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Student Manual

Student Life & Development Department (SLD)

The Student Life & Development Department (SLD) is happy to welcome you to the city of Florence. The university is committed and open to diversity and the exchange of ideas and cultural experiences between students and staff. We welcome students, both degree-seeking and for study-abroad opportunities, and faculty from across the world to facilitate this interchange. In this booklet, you will find information about our services, housing information, cultural tips about life in Florence, information on how to become involved with the community, opportunities to expand your academic and personal growth, and much more. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the useful information provided by SLD.

Our Student Life Department is open to students on a walk-in basis to assist students. Our advisors are always available during office hours and also available after hours, in case of emergencies, through our Health and Safety Emergency phone. Our housing department is also available to assist students with any campus housing issues that may arise.

  2. Living in Florence
    1. Florence Facts
    3. Shopping & Day to Day
      2A.2.2.15 Shopping HABITS
  3. Getting Around
    1. TAXIS
    2. BUSES
    3. TRAMWAY
    4. TRAINS
    5.  AIRPORTS
  4. Housing
    1. ELECTRICITY AND UTILITIESre electricity is restored.
    2.  HEATING & A/C
  5. Health & Wellbeing
    1. Wellness & Medical Services
    3. Culture Shock
    4. Homesickness
      2A.2.5.6 Stress management
    6. Jet Lag
    1. CULTURAL Immersion
      2A.2.6.4 EATING OUT
    3. Tipping
  7. Extracurricular Activities
  8. Academic Support
    5. General rules for all Studio Arts classes
    6. Ceramics (all levels)
    8. Media Labs
    9. Photo Studio
    10. Darkroo
    11. Printing Lab


Course selection and registration procedures have been established for each student’s status and additional details pertaining to the course selection are communicated as part of the applicable acceptance process.

Class offerings, dates, times and deadlines and other important registration details specific to each session are published in that semester’s class schedule which is available online.

Not every course listed in the catalog is offered each session, please consult the website to view the updated list of courses offered for all academic sessions. All courses are taught in English unless otherwise indicated.

For further information please consult the full Academic policy in the Academic Catalog on our website.

Please note that some courses and departments have specific regulations regarding uniforms, equipment usage, and materials. Examples include courses related to culinary arts, photography, and fine arts. Regulations are provided by each department through course syllabi.

Students must remember that cooking classes will include various tasks which all students must carry out. Students are also required to participate in a polite and responsible way, abiding by the following:

Cooking classes will include all different types of recipes and students are expected to actively participate in all lessons regardless of personal likes or dislikes. Depending on seasonal availability, some ingredients and/or recipes might be subject to change.

Apicius is not a restaurant: by law, meals cannot be served, though small tastings are allowed. Therefore, students should not expect to eat a meal at the end of each class. The portions prepared in class are designed to teach various techniques and recipes, and to be tasted under the supervision of the chef in order to critique the student’s work and maximize the comprehension of the day’s lesson.

Food is not to be taken out of the kitchen/lab under any circumstance. In accordance with Italian health codes, it is strictly forbidden to take any leftover food out of the school, including any fully cooked food products and baked goods. Therefore, DO NOT take any food out of the kitchen at the end of class.

Students are not allowed to bring friends into kitchens for tasting after class nor enter in other classrooms to taste leftovers.

Refrigerators are not to be used by students to store personal food during class time. Any personal use of the kitchens by students is strictly forbidden.

All kitchens are off limits while class is not in session. Students are not allowed to enter the kitchens more than 15 minutes before their scheduled class begins, in order for the Apicius staff to properly clean and prepare for the lesson.

It is strictly forbidden to sit on kitchen stations.

Keep the station neat and orderly.

Wash all kitchen utensils and working stations. Students are responsible for kitchen utensils. The cost of any missing utensil will be shared by all students.

DO NOT leave the kitchen/lab when waiting for food to be ready.

Cell phones are not allowed in kitchens/labs and computers or tablets are off limits during class time.

Bags, backpacks, and jackets are to be left outside of the kitchens, in lockers or on the coat racks. Please, do not leave bags or jackets anywhere else.

Students will be provided an apron that must be worn during every cooking lab. The apron must always be clean and pressed. Students will not be allowed to attend class without the apron or with a dirty, unsanitary apron. The school will not provide a substitute apron.

Students are requested to wear long pants (no skirts or shorts) and closed shoes. Students cannot enter the labs with sandals or flip flops.

  • Each student enrolled in a Professional Culinary Arts Career Program will be provided with two chef’s jackets, a chef’s hat, two aprons, a dishrag, and a culinary kit at the beginning of the program.
  • Each student enrolled in a Baking & Pastry Career Program will be provided with two chefs jackets, a chef’s hat, two aprons, and a pastry kit.Each student is required to acquire chef pants and safety kitchen shoes (according to European safety laws) and come to class dressed in an appropriate manner.
  • Students can purchase additional Chef Jackets only at the authorized dealer: these jackets must be the exact same ones as those provided by the school (model, color, and presence of logos).
  • No student will be allowed in class without the authorized outfit.
  • In accordance with most countries’ health codes, all students must:
  • Wear a white chef’s jacket. The jacket must always be clean and pressed. Students will not be allowed to attend class with only an apron or a dirty, unsanitary jacket. The school will not provide a substitute jacket.
  • Wear a white chef’s hat and have all hair tied back in an appropriate manner. The school will not provide a substitute hat and students will not be allowed to attend class with inappropriate head-wear.
  • Wear appropriate black pants to class. Students
  • will not be allowed to attend class in shorts or skirts.
  • Wear appropriate footwear to class. Students will not be allowed in class wearing sandals or inappropriate shoes. It is recommended that students purchase a pair of safety kitchen shoes.
  • Have all hair tied back in an appropriate manner.
  • Wash hands before class and keep fingernails short.
  • Bring their own clean dishrags to class in order to keep their station neat and orderly.
  • Bring their set of knives to each cooking class, unless otherwise specified by the chef. The school will not provide knives to students who neglect to bring their knife kit to class. It is recommended that students purchase a case to transport knives to and from school.
  • Apicius promotes a responsible use of kitchen paper towels

Students enrolled in Studio Arts courses are required to abide by the following rules. Students are required to come to class dressed in an appropriate manner. Studio classes can dirty clothes, students are encouraged to dress accordingly.


General rules for all Studio Arts classes

Students must be aware that some tools (saws, hammers, cutters, drills) and materials (glues, glazes, sprays, etc.) may be hazardous. Students must obtain the instructor’s approval before utilizing these materials. Once instructed on proper use of such materials, students must always be careful and responsible for their use. Equipment cannot be used or operated by students who have not been trained to do so. Clay, plaster, and cement must always be kept outside of the sinks. Plumbing in the facilities must be well-monitored. If the sinks back up for example, students must notify the instructor/lab assistant immediately. Solvents and oil must not be thrown into the sink. These materials pollute the environment and need to be properly disposed of. Heavy items must be taken to appropriate garbage bins outside of the school facilities. Paper, glass, plastic, and metals must be


disposed of in appropriate bins. All studio utensils and work stations are to be properly cleaned after each use. Brushes must be cleaned after each use and placed in their proper storage areas. The loss of any personal items is the students’ responsibility. Students must respect the work of other classes and individuals at all times. Students are responsible for any damage occurring to produced works, as well as for studio tools and the cost of any missing items. Students may be asked to pay a deposit to borrow equipment and materials. Cell phones are not allowed in class. Computers are off limits during class time unless necessary for a lecture or project. Hands-on coursework requires clean, washed hands, and short fingernails are recommended. Students are invited to use the studios when other classes are in session only when authorized by the instructor. Students are allowed to paint and draw in the gallery space, but they will be responsible for any possible damage to the space and works of art. Students are not allowed to move, take, or damage any part of an ongoing exhibition. Any damages must be reported immediately to the instructor and/or lab assistant.


Ceramics (all levels)

Sculpture (all levels): Students must wear an apron or a loose fitting shirt and appropriate footwear to attend classes; closed-toe shoes are required at all time in the ceramic studio. The school will not provide aprons. It is recommended that students purchase their own aprons or bring an old loose fitting shirt. Stations must be kept neat, orderly, and clean during studio and lab hours. Clay cannot be kept unwrapped or left in pieces on the floor. Water and clay bits are a slippery combination, any spilt water must be dried immediately. Precautions, such as sweeping carefully, should be kept during clay use as it creates unnecessary dust that can be hazardous. It is highly recommended and suggested to clean areas with a damp sponge or cloth, which is a safe and convenient way to clean. Plaster and cement are to be kept away from the clay supply. Such substances cause the clay to explode during the firing process. Glaze area and use requires a cleanly space

management. Brushes must be kept clean after each use. Work cannot be left unattended when not in production. Unknown clays or glazes cannot be mixed together and most importantly, any materials added to clay projects must be approved by the instructor. Students intending to use enamels or experimental glaze techniques must be trained under the supervision of an instructor. Masks must be worked when working with techniques such as spray painting or sanding materials. Students are required to have a general awareness of kilns and ceramic production. Kilns represent important machinery and all students working with them must use the necessary caution before and after firing.

Media Labs

Media Lab computers are only for coursework. Personal email and social media may be viewed at the Internet point. Students are not permitted to download programs onto the computers. No food or drinks are allowed inside the classrooms.


Photo Studio

Only authorized and instructor-approved students may use the photo studio. No food or drinks are allowed inside the classroom. Students must checkout and return all equipment at the front desk.



Only authorized and instructor-approved students may use the photo studio. No food or drinks are allowed inside the classroom. Students must check-out and return all equipment at the front desk.


Printing Lab

Only students who are taking DIVA classes and have printing assignments may use the printers. Students may start to use the printers once they have been approved by their class instructor or TA.

Students may utilize beginning, intermediate, and advanced printers according to their approved

levels. Cartridges will be changed only by DIVA staff. Only class assignments are allowed to be printed.

PLEASE NOTE: additional requirements by DIVA for Studio equipment can be found in course syllabi.


The Student Life department provides the following information. For further information on housing in Florence, please see the housing booklet on the SLD website

In Italy a large share of electricity is imported, so utilities can be very expensive and the amount of energy available is limited. Most apartments have a maximum amount of kilowatts that can be used at one time, and too many electric appliances working simultaneously can result in a circuit failure. Should this happen, please refer to your apartment brochure on the Student Portal for the location of circuit breakers. Power can be restored by unplugging one of the devices and then flipping up the switch in the circuit breaker. Often there is a second circuit breaker inside the apartment that may need to be flipped up as well before electricity is restored.

As a general rule, please remember to:

Turn off all lights when you leave the apartment or a room for a long time. Make sure to also turn off the heat when you leave in the morning and when leaving for the weekend.

Always close and lock all the windows when you leave the apartment. Close shutters/ drapes during the hottest part of the day to keep rooms cool in summer and to keep in heat in the winter.

Keep showers short (max 15 min) as a common courtesy to your roommates, or you may use up all the hot water.

In Italy the official heating season and temperatures are regulated by environmental laws; in Florence no heating is permitted from April 15th to November 1st, and the maximum allowed temperature for the thermostat during the rest of the year is 20 C°= 68F°, for a maximum of 8 hours per day. When the heating is off, wear extra layers to keep warm.

All university apartments have air conditioning during the summer months. In any case, due to the above-mentioned conservation laws and utility limits, you may not be able to cool the apartment as you may be used to, so please keep your apartment cool the Italian way by closing all windows, curtains and shutters during the day to prevent the sunlight from heating your apartment. After sunset you can open the windows and let in the evening breeze. You must turn off the AC when you leave your room/ apartment and after 6 hours of continued use. 

PLEASE NOTE: Regardless of the season, remember to always open all windows at least 10 minutes every day to let in fresh air. In particular, it is important to remember to let air steam out of the bathroom or kitchen. Make sure to only leave the windows open when you are home and be careful to prevent slamming and breakage.

Buildings in Florence are very old! Do not flush anything down the toilet except toilet paper. Any other materials, such as feminine hygiene products, razor blades, wipes or paper towels will clog the toilet. This also applies to all school and public buildings, as well as to your kitchen and bathroom sink: garbage disposals are not used in Italy so remember to remove any food before you wash your dishes, or you will clog the pipes and will be responsible for any damages.

General Policy

Students in university accommodations are expected to behave appropriately with roommates, neighbors and the community at large, in all respects. Violence or threats, sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior and loud noise are not tolerated, as per the university’s Code of Conduct, and will result in a warning or immediate eviction. Excess noise may result in a fine or immediate eviction.

Tenants are expected to treat their Florence apartment with respect and to leave it as they found it when they depart.

Tenants found in violation of this agreement may be asked to vacate the property without a refund and may be responsible for administrative and legal penalties/subject to a fine.


Please consult the general housing policy for complete and detailed information.




Financial Policies

All required payments under this agreement are due by the date specified and communicated by the university. Students are responsible for understanding these deadlines, and the university will not necessarily issue reminders.

Failure to make payments may result in combined administrative action by university administration, which may include legal collections procedures, and/or the delayed release of academic records, or other sanctions.

All students are obligated to leave a credit card number as a security deposit for their apartment. The university does not pre-charge any deposit but will proceed to do so in case of damages and/or other violations per this document.

As noted above, students are responsible for living within their utilities’ allowance. Unless otherwise agreed, any overages will be divided amongst all apartment residents equally. Please be aware of your use of electricity and gas, and always turn off lights when you leave a room or the apartment.

All damages, including to walls, floors, furnishings and equipment, are also the residents’ responsibility and will be assessed independently of any fines levied. To the extent possible we’ll assess these damages with you during our checkout. If we are unable to determine which student is responsible for specific damage, the damage charges will be shared by all apartment (or bedroom, as the case may be) residents, equally. In the event that damages exceed the security deposit, students will be billed for the excess amounts. Unpaid fees will result in account holds and delay the release of official transcripts.

All fine notices, for fines to be levied during the term, will be sent to the individual student via their personal email. Fees must be paid directly at the Student Life Office within 48 hours of


receiving the fine notice. For fines levied after check-out, students will receive notice via email and fines will then be charged to the credit card submitted upon check in. Unpaid fees will result in account holds and delay the release of official transcripts.


Check-out Policy:

Your apartment must be left clean and as you found it. The following measures must be taken before you leave your apartment.

Clean your apartment: remove trash, clean bathroom, kitchen and common areas.

Empty cupboards and refrigerator, clearing of all personal items and food, and remove them from your apartment.

All sheets and linens should be stripped from beds and left on beds. Towels should be left on beds as well.

All personal belongings must be removed from the apartment.

All furniture must be left as you found it.

All keys must be left in the apartment on your dining room table in an envelope with your name on it. At check out extra fines for lost keys or failure to return keys will apply;

If there are broken items or damages to the apartment, these must be reported to the school.

Failure to follow check-out procedures is considered a check-out violation and will result in a fine.



Check-out for all students is by 10:00 am on the designated check-out date.


Housing Deposit/Damages Form

All students will be required to complete a Housing Deposit/Damages Form upon moving into student lodging. You will need to provide your credit/debit card information giving the university authorization to charge the card for any

damages that you cause to your apartment. You will be notified by the Housing Department of any damages after your check out and will be responsible for paying any damages.

It is important that you always report any problems through the Student Portal maintenance form immediately to eliminate any future disputes or issues.


Remember to treat your apartment and roommates with respect.

Narrow streets and courtyards are charming, but noise passes easily between walls and floors. It is vital for peaceful neighborly relations that you always observe the legally mandated “quiet hours”, i.e. make no noise between 11pm and 7am. Remember to also be conscientious when in the stairwells late at night by taking off your shoes when inside the apartment. Be a good neighbor and your new neighbors will be good to you!

Florence is famous for its beautiful red-tile rooftops. However, they cannot be stepped on as the tiles will break and you may fall off the building or into someone’s apartment! Under no circumstance may you go onto the roofs – ever!

You will find common garbage bins located every few blocks. Take a walk around your neighborhood to locate the bins closest to your building. Never leave any garbage in the apartment stairwell or on the sidewalks, as this is a severe violation and can result in a fine! The city of Florence recycles paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and organic waste.

IMPORTANT: Please use biodegradable bags, such as supermarket shopping bags, to dispose of organic matter. No plastic in these bins!


We are available 24 hours a day for serious housing emergencies.

The following are considered housing emergencies:

  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Gas Leak
  • Break-in (or any time that the police are in your apartment).

If you have a housing emergency, TAKE THE FOLLOWING STEPS:

Call the police, fire department or other relevant authority (DO THIS FIRST) by dialing 112 from any phone.

Call the university Emergency Number: +39 347 376 9632

PLEASE NOTE: If you call and it is NOT an actual emergency, we will treat it as an INFRACTION OF THESE REGULATIONS that will be subject to disciplinary action.

The wellbeing of our students is our first priority. In the event of an emergency, experienced staff is prepared to assist students in any way possible in order to ensure their safety. For this reason, the university has put in place a detailed plan which contains the response protocols for various emergency situations, ranging from health and safety matters to natural disasters.

When planning for emergency response procedures, staff take into consideration information from multiple sources, including our partner providers, local law enforcement agencies, consulates and embassies, and international travel advisories, as well as from their own experience and expertise. The Student Life and Development Department and university governance will be in charge of implementing the Emergency Plan.

For their own safety, students should carefully read and familiarize themselves with the information contained here. In the event of an emergency, it is important to be aware of all safety procedures and protocols so as to be able to act in a prompt and safe manner.

All changes or updates to the Emergency Response plan will be communicated to students via email.

The university monitors and receives updated notifications regarding official travel advisories. If a Travel Warning is issued by local or home authorities, we will alert students via email within 48 hours.

  • Student Contact Information

In the event of an emergency, it is imperative that staff be able to contact you. For this reason, students must provide accurate and up-to-date contact information, including emergency contact information. A local phone number: the university requires students to have either a local phone number or an international plan which allows them to make and receive calls. Students should not count on using WiFi for communication as WiFi is not always available or reliable. Please remember to keep your phone charged and with you at all times.

  • Important Documents

Make a photo or digital copy of all important documents (passport and visa, driver’s license/ID card, health insurance information, immigration documents, etc.) in case you lose or misplace the originals. Kee these copies in a safe place, separate from the originals. Do not take originals with you unless traveling outside of Florence.

It is also a good idea to leave a copy at home with your family or emergency contacts.

Email important information (such as your passport number and expiration date, etc.) to yourself so that is always accessible.


  • Safety in Numbers

Make every effort to avoid traveling alone when possible.

Always let someone know of your travel plans, even just for day trips.

When traveling outside of Florence overnight, the university requires all students to fill out the Travel Log on the Student Portal and to follow their specific provider’s instructions for travel plans.


  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Avoid bus and train

stations and poorly-lit areas after dark, and make sure to always walk in groups.

Keep a close eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places. NEVER leave your bags and belongings unattended. Not only is there the risk of losing or having your personal items stolen, but someone may place illegal items in your luggage for which you may be held responsible.

Before going to a place for the first time, always make sure to study a map and the route you would like to take. Looking confused or lost may make you a target.


  • Make Smart Choices

Be aware that many countries have strict laws regarding the use and/or possession of illegal substances and you may face serious consequences for breaking these laws.

Excessive drinking will impair your ability to judge situations and make decisions, making you more vulnerable and a possible target for crime.

In the unlikely event of a major emergency which affects the health and/or safety of our students, the university has put into place the following Emergency Response general procedures:

The Emergency Response team will reach out to all students via email and/or phone to ensure they are safe and to share important information and instructions regarding the situation.

The Emergency Response team will contact all relevant Embassies and Consulates and local authorities. Information regarding the event, including range of influence, level of emergency, and the practicality of continuing classes will be gathered from various appropriate sources and communicated as necessary with students and staff.

If deemed necessary, the Emergency Response team may decide to convene students and/or relocate them to another location.

A written log of all emergency events and the actions taken by the Emergency Response team will be maintained and updated as necessary.

Below you will find specific Evacuation and Emergency Procedures for various types of emergency situations. Please read the following information carefully and familiarize yourself with the steps you will need to take to ensure your safety.

Meeting Points: are indicated in the emergency evacuation plans visiable in all classrooms and campus buildings.

  • Remain calm
  • Do not rush/go outside
  • Remain in a classroom and sheltered under a desk, under a door frame or close to the main walls, away from windows, glass doors and cabinets as these could fall and cause injuries.
  • If you are in the hallway or in the stairwell go back to your/the nearest classroom
  • After the earthquake, upon order of evacuation, leave the building without using the elevator and go to the assigned meeting point.
  • If you are outside:
  • Move  away  from  buildings,  trees, streetlights or electric lines as they could fall and cause injuries
  • Find a place where there is nothing above you, if possible, otherwise seek shelter under something safe like a bench. Do not approach scared animals.

Keep calm and try to avoid any actions that may cause panic.

Call for outside help only on request of a university staff member.

Do not put yourself at risk in any way.

Do not hesitate to leave the area if the fire threatens to block the passage toward the exit.

Promptly inform staff of the fire, including the size and location. If the fire is not large enough to set off the alarm, do not manually set off the alarm unless requested by a staff member to do so. If possible, remove any flammable materials that may fuel the fire. If it is not possible for the staff to extinguish the flames, leave the area without blocking the passage of others.

If evacuation is required, follow all instructions given by staff.

Do not collect any personal belongings that may create obstacles for yourself or others and calmly proceed toward the exit without running or pushing. Help anyone who is in need of assistance to leave the building.

Follow the green exit signs to the door. Do not change direction so as to not block the exit of others.

Before opening any doors, first touch the upper part of the door to check that it is cool. If necessary, open with caution to avoid finding a wall of flames in front of you. To open sliding doors or doors that open toward you, crouch down on the floor, move as far away along the wall as possible and slowly open the door. To open doors that open away from you, crouch down on the floor and slowly open, using the door as a shield.


If you are immersed in smoke, cover your nose and mouth with a rag, wet if possible, and crawl on the floor, where the air is not as hot or smoky, and head towards the exit.

If your clothes catch fire, try to smother the flames with non-synthetic cloth and keep the flames away from your head.

Leave the premises and proceed to the meeting point indicated by a university staff member.

Once at the designated meeting point, wait calmly for staff to call roll and provide you with further instructions.


Seal off doors and windows to the outside as much as possible.

Leave any equipment or belongings (do not worry about books or other items).

Take a piece of clothing to protect yourself from the cold and rain.

Line up with your classmates, holding hands with the persons in front of and behind you.

Remember to NOT push, yell or run.

Move to the more internal classrooms or locations.

Do not open, for any reason, doors, windows or external ventilation systems.

Turn off ventilation (if applicable).

The teacher with the class list will call roll.

Stay calm.

Cease all activity.

Leave any equipment or belongings (do not  worry about books or other items).

Take a piece of clothing to protect yourself from the cold and rain.

Remember to NOT push, yell or run.

Calmly head to upper floors of the building that are indicated as safe.

Wait for instructions from the emergency personnel in charge.

Upon arrival at a secure area, the teacher with the class list will call roll.

In case of power failure, the administrator gives a pre-alarm. This entails:

Checking the status of the EE generators, and if they are overloaded, shut them down

Operating subsidiary generator, if present

Calling the electric company

Notifying the person responsible for relations with the teachers present in the classes

Turning off all machines that may have been running before the power outage.

Checking if there are people trapped inside the elevators (if present) and if necessary call the Fire Dept.

Anyone who notices a suspicious object or receives a call reporting one:

Must not approach the object but attempt to identify it without risking the safety of themselves or others, and absolutely must NOT attempt to touch or remove it under any circumstances;

Alert staff who will activate the state of alarm. This consists of:

Evacuating the students and the surrounding suspected area

Immediately calling the police

Calling fire dept.

Freeing the phone lines

Informing teachers in charge of the plan so that they are ready to organize the evacuation

Calling emergency medical services (ambulance)

Activating the alarm for the evacuation

Coordinating all related operations.


In the event of armed threat and/or the presence of deranged individuals

In these and in other similar cases where the event directly affects areas outside the facilities, the emergency plan provides for a “non-evacuation.” Follow the following behavior guidelines:

Do not leave the classroom or area you are in.

Do not look out the windows to observe.

Remain in place and with your head down if the threat is direct.

Do not expose yourself to actions of physical injury.

Do not contradict or oppose the behavior and actions of the aggressor(s)/deranged individual(s).

Stay calm and in control of your actions in response to any offense received and do not insult or ridicule the irrational behavior of the individual(s).

Any action and/or movement must be executed calmly and with ease. Do not act in a way that may seem furtive, or make any movement that may seem like an escape attempt or a defensive reaction.

If the threat is not direct and you are certain that law enforcement has taken action, sit or lay on the ground and wait for further instructions


In the event of a terrorist acts (Non- Evacuation)

In these cases and in others where the event directly affects areas outside the facilities, the emergency plan provides for a “non-evacuation”. Follow the following behavior guidelines:

Do not leave the classroom or area you are in.

Do not look out the windows to observe.

Move from the areas of the building with exterior windows with doors or hanging objects (chandeliers, paintings, speakers, etc.) and go to safer areas (for example walls between windows or on the walls of the room opposite the external ones).

Stay calm and do not influence the behavior of others with hysteria and screaming.

Soothe and assist individuals in a state of greater agitation.

Wait for further instructions which will be provided by staff.


The following information summarizes the terrorism alert levels from secure sources and the procedural measures to be taken by the school as a consequence of each level.

In particular, the international levels also used in Italy are established by the Ministry of the Interior and issued on a local level by the Prefecture and communicated to the mass media.

University staff levels and consequential actions will be determined semesterly by the Academic Senate.


Alpha: describes a situation where there is a small and general terrorist threat that is not predictable. However, agencies will inform personnel that there is a possible threat and standard security procedure review is conducted and revised where needed.

Corresponding level: LOW

The Emergency Response Team meets to assess the ALPHA level of emergency and instruct students accordingly.

The Academic Senate meets to assess the



ALPHA level of emergency, and confirms that academic activities are held regularly. No special procedures are in place, exceptions are not allowed.


Bravo: describes a situation with a somewhat predictable terrorist threat. Security measures may affect the activities of local law enforcement and the general public.

Corresponding level: GUARDED

The Emergency Response Team meets to assess the BRAVO level of emergency and instruct students accordingly.

The Academic Senate meets to assess the BRAVO level of emergency, and confirms that academic activities are held regularly. Students’ requests for special academic arrangements will be collected by the Academic Senate but no exceptions will be made. It is the students’ individual choice to withdraw from their program. The university will not allow any special procedures to complete courses and students incur the regular cancellation policy. Students are granted an incomplete grade (I). The Academic Senate meets after the end of the semester and reviews special requests.


Charlie: describes a situation where a global terrorist attack has occurred or when intelligence reports that there is local terrorist activity imminent.

Corresponding level: ELEVATED:HIGH, according to whether Florence is involved.

The Emergency Response Team meets to assess the CHARLIE level of emergency and instructs students accordingly.

The Academic Senate meets to assess the CHARLIE level of emergency and follows the Ministry of the Interior and Prefecture instructions for daily activities. Regular activities are held if not otherwise instructed by local authorities. In case of Charlie high level the Academic Senate may allow special academic arrangements including proctoring exams in consideration of the academic calendar. Students incur the regular cancellation policy.


Delta: describes a situation where a terrorist attack is taking place or has just occurred in the immediate area.

Corresponding level: SEVERE

The Emergency Response Team meets to assess the DELTA level of emergency and instructs students accordingly.

The Academic Senate meets to assess the DELTA level of emergency and follows the Ministry of the Interior and Prefecture instructions for daily activities. In compliance with local authorities’ prescriptions, the Academic Senate may decide to interrupt academic activities. The Academic Senate will allow special academic arrangements  including  proctoring  exams in consideration of the academic calendar. Students incur the regular cancellation policy.

In case of level DELTA=SEVERE emergency, if deemed necessary and only if authorized by the local authorities, the decision to terminate a program or evacuate the students will be made by the university governance and ER staff in accordance with local authorities.

The emergency evacuation in place held by the university will provide for the support of all covered students, regardless of citizenship. Students enrolled in the university through a provider will be handled by the provider.

The emergency evacuation plan includes alternative sites that will accommodate housing for the group.

Students are made aware of a meeting point during on-site orientation, so that they know immediately where to go during an emergency. The Emergency Response Team decides the best course of action and makes a decision about evacuation. The university cannot be responsible for the safety of any student or staff member who does not sign the plan of action or who refuses to comply with institution evacuation procedures. The university cannot be held responsible for the safety of any student whose whereabouts cannot be ascertained.


Students housed through the university orc independently are informed of the respective Emergency meeting point during housing check-in. The meeting point is indicated on the apartment information sheet.


The three meeting points are:


Piazza Della Libertà

Piazza Beccaria

Porta Romana


At each meeting point, one or multiple staff members will be present and will hold a university sign and students’ list to call roll.

Students will be instructed step by step by the university staff who will coordinate their transfer to the selected alternative locations outside Florence.

In order to protect the safety of our students, the university does not disclose the address of the above mentioned locations outside Florence. Partner Universities and  Families will be informed by university staff at that time. The specific address and other information regarding the off-site emergency evacuation location is found in the Emergency Response team manual only.

Keep calm and try to avoid any actions that may cause panic. Inform university staff of the situation. Unless the injured person is in immediate danger do not move the victim or offer water.

Try to keep the victim calm, supporting

him/her while s/he tries to get into a comfortable position. Call for outside help only if requested to do so by a staff member.

If necessary, first aid will be administered by a staff member, using the first aid kit.


Remain calm. Take a deep breath. You will need a clear head in order to focus on your next move.

Check for information from the university (e-mails, Facebook, phone)

Take action. Follow institution instructions to help remove you from the emergency and get you to a safer location where you can get help. Remember the alternate transportation options you have available.

Get in touch. Make sure to check in with staff at designated locations.

Take care of yourself. While you are waiting for your contacts to assist you, or in case you cannot reach anyone to assist you, use your emergency kit, if necessary.

Keep Trying. If you cannot get a hold of anyone to help you (because phone lines are down, you are trapped, etc.) don’t give up. Try alternate methods of communication until you are able to reach someone. If you need to move to another location, let others know and leave a written description of where you are going.

Move to a more permanent location. After you have removed yourself and your group from any immediate threat, regroup at a safer location, and communicate with your emergency contacts. Consider your transportation options and get yourself to the appropriate location (hospital, police station, embassy/consulate, contact’s home, counseling center, etc.)

Stay in touch. Maintain contact and update the university.


The goal of the Student Life Department is to make sure students are safe. Italy’s health care system and overall hygienic standards are excellent. No specific health issues are to be expected, and no special immunizations or vaccinations are required to enter Italy from most countries. However, colds and flu bugs are common like in any country.

Please also note that there are two pharmacies operating on extended hours in the center of Florence. In an illness that does not require immediate medical treatment, a pharmacist can often assist with over-the-counter medications. Look for the green cross for a nearby pharmacy.

  • Farmacia All’Insegna del Moro, Piazza San Giovanni 20/r
  • Farmacia Comunale, Inside Santa Maria Novella train station

Foreign prescriptions are not accepted in Italian pharmacies under any circumstance, and unless the medication is sold over the counter in Italy, a prescription from a physician licensed in Italy is required.

It is advisable for students to purchase any medication directly in Italy and never have medicine shipped from their home country, as the package will very likely get blocked at customs.

For medical referrals and information on English speaking practitioners and specialists in Florence, please contact the SLD office or stop by in person.

  • Emergency number (Police, Medical emergencies and ambulance, Fire Department) 112
  • Emergency App: “112 Where are U” App
  • Police Headquarters (Questura) Via Zara, 2 tel. +39 055 49771
  • Carabinieri Headquarters
  • Borgo Ognissanti, 48 tel. +39 055 27661
  • Night Medical Service: tel. +39 055 475411
  • City Police – Polizia Municipale Firenze tel. +39 055 3285


  • General Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova Piazza Santa Maria Nuova, 1 tel. +39 055 69381
  • General Hospital of Careggi Viale Morgagni, 85 tel. +39 055 794111
  • Ospedale Nuovo San Giovanni di Dio Via Torregalli, 3 tel. +39 055 69321
  • Ospedale Santa Maria Annunziata Via dell’Antella, 58 tel. +39 055 69361

Consulates in Florence

  • United States: Lungarno Vespucci, 38 tel. +39 055 266951
  • Brazil: Piazza Pitti, 5 tel. +39 055 222336
  • China: Via della Robbia, 89 tel. +39 055 573889
  • France: Piazza Ognissanti, 2 tel. +39 055 2302556
  • Germany: Corso dei Tintori, 3 tel. +39 055 234 3543
  • Mexico: Via Arte della Lana, 4 tel. +39 055 2656187
  • Spain: Via dei Servi, 13 tel. +39 055 212207
  • Sweden: Via Bonifacio Lupi, 14 tel. +39 055 499536

Embassies in Rome

  • United States: Via Vittorio Veneto, 119/A Rome tel. +39 06 46741
  • Police Report

A report regarding robbery, bag snatching, theft, lost property may be presented at the following offices:

  • Comando Provinciale Carabinieri Via Borgo Ognissanti, 48 (24 hrs/day) – tel. +39 055 27661.
  • Questura Ufficio denunce Via Zara, 2 tel. +39 055 4977268
  • Commissariato di Polizia Via Pietrapiana, 50r tel. +39 055 203911

Lost Property (includes all property handed in at the police stations): Via Francesco Veracini, 5 tel. +39 055 334802

Personal safety is a concern for anyone in any part of the world. It is especially important to have a personal safety plan while abroad. This may include a strategy to cope with illness and culture shock, as well as emergency situations. It’s important to prevent the unexpected when you can. Most of us overestimate the danger of rare events, which we have little or no control over, yet underestimate the danger of common events which we can have control over. Take steps to prevent situations such as theft, pedestrian safety, and getting lost. It is good to be prepared with prevention tips to ensure your own personal safety.

Students who travel overseas to reach Florence may experience Jet lag during the initial days or weeks. It is a temporary condition that occurs when a person travels across three or more time zones in a short period of time. As your body clock adjusts to the new time zone, your daily rhythms and internal drive for sleep and wakefulness can be out of sync. Each individual responds differently to the time change depending on age, physical fitness, and one’s ability to adapt to a new environment. Duration and intensity of jet lag are dependent on the number of time zones crossed, the direction of travel, and personal ability to sleep while traveling.

Symptoms include:

  • Increased fatigue
  • Poor sleep, early awakening, or fretful sleep
  • Poor performance in physical and mental tasks during the daytime accompanied by headaches and difficulty concentrating
  • Mild depression
  • Increased irritability
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances and decreased
  • interest in the enjoyment of meals


  • Optimize exposure to sunlight after arrival
  • Eat meals at appropriate, new local time
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid excess caffeine or alcohol
  • Take short naps (20-30 minutes) to increase energy without undermining nighttime sleep

Culture shock is defined as the disorientation experienced when a person is exposed to an unfamiliar culture or way of life. To help counteract and cope with these changes, it is important to keep in mind the following:

Keep an open mind. Do not automatically perceive things that are different as ‘wrong’ or ‘bad.’ Withholding judgment will facilitate cross-cultural understanding. If you find yourself in or going to a country that you know little or nothing about, do some research to prepare yourself.

Make an effort to pick up local customs and language, even just a few key phrases. Increasing your communication skills helps you to integrate with the local community. When locals see you make an effort to communicate in their language, they are more willing to help you. When all else fails, keep in mind a smile is universal.

Follow what is going on in the community, especially in Florence. The city is teeming with festivals, events, and cultural activities; read the local newspapers and ask questions to integrate yourself with your new surroundings.

Try to achieve a sense of stability in your life. Creating a routine will give you a feeling of safety and comfort.

It is completely normal to feel a little disoriented and uncomfortable upon arrival! Don’t be too hard on yourself; it takes a little while to orient oneself and become comfortable. Also, keep in mind that you are not alone and that there are plenty of others in your shoes and plenty of people around to help.

Homesickness can affect people of all ages in almost any situation. This longing for home is common. Here are some helpful tips to help combat some of these feelings:

Create a network of friends in your new surroundings. You will find that there are

many people who feel the same way as you do, and your mutual support can help during peaks of homesickness.

Make friends with your fellow peers. Don’t be afraid to branch out and ask others to grab a cup of coffee or lunch. Think of group activities to do or join in the activities provided through the campus. It is a great way to meet new people and stay engaged in your new environment.

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-changing and increasing demands of life. During stressful times, stress management is important. Do not wait until stress has a negative impact on your health, relationships, or experience to take care of the situation.

Steps to combat your stress include:

  • Identifying your stress triggers.
  • Once you’ve identified your triggers, it is easier to start thinking about strategies for coping with them. Try to avoid the stressful situation and if that isn’t possible, find distractions, limit your time in the stressful environment, or seek help and support. It can be very helpful to talk through your situation, so you do not feel as if you need to figure things out all on your own.
  • Examine how you currently cope with stress: Is it appropriate for your situation? Is it a healthy and helpful activity?
  • Avoid unnecessary stress. Limiting your level of stress by not worrying about trivial things can be a first step in reducing your overwhelming  feelings.
  • Change the situation you are in.

Some things to help you relax can include stepping back from your situation and going for a walk or taking part in physical activity, deep breathing exercises, or seeking other healthy distractions. Writing down what is bothering you can also give you some insight into what is on your mind and from there you can reflect on effective solutions. Be willing to compromise in certain situations to find a happy medium and make sure to look at things in terms of the bigger picture. Try not to control the uncontrollable – this will only lead to more stress. Instead try your best to look at the upside to the situation.

Among the techniques to reduce stress, make time for fun and relaxation. Taking care of yourself and maintaining a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally will help you to handle the challenges and stressors life sends your way.

Living in Florence


  • Size: 102.276 square kilometers (63 mi)
  • Population: 367,062
  • Time Zone: Central European Time (CET)
  • Climate: the highest temperatures can reach up to more than 35°C (95°F) and the lowest temperatures can go below 0°C (below freezing)

The historic center of Florence has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Florence’s Cathedral (Duomo) is the fourth largest Christian Church in the world, after St. Peter in Rome, St. Paul in London, and the Duomo of Milan.

Florence has several open-air markets known for their local produce, meats, cheeses, and fish. These inexpensive markets contain some of the staples for everyday life in Florence with fresh and classic Italian flair. The three main markets are:

  • Mercato Centrale San Lorenzo
    Piazza San Lorenzo: A portion of the market is housed in an enormous Liberty- Style art nouveau building and is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, cheeses, dry goods, and more.
  • Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio in Piazza Ghiberti, near Piazza Sant’Ambrogio: There are a few excellent and inexpensive places for lunch located inside as well.
  • Mercatone delle Cascine Viale A. Lincoln to Viale Lecci, Tuesday mornings.. Numerous stalls that extend throughout Viale A. Lincoln that include fruits, vegetables, clothing, leather, food, flowers, antiques, and local crafts among other things.
  • Mercato di Santo Spirito In Piazza Santo Spirito, Monday-Sunday mornings  

In the city center there are many grocery stores with a selection of fruits, vegetables, meats, and other essentials. In the outskirts there are also several supermarkets with a larger selection of packaged and frozen foods and household supplies. Although hours vary, most supermarkets close around 8:00 or 9:00 pm. For those of you who wish to venture out of the center by public transportation, there are also supermarkets located inside the local malls just outside of Florence.

There are also a few specialty stores that have a well-stocked selection of vegetarian and vegan options.


For gluten-free diets, there are several options available in Florence. Gluten-free food may be purchased both in supermarkets as well as pharmacies. Important: look for the words “Senza Glutine” and/or the green gluten-free symbol (wheat sprig with an anti symbol).


The best way to get around the center of Florence is by foot, although there are times when you may want to use public transportation. If you are planning a trip outside the city center, regional buses and trains are a great, inexpensive way to travel.

In Florence, taxi rules are pretty simple: taxis may not be hailed on the street, and there are no unregistered taxis/black cabs. In fact, there are only two taxi companies, known by their phone numbers: 4390 and 4242. Their full numbers are +39 055 4390 – +39 055 4242

Some things to remember:
Taxis may only be reserved up to 24 hours in advance. Once the car is booked, you must be outside your front door 5 minutes before the reservation time.

Most drivers will take credit cards, but please check before getting in the car.

Women needing a taxi during the night may also use the Taxi Rosa (Pink Taxi). Just send a WhatsApp or a normal message with the word “rosa” to this phone number: +39 334662 2550.

Need a car on the go? Stop by one of the many taxi stops located throughout the city. Taxi ranks are convenient. Tipping is included in the fare

Drivers may refuse to take you somewhere if you are under the influence.

Late at night, always take a taxi, especially if you are unfamiliar with the neighborhood or if you are alone.

The Florence bus system, Autolinee Toscane, has a broad network throughout the city, and buses run quite frequently. Autolinee Toscane buses are the large gray buses as well as the smaller electric buses (C1, C2, C3,D) that runs only in the city center. Most buses pass by the SMN train station at regular intervals. Once on board, validate your ticket in the machine. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes from the time it is stamped, which will appear on the top of your validated ticket. You can change and transfer buses as many times as necessary within the 90 minute time limit.

IMPORTANT: Tickets must be validated the first time you use them and must always be carried with you, along with a form of ID (copy of passport). Instructions for validation are also posted in English aboard the buses. Fines are very expensive if you are caught without a validated ticket. It is also possible to buy a ticket directly from the driver, paying a surcharge and preferably with small bills or coins. However, it is highly recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance as there is no guarantee bus drivers will always have tickets available to sell or have appropriate change.


The tramway line runs from Via Alamanni (SMN train station) to the nearby town of Scandicci. You can purchase regular Autolinee Toscane bus tickets to use on the tramway. Line 2 runs from the Florence Peretola Airport to piazza dell’Unità (close to the SMN central train station). Line 3.1 runs from the SMN central train station to Careggi Hospital.

Trains are an excellent way of traveling throughout Italy and Europe. In Florence, tickets can be purchased directly from the SMN train station and from most travel agencies. We recommend that you check first with the agency if any

booking fees are included in the cost of the ticket. Important: if you buy a paper ticket, you must validate your ticket before boarding the train! Ticket-stamping machines are located at the beginning of each track to validate your ticket, and if you forget to do so before you board, the conductor will make you pay a fine, in cash on the spot. Online tickets are not subject to validation requirements.

BUSITALIA and CAP bus companies have routes outside of the Florence city limits. Both bus terminals are located near the train station.

SITA is located in Via Santa Caterina da Siena, 17 and has buses that depart for Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, the Chianti region, etc.

Cap is located on Largo Fratelli Alinari and serves Prato, Calenzano, Poggio a Caiano and Impruneta.


The easiest way to get to Florence airport is by taxi or tram from the central train station. For Pisa airport, the best way is by shuttle bus or by regional train, both of which leave from the central station.

If your luggage is lost or delayed, always give the airline the school address to deliver your luggage to when it arrives:

  • Your Name
  • Corso Tintori, 21 50122 Firenze
  • Italia

Florence is a lively city, and on any given day of the year it is possible to find a variety of entertaining events. Whether you are looking for cultural events, unique restaurants or fun places to hang out with locals, there is always an array of happenings within the city center. Please refer to this guide below to help plan your free time in Florence, and don’t hesitate to stop by Student Life for detailed information and advice for leisure time activities.

There are many opportunities to stay active and enjoy nature. Ask the Student Life and Development office for sporting and outdoor activities available in Florence.

Although Italy is predominantly a Catholic country, religious services of various denominations may be found in the city center.



If you are interested in merging with the Italian community please join our Connecting Cultures Program (conversation partners, volunteering opportunities, Italian families). For further information please check our website.

Italians, as a general rule, do not eat out for convenience. Eating out in Italian culture is a treat and is usually done to celebrate some particular event. This is why the dishes in a restaurant are generally richer or more elaborate than average home cooking. Also for this reason, customers are usually expected to order more than one course. The restaurant owner will not rush you out, as the Italian customer is not only paying for food and service, but also for the relaxed time and environment that one finds when eating out. Dinner out is a moment to chat and be convivial, this is why in a restaurant the atmosphere and pace is so relaxed. In general, you will have to ask for the bill in order to receive it, as a good waiter in Italy would never rush you out of the restaurant.

In Italy, there are three basic categories for dining establishments: osteria, trattoria, and ristorante.

Please note that it is always a good idea to check the prices before entering a ristorante, trattoria or osteria; although most of them are reasonably priced, some of them are historical establishments, and their traditional food and rustic environment can be pricey. An osteria or trattoria may have humble origins, but there are also some very fashionable, trendy locations that may outdo the prices of your usual ristorante.

Pizzeria – An establishment selling pizza and sometimes other food. Pizzas are served as individual dishes, not “family style”, and everyone is expected to order their own. If you just want a slice of pizza, look for an establishment that sells pizza “a taglio”.

Bar – The Italian “bar” is actually a “café”, where people often stop by for a quick espresso with friends or colleagues. Most bars also sell pastries, sandwiches and sometimes even offer a traditional aperitivo in the late afternoon/early evening.

PLEASE NOTE: many bars require that you pay beforehand and show the receipt to receive service.

Panini-Light Lunch – Panini in Italy is not a specific type of sandwich or even necessarily a toasted sandwich, it is simply the plural form of the word sandwich, i.e. “sandwiches”. To order a sandwich ask for a panino, singular, not a panini, which is the plural form. Avoid touristy places and go for the lesser- known establishments and bakeries that will prepare a fabulous sandwich on the spot for you!

Aperitivo – Aperitivo  or aperitif (from the Latin word aperire, to open) traditionally opens a meal, and it is similar to an appetizer. In recent times aperitivo or apericena has become a way to have a quick informal dinner with friends: you can enjoy a beverage and a buffet (cold and hot meals)

Remember: wine is part of a meal in Italian culture and to enjoy one glass with friends is a social activity. However, excessive drinking is anti-social behavior in Italian culture.

The heart of social life is often found in piazzas located throughout the various quarters of the city. For this reason, it is not uncommon to find Italians consuming drinks in the vicinity of the pub or restaurant in which it was purchased if there is not a table available at the establishment. However, this is a far cry from the misconception that walking around the city with open containers of alcohol is socially acceptable. In fact, it is quite the opposite. In Florence, as well as in the rest of Italy, consuming alcohol and/or being drunk in public is perceived as extremely disrespectful and it is never, under any circumstance, acceptable to wander the streets with an open bottle of wine or any other alcoholic beverage.

General norms and tips while shopping:

  • Saying buongiorno (good morning) or buona sera (good afternoon/evening) when entering a store, office or restaurant is a way for you to integrate into Italian culture through common courtesy. Courtesy is much valued in Italy and people will appreciate being acknowledged before starting a conversation.
  • Returning or exchanging an item is uncommon in Italian stores and usually only possible if you return the item new, with a receipt and a tag within 14 days. In that case, you might still not receive a refund but a coupon (buono). It is impossible to return items without a receipt or a tag, items that have been used, or if packaging is open.
  • Bargaining is NOT practiced in regular stores.
  • Some shops close between 1:00 pm and 3:30pm. Others might be closed on weekends. In Italian this afternoon closing is referred to as a pausa o chiusura, not siesta, which is actually a Spanish word meaning “nap”.
  • Not all businesses will accept credit cards or break a large bill for a small purchase.

Although it may be a nice gesture for exceptional service, tipping is generally not required nor expected for any services in Italy. This includes restaurants, taxis, and hairdressers. Employees in these businesses earn a regular salary and do not work for tips. Furthermore, in restaurants, there is always a service charge automatically included in your bill, called coperto, and usually between 2 to 5 euro. If you did have an exceptional experience and you would like to show your gratitude, usually a euro or two is more than enough to say thank you to your server.

Following is a calendar of our National holidays. Since Italy is a predominantly Catholic country, these holidays are principally in accordance with such customs. Most government and local businesses also acknowledge these holidays. Absence from school for other religious holidays that are not recognized by the Italian calendar will not be excused. This decision does not represent the beliefs of the university or its staff, but rather reflects cultural customs. For current school holidays, please check the Academic Dates for your session which can be found in your orientation packet:

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day January
  • 6 – Epiphany
  • Easter Sunday – Easter Monday (date varies according to lunar calendar)
  • April 25 – Liberation Day
  • May 1 – Labor Day
  • June 2 – Day of the Republic
  • June 24 – Saint John the Baptist Day (Patron Saint of Florence)
  • August 15 – Assumption Day
  • November 1 – All Saints’ Day
  • December 8 – Immaculate Conception Day
  • December 25 – Christmas Day
  • December 26 – Saint Stephen’s Day

Italians can be very informal and friendly. That said, Italian culture, despite the stereotype, respects a lot of formalities, for instance:

  • Never sit on the ground or put your feet or shoes on a table or a chair/sofa anywhere, including on trains, buses or waiting areas. This is considered very rude!
  • It is not really common or socially accepted to eat or drink while entering a store or building with food or open drink containers.
  • Keep your shoes and shirt on at all times while in public.
  • Italians do not usually wear sports gear outside of the gym or sport sessions.
  • “Ciao” is a very informal greeting, not appropriate in every circumstance, especially for the elderly. If you are unsure, “salve” works every time!
  • Keep cultural dress norms in mind. Wear sensible clothes and respect the dress code that Italians observe on different occasions. What could be considered casual in your culture could be regarded as inappropriate
  • Cover your shoulders and avoid short skirts/shorts when visiting churches.
  • Try not to be loud in your native language, despite the cliché, Italians do

not appreciate people being loud.

A few suggestions and tips that will help you navigate smoothly in Italy!

  • Find an Italian friend, teach them your native language and share your culture while you learn more about your host culture – cultural integration is never one-directional! Take part in the Connecting Cultures program, to learn more about how to do this (Please check our SLD website).
  • Learn about current Italian pop-culture! Try to watch Italian tv shows, talent shows, and listen to current Italian music. This way not only will you improve your Italian language skills: you’ll also increase your understanding of the current trends and lifestyle. This will give you great conversation topics, Italians will be flattered that you actually took the time to learn about their country and you’ll be an instant best friend!
  • Try the local food. In Italian culture rejecting a dish or ingredient that has been offered could be taken as an offense. At least try the food, or, if you can not, politely explain why rather than just saying “no”.
  • Keep in mind that Italians, and especially Florentines, despite the stereotype, are very reserved and do not commonly talk to strangers. People might feel uncomfortable or misinterpret your intentions as in Italy it is preferable to be introduced to someone through a third party, like a common friend before starting a conversation. If a stranger approaches you on the street that person is not behaving in accordance with Italian customs and social norms. Do the Italian thing and politely ignore them!
  • Personal space can be smaller in Italy than other countries.
  • Be aware of cultural sensitivities. The mafia, Italian politics, World War II, or Italian stereotypes can be a sensitive spot for many Italians and a painful subject. If you do approach these subjects, try to be tactful and not too assertive, as people may feel uncomfortable.
  • Take advantage of public fountains! You will be able to refill your bottle at water fountains located in the main piazzas, or at the “fontanelli.” Some of them even offer carbonated water! On the other hand, since in italian culture it is not very common to eat or drink outside of meal hours, you will not find water fountains inside buildings.
  • In Italy it’s forbidden to smoke inside public spaces but it is permitted to smoke everywhere outside. This can be very inconvenient but please keep in mind that an Italian will not perceive smoking next to you in the street as something that might bother you. If you smoke, don’t throw cigarette butts on the street as you may be fined for littering!
  • People in Italy can be fascinated by other countries, but presenting your way as the best or only way will kill the conversation and the cultural exchange. Italians are generally very critical of their home country but will proudly defend it if feeling judged.
  • Try unfamiliar things. Life begins outside of our comfort zone! Leaping out of your linguistic and cultural comfort zone can be hugely rewarding!

Communicating with locals will be one of your main challenges. At times, it seems like no one can understand your language, and other times, it feels like the locals will not allow you to practice Italian. The best way to overcome this is to just put yourself out there and try to speak in Italian, no matter how difficult or embarrassing it may feel. Even if you just learn to correctly use a few simple words and phrases, this will help you to assimilate into Italian culture.



Whether you are a student studying abroad or obtaining a degree, you will always be a part of the Florentine community. The Alumni Association is committed to keeping and strengthening a successful long-term relationship with its alumni. The Association promotes and coordinates alumni support with the goal of strengthening the high-quality academic and public service programs of the university. The goal of this group is to involve and inform the alumni community in order to build powerful networks and create initiatives that connect us to all the students (both alumni and current students), our communities, and faculty members. Alumni are representatives of the heritage and achievement of the University. The Alumni Association celebrates student achievements and looks forward to being on your side as you experience the exciting opportunities and challenges that await you.


The Alumni Service maintains contact with current and past students who are living and working around the world and representing the viewpoints, languages, and cultures of the global network university. The objectives of the service: establish and maintain a network of contacts with alumni who interact and communicate with each other and who are increasingly moving around the world; promote university development; create and encourage networking among our students, companies, and institutions; be the high-quality intermediary of integrated, and comprehensive communications and administrative support services between our students and the job market.

The service manages the alumni database, monitors on a yearly basis the career of past students, and organizes events for the alumni. Furthermore, it takes care of the development of a Career Service offered to all graduates and, organizes themed meetings, keeps alumni up to date with university news and current events (congresses, conferences, and more).


In the city center, you can find everything from high-end designer clothing in the area of Via dei Tornabuoni and Via della Vigna Nuova, to less expensive boutiques and chain stores in the area between the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio. If you are looking for artisan leather goods, the open markets and the area around Santa Croce and San Lorenzo are great places to start your search. There are also three department stores in downtown Florence where you can find housewares and beauty supplies, as well as clothing to fit different budget needs.



Just outside of the center, Via Gioberti is a very popular shopping area among Florentines. A short bus ride from the center, you can also find a large shopping mall called “I Gigli” in via San Quirico 165, Campi Bisenzio (FI), with clothing stores, electronic stores, and a large supermarket. To reach I Gigli, bus tickets may be purchased at the bus station.

For small items such as hairdryers, radios, or coffeemakers, you will find shops selling household appliances, or elettrodomestici, within the city center. Converters and plugs can also be purchased in these stores. Some electronic devices can also be found in larger supermarkets and department stores around the center.

In various points throughout the city center, you will find coin-operated laundromats. These points are called some variation of “Wash & Dry Lavarapido” and are typically open for the majority of the day.

For dry cleaning service, bring your clothing to a “tintoria” or a “lavanderia”. Some lavanderie also offer full-service wash and fold as well as dry cleaning. There are several located throughout the city center.

General home and cleaning supplies can be purchased in both small and large markets as well as in casalinghi and mesticheria stores located throughout the city center.

Although you can usually find a basic supply of notebooks, pens, and pencils in larger supermarkets, the best place to shop for school supplies is a cartoleria, a stationery store. Here you can also find souvenirs, such as postcards and traditional Florentine paper. For inexpensive school essentials and small items, check out the “99 cent” stores located throughout the city.

Most bookstores in Florence also have an international section:

  • Feltrinelli
  • IBS
  • Paperback Exchange


Copy centers are scattered around the city center. If you need color copies for a class or large quantities of photocopies, it is best to have these done at one of the local copy shops. Please note that the school Internet points do not offer color printing options.

For printing options on campus, please check out our student life website.

Electronic payment methods are widely accepted in Italy, but cash transactions are still commonplace. You should always have a small amount of euro with you for small daily transactions. However, we strongly suggest that you do not carry large amounts of cash with you while in Florence, elsewhere in Italy, or abroad. Only take with you what you need according to your plans for the day, and make sure the rest of your cash is kept somewhere safe.

ATM machines, or Bancomat, can be found outside most banks. Some locations may require entering by swiping your card through a reader as a safety precaution.

There are several exchange offices in the center of Florence. Most are open seven days a week and offer both currency exchange and cash advances. If you need to have money wired to you while in Florence, the best way to do this is through services such as Western Union or Moneygram. You will need to use your full legal name as it appears on your passport.

We do not offer luggage storage services, and students cannot leave their luggage in their apartments or at school between sessions for any reason. Please contact the Student Life Department for a current list of locations that provide storage services.


For non European citizens, the main phone companies operating in Italy are Vodafone, TIM, Wind/3, and PosteMobile. Most monthly plans vary between 15–20 EUR for a combination of minutes, SMS, and data, PLUS the one-time cost of the SIM card (approximately 10- 15 EUR). Although websites are mostly in Italian, staff on site will be able to help you in English.