As a study abroad student, living the Florentine life can be an incredibly rewarding experience filled with great food, amazing people, and new adventures. However, to truly get the local experience it can be helpful to focus on the culture itself. Otherwise it is very possible you'll end up with a semester abroad filled with memories of drunken kebabs and no Italian vocabulary. Here are some great ways to go about your life as a local in Florence while still enjoying your time as a student!
1. Take advantage of the artisanal products
Italy, like most European countries, thrives on the successes of their small businesses. So why not see what they have to offer? Instead of buying all of your groceries from Conad, try the Mercato at Santo Spirito that is held the first Sunday of every month. Or, for a more frequent option, head over to Mercato Centrale for other great local and fresh ingredients.
2. No cappuccino after breakfast
One of the surefire ways to get recognized as an American is to order a cappuccino after breakfast time. A very common all-day drink here in America is only paired with a breakfast cookie in the mornings in Italy. Instead, try ordering an espresso, or perhaps a caffè. Even a caffè Americano will still get you some stares... but not nearly as many as a cappuccino would at two in the afternoon!
3. Sweats are for suckers
Always dress to impress, or at least to be presentable. Not only does it help you look well-dressed, but it will also make you feel ready to tackle a day out in the beautiful city. Keep your outfit simple! Most Italians wear darker, solid colors to look more put together. Pants are always a great choice, but if leggings are your go-to, always make sure that your top is a little longer in the back.
4. No binge drinking!
This is the biggest way to get pegged as an American while abroad. While drinking to the point of pure inebriation is a common activity in the United States, you will never find a sloppy, belligerent Italian roaming the streets at 3 am.
5. Barter is always better
The practice of bartering is one frowned upon greatly in the US, but feel free to do so any where in Italy! Pick your base price and don’t argue any higher. You may even have to threaten to give up and start walking away to get your desired price, but doing so can save you a lot of euros, so don’t be afraid to try it out!6. Dolce far nienteThis phrase, meaning “the sweetness of doing nothing”, truly represents the Italian lifestyle. While it is important to experience the culture in your few short months abroad, remember that part of this culture is to take a step back, enjoy the relaxation, and have a glass of vino (or two!) in your favorite spot in the city. Don’t feel like you need to pack everything into one day or travel somewhere new every weekend! A low-key weekend in Florence can be just as fulfilling. Use this time to take in the great views like those of Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset, or meet some locals and get in some language practice!
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