be Wells staff helping direct you. You will get into a cab with your roommates and head to your apartment. I suggest heading straight to get your sheets, comforter, pillows, towels, etc. You can get everything you could possibly need at a department store called Coin. You can even get your flat iron, blow dryer, and any other necessities at Coin as well.
packing items / luggage
2 large roller suitcases
1 carry-on roller bag
1 zipper-shut tote bag: for class & weekend travel
3-4 cross-body bags
Bring a few color/style variations that can transition from day to night (Topshop has the best for trendy/cheap)
1 Regular-sized daytime handbag
3 Luggage tags
Ziploc Space Bags (10-Pack)
1-2 Toiletries Bags
Individual Jewelry Pouches
They separate necklaces, rings, bracelets to prevent tangling
ID & student ID (and 2 copies of each)
Passport (and 2 copies)
Phone + charger
Laptop + charger
Camera + camera bag + camera charger + memory card
Most American flat irons, blow dryers, and curlers are too powerful for the Italian outlets, so I suggest you wait and buy that stuff one when you get there. With that said, try to bring as many toiletries/cosmetics as you can because it’s a pain when you’re moving in having to lug a bunch of shopping bags back to your apartment from the stores.
Hair ties & scrunchies
Toothbrush & spare
Nail polish remover
How many of each clothing item you bring is personal opinion, but keep in mind there are stores like Zara and H&M that you will for sure go shopping at. Leave lots of room to buy stuff if you tend to shop a lot. Also note: I didn’t wear a dress or romper the entire time I was abroad, so if you want to bring one you can, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
Also, you will buy a leather jacket eventually, but I suggest bringing one so that you don’t need to get it right away.
1-2 pairs of black jeans
4-5 pairs of regular jeans
4-5 pairs of leggings
2-3 pairs of joggers
6 pairs of jean shorts
A few pairs of other comfy shorts
2-3 skorts or skirts
Long sleeve tops
1 heavy winter coat
I brought my Sam jacket, but don’t suggest bringing anything heavier than that
1 leather jacket/going-out jacket
1-2 faux fur jackets
1-2 other jackets (bombers, suede, etc.)
Sweatshirts (2-3 pullovers, 1-2 zip-ups)
Make sure they are easy to walk in, the cobblestone streets are easy to trip on
1 pair of gym sneakers/trainers
1-2 pairs of slip-ons/loafers
Comfortable warm boots (Timberlands, Doc Martens)
3 casual booties/boots
4 fashion sneakers (Puma, Superga, etc.)
You can never have too many of these; you’ll live in them abroad. Comfort is key.
2 pairs of sandals
Comfortable platform wedge
DO NOT bring anything you seriously care about- it’s not worth it. Unfortunately, my apartment was robbed, and some of my roommates lost very valuable items. Leave anything of high value at home.
4-5 Bathing suits
Working out in Florence is all about personal preference. I didn’t feel the need to join a gym because of how active the lifestyle is there- you literally walk everywhere. In the winter, I stayed active by walking to class/anywhere else I needed to go. You can also go for walks/runs- I did this when the weather got warmer, and running around the Arno River is especially beautiful. There are gyms that some people chose to join (a popular one is KLAB on Via de Conti), but I only suggest doing this if you are really into fitness and trust yourself to make the trip. Between traveling and class, there’s not a ton of time to work out, but it is for sure possible if you make time to do so.
4 sports bras
Statue Of David
If you go on a normal day you don’t have to buy tickets ahead of time. If you plan on going over a busy weekend, buy tickets online ahead of time, because they run out fast.
It’s nice to visit this spot (located on the other side of the river) on a nice day. There are views of the whole city, and it’s nice to go and drink, eat, and relax. Many people go to watch the sunset.
I went to the Ufizzi 3 separate times while living in Florence. It’s by far my favorite museum. It takes a long time to go through, so make sure you plan ahead, and I also suggest buying tickets online ahead of time. It is the most stunning art and architecture I’ve ever seen, and there are also stunning views of the city and the Ponte Vecchio.
I never climbed the Duomo, but my dad and sister did and enjoyed it. Many people chose to go at the end so that you could actually recognize the parts of the city you were looking at from above. It’s also better during warmer weather, but make sure you go during the weekday when it’s less crowded.
This is my second favorite place in the city to visit. It’s a beautiful garden with stunning views located behind the Pitti Palace. I suggest going to the central market, getting wine, cheese, and snacks, then sitting on the grass inside the gardens and hanging out on a nice day. Bring a blanket to sit on!
The Gucci Museum was another place I went to 3 separate times and really enjoyed. It’s a super quick museum, and is fun if you appreciate fashion or luxury brands.
The Ponte Vecchio is the famous giant bridge on the river (pictured above). You will end up crossing it and going to it many times while you're living in Florence- it’s hard to miss.
San Lorenzo Leather Market
The leather market is a street lined with vendors selling bags, wallets, and other leather items that you can bargain for. I would always bring visitors here, and it’s great for buying gifts too. When you want to buy yourself a leather jacket or bag, I suggest going to Massimo Leather, which is a store many people like to go to, located a few minutes from the market.
The Central Market
The Central Market is located right next to the leather market, and many people who have any food or wine classes have them inside there (I did and thought it was so cool). You also can go here at any time of day for coffee, amazing food, or just to hang out and have a glass of wine. It’s even fun to go with friends for lunch or dinner. There’s a vegan place that has fresh juices that I always went to. You will recognize it when you walk in.
For grocery shopping, I suggest going to Conad. They have a few locations, and you can get everything from snacks to prepared meals and deli meats there. This is also where you can buy plasticware, pots/pans, and toiletries like toothpaste, tampons, and body wash.
There’s a Sephora located right near the Duomo, but you can also buy makeup inside Coin (the department store previously mentioned). I never ran out of makeup abroad, and really suggest you bring extra of everything so you don’t need to buy more.
There are leather shoe stores around the city that you can walk into, but I personally went to either Coin, RINASCENTE (a higher-end department store) or Pino’s which has some really cute stuff. They also have Timberland, Puma, and a few other popular brands, but in general, Florence isn’t the place for trendy shoes, so bring as many as you can.
For clothing, there are tons of options. As mentioned above, you can go to Coin or Rinascente for a more mall-like experience. For trendy and well-priced clothing items, go to Brandy Melville, Zara or H&M. If you want to visit a trendy/young boutique, go to Subdued, which is similar to Brandy Melville, just higher in price. They have cute stuff for going-out and other lots of other essentials as well. For any leather items, go to Massimo or The Leather Market, as mentioned above.
food & restaurants
The closest thing you’ll get to Starbucks/American coffee. It’s located right outside of Duomo, and they also have amazing muffins and other breakfast items like fruit cups, yogurt, bagels, etc. Easy place to quickly stop before class.
Great for brunch; amazing avocado toast
I went here once a day, no joke. Smoothies, juices, make-your-own salads, bowls, avocado toast, iced coffee.
The Oil Shoppe
Another daily place that is great for quick bites or take-out. Make-your-own salads, the most unreal iced coffee, paninis, smoothies, and even omelettes.
My #1 favorite panini place.
Great for brunch with friends; lots of healthy options.
Another amazing brunch place; unreal omelettes and other healthy breakfast/lunch items.
Little cafe famous for their crepes and other sweet treats.
All’ Antico Vinaio
The most famous panini place aside from Antico Noe. I hated it, but many people were obsessed and would get it all the time.
I took my parents here for lunch; great location right in the center of the city, and although it’s in a touristy area, it is well-liked by locals too.
This is if you’re looking for a nicer/fancier brunch. It’s beautiful inside and they have bagels, avocado toast, eggs, etc.
Osteria Il Gatto E La Volpe
The penne vodka & chicken parm are crowd favorites (and my favorites too).
Trattoria Za Za
I took my family here and they loved it. The menu is huge- I would usually order the chicken and potatoes.
Probably the most famous famous and loved restaurant in Florence. Must take parents here. I would get the seafood pasta, but the pear ravioli is the most popular dish. They also give you a complementary glass of champagne and a huge appetizer platter so bring your appetite!
I never even made it here but this is the place with the heart-shaped pizza. It’s located on the other side of the river, but from what I’ve heard is worth trying.
Osteria Santo Spirito
This is another place I didn’t get a chance to see, but some of my roommates brought visitors here and enjoyed it.
Great for a casual dinner- they have a large menu and amazing pasta and pizza dishes.
Trattoria 4 Leoni
Never made it here, but it is a very well-liked place.
The Central Market
As mentioned above, you can go for lunch/dinner/aperitivo/dessert and they have tons of different options.
If you’re craving an asian fusion type of place, this is the go-to. Their dumplings, noodles, and soups are really good.
Another very famous place to go to- known for their John Travolta pasta.
Great place for bringing family or even going to with friends. I personally loved their pizza, but I’ve heard great things about all their food.
If you want a beautiful view of the Arno, go here. You can just go to relax and have wine, but you can also order a meal too.
Located on the roof of the hotel my parents stayed at when they visited (Hotel Continentale). Non-hotel guests can enjoy the rooftop which has a stunning view of the river and the cocktails are amazing.
Perfect place to hang with friends and get cocktails. Cool atmosphere.
The best sushi option in Florence- on other side of river.
Another sushi option, more casual and quick, but not as good as Momoyama.
Trattoria 13 Gobbi
In my top 3 favorites. Rigatoni is to-die-for.
Acqua Al 2
Known for their blueberry and balsamic steak. I don’t eat steak, so I would get this spicy pasta in a red sauce. The macaroni vodka sauce dish is also unreal and was my sister’s favorite when she visited.
Osteria Tres Panches
Only has 3 benches in the entire restaurant.
For when you’re craving Mexican food. They have margaritas, chips and guac, etc.
Amazing flavors of gelato and convenient location right next to Duomo.
Gelateria dei Neri
They have amazing gelato, and lots of sorbet options which is personally my favorite.
For when you’re craving froyo- it’s unreal.
Note About Gelato: In many touristy areas they try to rip you off by serving non-authentic gelato. How to Tell- BAD GELATO is usually stacked very high and comes in more vibrant or fake-looking colors. GENUINE GELATO is more naturally-colored and is not overflowing out of the stand.
To get food delivered, you can use a couple different delivery services. They deliver from literally every restaurant under the sun. The one I used the most was Deliveroo but I also would use Foodora sometimes. Below I’ve listed the restaurants I would order from the most (during the week I ordered in for dinner most nights).
Osteria Il Gato e la Volpe
This place was mentioned above for restaurants to go to, but it also is great to order in. I would get either the lemon chicken or the penne vodka.
I discovered this amazing vegan place that has the best veggie burgers and potatoes. They have a bunch of different options, but if you enjoy vegan/vegetarian food or just want something healthier this is a great place to order from.
This poke place was another place I discovered, and it’s only offered as delivery. They have unreal make-your-own poke bowls- I would usually get a bowl with tuna, avocado, rice, seaweed salad, spicy mayo, and corn.
FirenZEN Noodle Bar
Same owner as above; I would get this when I was craving pad thai and dumplings. They have all types of asian-fusion dishes, and it’s actually really good.
I never needed to order Shake because I lived a 3 minute walk, but if you are farther from it I definitely suggest ordering. As mentioned above, tons of healthy options here.
Another place if your craving thai/asian. Their shrimp shumai is amazing, and they have all kinds of soups and noodle bowls.
King of Salads
This is a great option if you’re just craving a big make-your-own salad! They have everything imaginable including tofu!
If you want to order sushi, Miya is a great option. They have all the typical Japanese dishes.
Perfect for if you’re craving grilled chicken or a salad. They have all kinds of American food like burgers, fries, steak, wings, etc.
Lavenderia is the place to go if you ever need to do laundry or dry cleaning. Your apartment will have a washer/dryer but if for some reason there was an issue, Lavenderia is your best bet.
Maniboo is one of the better nail salons in Florence, but no matter where you go, I always suggest calling ahead to make an appointment. As a backup I would recommend Nails & Beauty Lounge Bar- it’s small but clean and quick.
Emergencies: Illness, Apartment Issues
If you ever are sick and need to see a doctor, you can just call, email, or text your program advisor. My two advisors were always available and they can send a doctor right to your apartment. If you have any issues with anything in the apartment or even have questions, this is another good reason to text/call/email your advisor. Basically when in doubt your advisor is the person to talk to.
Don’t stress about gaining weight.
Florence is an active city and you’ll soon realize the lifestyle there is much healthier than in America.
When you get there, add all your roommates locations right away.
This will help you stay safe and keep everyone in check.
Be careful of pick pocketing in touristy areas.
This is way more common in Rome than in Florence, but it’s better to be cautious.
Don’t walk alone at night.
Always travel in groups or have a buddy when you’re walking home from the clubs at night.
Walk & Explore
The best way to learn the city is to walk around and figure it out. Once you get the hang of it, you realize how small it is.
Although it’s annoying not to plan, abroad is a lot of last-minute traveling. Embrace that & don’t worry if you don’t have your weekends planned yet.
Do It All.
Abroad goes by so fast, so don’t put things off. If you want to do or see something, do it- don’t wait. Never pass up on seeing a new place, making a day trip, or exploring your own city.
& that’s all I’ve got! I know I have thrown a lot at you in this post, but I really wanted to fit it all in. I encourage you to leave any questions you have about Florence or going abroad in general in the comments below! I will do my best to answer all of them. Xx