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Life in Florence


You must arrive in Florence exactly on the arrival date indicated in the program calendar. Orientation consists of a series of meetings, talks and outings. During orientation, you will meet faculty and staff, your language partners and get a thorough introduction to the program and to the city of Florence, its history and its current way of life.

NOTE: Students choosing to arrive early or stay on after the end of the program, are responsible for arranging their own temporary housing. Suggestions for affordable temporary accommodations will be provided during orientation on the Stanford campus.

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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 throughout the city. Living with an Italian family will be one of the most successful cultural experiences for students at the Program. It will enable them to learn about Italian life and culture from the privileged vantage point of an insider. Students will complete an online orientation form before coming to Florence and will be matched according to their preferences.

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. Vegetarian and special dietary needs will be accommodated.

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Meeting People

The best way to become integrated into life in Florence and not to live as one of its many tourists is to get involved in an activity. Stanford students have found that the Language Partner Program as well as active participation in a public service activity and in the Language Activities course are the best ways to meet locals.

Students who have chosen to play a sport with a local team, to teach English at an Italian public school or to coach children's sports have also found these activities incredibly rewarding both for their personal growth as and their social life in Florence. Please work with the Program's staff and enlist their help in finding the right extracurricular activity for you. Ask them also for advice on how to meet your Florentine peers.

Language Partner Program

The Language Partner Program is an ideal opportunity to meet college-age Italians. Language partners are University of Florence students who are eager to meet their American counterparts with whom they are matched, by our Language Resource Person, on the basis of shared interests. Usually, Language Partners get together once or twice a week in an informal setting. Students interested in this option should fill out the online forms.

Volunteer Opportunities

Public service activities are also a wonderful way to gain entry into Florentine life and to give something back to the community hosting our Program. Stanford students frequently volunteer at museums, schools, daycare centers and not-for-profit organizations.

Language Activities Course

In addition to (and not in substitution of) all the Stanford activities centered around language learning, students can and should take advantage of this unique set of scheduled events which will take place at either the Stanford Center or other locations throughout the city. Stanford students will be given a card that will enable them to participate in a number of different activities, some of which are co-organized with prestigious local institutions, supervised by our Language Instructor, Fiorenza Quercioli. Organized events range from tandem meetings to guided discussions with Italian students to special visits. It is certainly one of the best ways to master Italian while meeting Italian students. One unit of credit will be given to students who attend a certain percentage of planned activities. Auditors are encouraged and welcome.


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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 to a university since the time of Charlemagne.

Florence is an ancient city that retains much of its old-world charm. 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

While Florence has retained an extraordinary wealth of artifacts bearing witness to its centuries of ancient civilization, the city does not live solely on its past glories. It is an important contemporary center for artisanal, industrial, and commercial activity; the numerous exhibitions and events that are held regularly in Florence are testimony to this diversity.

Today, the center of Florence is not only a busy commercial hub but also welcomes tourists and students from all over the world. Increasingly, the Florentine families have been retreating to nearby neighborhoods to escape the multitudes that come to enjoy the beauty of the city, and consequently, the homestay arrangements for Stanford students are typically outside the historic center. Students find that living outside the city center greatly increases their contact with locals, facilitating language and culture acquisition.

Although Florence is extremely safe next to comparable US cities of the same size, students are encouraged to use discretion while in Florence. The City of Florence and the US Consulate are actively engaged in providing more security for study abroad participants, especially at night.

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