Florence is one of the most attractive cities for international students who are interested in arts and culture. In addition to the main Italian universities in the city there are large numbers of international students who spend a part of their degree in the city. This creates a vibrant and multicultural atmosphere that many students enjoy.
Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region and the art capital of Italy. It has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the city is noted for its history, culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The centre of the city is contained in medieval walls that were built in the 14th century to defend the city.
According to UNESCO, almost a third of the world’s art treasures reside in Florence. The main viewing galleries include the Uffizi, the Bargello and the Academy.
Giotto’s frescoes, Michelangelo’s David, canvases by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and a host of other greats can be found in the Uffizi Gallery.
The Galleria degli Uffizi is the single most visited building in Italy with around one and a half million admirers passing through each year. It’s housed in what used to be the administrative offices of the city’s most famous family, the prosperous Medicis.
Florence has a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene, and plenty of opportunities to experience an eclectic mix of music and art including opera, classical music and contemporary art. The Oltrarno, the southern half of the city, is a residential district, and its many restaurants and bars cater more to Italians than the tourist crowd.
Florence is also an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked within the top fifty fashion capitals of the world; furthermore, it is also a major national economic centre, being a tourist and industrial hub.
Tourism is, by far, the most important of all industries and most of the Florentine economy relies on the money generated by international arrivals and students studying in the city.
Florence is a major production and commercial centre in Italy, where the Florentine industrial complexes in the suburbs produce all sorts of goods, from furniture, rubber goods, chemicals, and food.
However, traditional and local products, such as antiques, handicrafts, glassware, leatherwork, art reproductions, jewellery, souvenirs, elaborate metal and iron-work, shoes, accessories and high fashion clothes also dominate a fair sector of Florence's economy.
Getting to Florence
The flight time from London to Florence or London to Pisa is around two hours.
Florence’s small Amerigo Vespucci airport, also known as Peretola, after its location, is only three miles north-west of the city centre. With luggage, a taxi into the centre should cost around €25.
The “Vola in Bus” line (www.ataf.net) runs into the central coach station (next to Santa Maria Novella train station) in around half an hour, leaving every 30 minutes between 5.30am and 11pm (tickets €6/€10 return).
Most low-cost carriers use Pisa’s Galileo Galilei airport,62 miles west of Florence, to which it is connected by Terravision bus 13 times a day (tickets €4.99 single, journey time 70 minutes) or by train (ticket around €6 depending on type of train, journey time around 60 minutes).
There are six trains a day from Pisa Airport train station to Florence; there are also more options from Pisa Centrale, which is a quick bus or taxi hop from the airport.
Florence’s main Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station is very central. For train times and fares, consult the Trenitalia website.
Note that certain long-distance trains to Rome, Bologna, Milan and Venice stop at the less central Firenze Campo di Marte or Firenze Rifredi stations. You can get to either by train from Santa Maria Novella in around five minutes.