A small 374,500 residents call the beautiful city of Florence home, while approximately 13.5 million tourists flock to the birthplace of The Renaissance yearly. With millions of tourists consuming the streets, it becomes very clear who’s on vacation, and who’s not. For current and future students who are currently or are planning to study abroad in Florence, here are a few pointers on how to avoid being “that” tourist.
1. Put Away Your Cellphone GPS And Map.
At some point or another, we will all wander around hopelessly and need some modern day technology to guide us to our destination. With minimal to no knowledge of Italian, and zero sense of direction, my Maps app and I got really close during my first few days here. But, since I now know my way around the city, I notice the people who don’t, and who often get in my way. Please, please, please, put away your map! You are screaming, “I’m a tourist!” If you’re lucky enough to have phone service everywhere and you do use your Maps app to help you get around, please turn the volume down. “In 350 feet, turn left on Via Faenza” shout from your phone is honestly worse than holding up the map. Still, neither are recommended.
2. Know Your Coffee Terminology
Italians don’t mess with their coffee. Awareness and knowledge of coffee culture in Italy is extremely important and an absolute must for visitors. You must know the difference between a macchiato and an expresso. You should know how strange it is to order a coffee to go. Most Italians sit and enjoy there coffee beverage of choice with a cornetto, a croissant, or the morning paper. Don’t go to a café after dinner expecting to get a cappuccino. Cafés and places in touristy areas will pretty much serve you anything at any time of day because they accommodate to tourists, but know they’re secretly laughing at you because what you’re ordering isn’t right or traditional.
3. Do Shop At Zara
European style is different, trendy and very fun. Do take note of the styles, trends and blue store bags you see everywhere. I see someone carrying a Zara bag at least three times a day. Explore this trend and go there. Buy something different that you’d never wear at home! Maybe you’ll become the fashion queen when you return home!
Disclaimer: Zara can be highly addictive. Do limit yourself to the number of visits you make weekly… if not you’ll quickly see your travel money vanish!
4. Don’t Wear The Following Items
Flip-flops, snapback, mid-calfs, jerseys and sweatshirts are all very common, everyday clothing items for the American college student. These clothing items are not common or even seen in Florence. Do NOT wear them, you will immediately stick out. Aside form sticking out, you will be harassed by all of the leather market venders with selfie sticks and knock off designer bags. They will literally flock to you in hope of a sale with another tourist.
5. Sit And Stay Awhile
Dinners in Italy are not rushed or on the go. When a meal is shared, it almost always takes place over several hours with multiple, amazing courses. Whether it be a restaurant or someones home, do not be in a rush to leave… you can’t even take your food to go! Asking for your leftover scraps to be boxed up isn’t an option, so you might as well really soak up that last bit of Chianti wine and the Italian culture. Enjoying and socializing over a beautifully cooked meal are not only enjoyable and fun, but are huge values in the Italian culture. I know this is very different from how it is in America but who doesn’t love sitting, talking, drinking and eating?! Sounds like a win win for everyone!
Whether you’re here for a weekend, semester, year or all four years, make an effort to really get in touch with your inner Florence. Relax, indulge and be merry!