Florence Background Information

Prepared by Steven Grossvogel
The University of Georgia
The following orientation guide is meant to serve as a supplement to the more general orientation booklet the University System of Georgia's Regents Global Center has prepared. Both booklets were designed to facilitate your transition from one culture to another, and to help you plan for your stay in Italy. Please bring both booklets with you to Italy, and follow the recommended etiquette in each one. Most of the prices mentioned in this booklet are the prices which were in effect the summer of 1993 when one dollar was worth 1500 lire.  On January 1, 2002, Italy replaced the lira with the euro, the new currency of the European Union.  One euro is worth approximately one dollar.


If you arrive in Florence on a weekend, it may be hard to exchange traveler's checks (banks are closed on weekends). When you arrive in Italy you may want to exchange some traveler's checks at the airport (you will get a better exchange rate at an Italian airport than at an American bank). You should have enough euroes for your lunch on Saturday and Sunday (lunch is not included during your stay in Florence). One hundred dollars worth of euroes should be enough to tie you over until banks reopen on Monday. If you prefer to buy some euroes before your departure, you can do so at any major American bank or at Thomas Cook Currency Services at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, across from the British Airways terminal.

1. Arriving in Florence:

It is possible to fly to Florence from another European city (Brussels, Paris, etc.). Last summer Sabina Airlines (a Belgian airline company) offered round trip flights Atlanta--Brussels, Brussels--Florence for only $850. If you do not mind the nine hour lay over in Brussels on the way to Florence, you will find this arrangement quite convenient. You can take the train from the airport to downtown Brussels (get off at the Grand Place) and visit the town during those nine hours. If you prefer not to spend nine hours in Brussels, find out from your travel agent which other airline companies can fly you to Florence, and from which cities.

Once you arrive at Peretola Airport in Florence, you can either take a bus into town (for about 5000 lire) or a taxi for 25,000 lire. The bus will drop you off at the SITA bus station, just a block from the train station Santa Maria Novella. If you are staying with the Bandini, call them and they will come and pick you up.

2. Departing from Florence:

The airport opens at 6:00 a.m. Since the buses may not be running at that time, you may have to take a taxi, especially if your host family cannot drive you to the airport. You should be at the airport at least one hour before your time of departure. You are allowed to check-in only two suitcases, 32 kilograms (70 pounds) each, and bring on board with you one carry-on. If you check-in more than 140 pounds you will have to pay 120,000 lire for the extra luggage.

3. Arriving in Rome:

If you are flying into Rome, you will probably arrive at the Aereoporto Leonardo da Vinci in the town of Fiumicino (just outside of Rome). When you get off the plane you will have to show your passport to the border police before you can pick-up your luggage at the baggage claim. After you have picked-up your luggage and left the airport, you can do one of two things: 1) take a train to Stazione Termini (the main train station in Rome) and take another train to Florence; or 2) take the expensive Alitalia train that goes directly from the Aereoporto Leonardo da Vinci to Florence. The first solution is the least expensive. The second is the most convenient, but the Alitalia train for Florence only leaves twice a day (it might cost you less if you purchase the train ticket with your airline ticket, ask your travel agent). Whichever option you choose, you will have to go outside the airport terminal and walk a block to the train station. Once inside the station you will have to take the elevator that brings you to the "ferrovie" (trains) upstairs.

Before boarding the train for Stazione Termini (option 1) you will have to purchase a ticket (6000 lire) at the ticket office (Biglietteria). The train takes about forty minutes to get to Stazione Termini.

Once you are inside the train station you should look at the big electronic boards which say "TRENI IN PARTENZA" (not "Treni in Arrivo") to see which track or "bin" (short for binario) your train will leave from. The cities that appear on the electronic board are the final destinations of each train: you will not necessarily see "Firenze" (Florence) next to your train number (since your train may go to cities beyond Florence). Make sure that the train number on your ticket corresponds to the train number (not just the time of departure) on the electronic board. At the back of this booklet you will find a copy of last year's train schedule from Rome to Florence: although the train numbers at the top of the page may have remained the same, the departure and arrival times may have changed slightly.

Make sure you get off at Firenze Santa Maria Novella (not at Firenze Campo Marte or Firenze Rifredi, the two smaller train stations of Florence). Since you will be feeling the effects of jet-lag and might fall asleep on the train, ask one of the other passengers to wake you up when the train arrives in Florence ("Mi può svegliare quando il treno arriva a Firenze?").

When you get off the train in Florence, walk to the bottom of the tracks and then turn left to leave the station. The taxis are outside the station on your left. (If you are staying with the Bandini, do not take the taxi; it will cost you an arm and a leg. Call them from the public phones in the train station.

4. Departing from Rome:

When you leave Florence for Rome you should make train reservations in advance. Depending on the train you take, you may need a "supplemento rapido" in addition to the regular train ticket (see page 16 of this handbook). It is advisable to buy your ticket and make your reservation at a travel agency so that you don't have to stand in the long lines at the train station. Most agencies do not charge extra to make a reservation (except American Express which charges 6000 lire). Be sure to take a train that goes to either Rome's Stazione Termini. When you board the train, be sure the wagon number corresponds to the one on your reservation card.

When you arrive at in Rome, you will not find any luggage carts (Florence is one of the few cities in Italy that has them). If you have too much to carry, you can always hire a porter (dressed in blue): the summer of 1993 their rates were 1500 lire per piece of luggage. Once you are at Stazione Termini, buy a train ticket to Fiumicino and board the train that goes to Fiumicino. I believe that the train departs from track 33.

When you arrive at the Aereoporto Leonardo Da Vinci in Fiumicino, go to the Voli Internazionali (International Flights) building. If you are traveling on Delta, you must go to section F in order to get to the Delta check-in counters. (You will have to show your passport and airline ticket to two policemen inside the building before you are allowed in section F.) The Delta check-in counters (numbered 147, 148, 149) are on the right.

While you are in line waiting to check-in, an airline agent will come by and ask you several questions about your luggage: Who packed it? When was it packed? Have you ever left it unattended since you packed it? Did anyone ask you to carry something for them? (Drug dealers and terrorists have been known to "plant" drugs and bombs on unsuspecting airline passengers.) If you have changed your return date after your ticket was issued, the date on your ticket will not correspond to your actual date of departure, and the airline agent will probably ask you to stand in another line so that your airline carrier can issue you a new ticket. (This should not cost you anything, but it may take some time since you have to stand in this other line before you can stand in the check-in line.) If you are flying to the U.S. via another European city (Amsterdam, Brussels, London, etc.), be sure to have your luggage checked-in as far as your port of entry in the United States (New York, Atlanta, etc.). After you have checked in your luggage, you can go directly to your departure gate.

Since the lines are long and since you will have to go through several security check points, you should be at the airport at least two hours before your departure. In light of the very tight security at the Aereoporto Leonardo da Vinci, you probably will not be allowed to sleep inside the airport. If you decide to take a night train from Florence to Rome, remember that you can get off at Roma Tiburtina (many night trains stop there).

Finally, find out from a travel agency if there is going to be any kind of transportation strike on the date of your departure. If there is, you should be in Rome before the strike begins. You should also have enough money (70,000 lire) to take a taxi to the airport in case the trains and/or metro are not running.

If you have a connecting flight in the United States, you will have to go through customs at the port of entry (the first U.S. city your plane lands in) before you can catch your connecting flight. You will have to pick-up your luggage at the baggage claim terminal, go through customs, and then go to the check-in desk behind the customs gate to check-in your luggage for your connecting flight. After you have checked it in, go to the correct departure gate for your connecting flight.

5. Aereoporto di Ciampino in Rome:

This is the smaller airport outside Rome. You will arrive at this airport only if you are on a charter flight. There is public transportation from Ciampino, but you may have to change in Rome (ask your travel agent for more information).

6. Arriving in Milan:

Milan has two airports: a bigger one (Malpensa) for flights to and from other continents, and a smaller one (Linate) for flights to and from European cities. If you are flying directly from the U.S. to Milan you will probably arrive at the Aereoporto Internazionale di Malpensa, which is very far from Milano Centrale (the main train station in Milan). There are buses to Milano Centrale, but when traffic is heavy the ride to or from the airport may take up to three hours! If, however, you are flying to Milan by way of another European city (Amsterdam, London, or Brussels) you will probably arrive at the Aereoporto di Linate which is only 20 to 30 minutes by bus from Milano Centrale.

When you exit from either airport you will find blue buses waiting outside. Be sure to take a bus that goes to Milano Centrale (not to Porta Garibaldi or any of the other smaller train stations in Milan). These buses will drop you off beside Milano Centrale: walk to the bottom of the bus line, turn right, and you will be in front of the monumental entrance to the train station. Take the escalator up to the tracks, and look at the big electronic board which says "TRENI IN PARTENZA" to help you locate your train (please read the above instructions for Rome's Stazione Termini).

7. Departing from Milan:

When you leave Florence for Milan, be sure your train goes to Milano Centrale (not one of the other train stations in Milan). When you arrive at Milano Centrale, go to the bottom of the tracks and turn left, you will find a big green sign telling you where to catch the buses to the airport. Take the escalator down to the main entrance, and when you leave the train station turn left: at the corner of the station you will find the bus terminal. Be sure to get on the bus that will bring you to the airport specified on your airline ticket: either MALpensa or LINate. If you are leaving from Malpensa, you should be at that airport two hours before departure; if you are leaving from Linate you should be at that airport at least one hour before departure (in summer the line at the check-in counter are long and slow). Be sure to have your luggage checked-in as far as your port of entry in the United States (New York or Atlanta). After you have checked-in your luggage and gotten your boarding pass, you must go to your departure gate and take the shuttle bus to the plane (it's only a one minute ride).


1. If you do not have a passport, apply for one immediately! As soon as you get your passport, send it along with your proof of world-wide medical coverage and your completed visa application to the Italian Consulate nearest you (the addresses of Italian Consulates in the U.S. appear at the back of this booklet). After they have processed your application they will staple or stamp your student visa on your passport and mail it back to you. Since it may take a couple of weeks to get your visa, do not wait until June to apply!  If you do not plan to apply for a student visa, find out how long you can stay in Italy without a visa: the U.S. State Department web-site (www.state.gov) or the Italian Embassy web-site (italyemb.org) will have links that might provide you with that information; otherwise you can call the closest Italian Consular Office (addresses are at the end of this booklet).

Your passport is your most important document: you cannot leave the U.S.without it.In Italy you will need to show it every time you cash travelers checks or check-in at a hotel. Make at least three copies of the photo page of your passport: one to put in your suitcase, one to keep at home with your family, and one to give me.

2. Students who had the International Student Identification Card (ISIC) last summer, hardly used it. The ISIC gives you discounts to museums, theaters, etc. You may need the ISIC, however, if you buy BIGE train tickets (see p. 16) or stay at a Youth Hostel ("Ostello della Gioventù"). You will not be admitted to a Youth Hostel without an ISIC or an International Youth Hostel Pass.

3. Bring two passport size photos of yourself so that you can get the Dante Alighieri I.D. card. There is no charge for this I.D. card, and it will provide you with free admission to discotheques like Space Elettronica where admission is regularly 15,000 lira. It will also give you a discount at one of the small cafés near the school (ask the people at the CLIDA what else it's good for).


Florence is considered the art capital of Italy and the city where the Italian Renaissance attained its finest form. Florence is filled with some of the world's most famous works of art; to appreciate them better you may want to take an art history course at your college or university before going to Italy, or take the art history course at the CLIDA.

To make the most of your stay in Florence we recommend that you buy a good guide book which describes all the important sites. For those of you who plan to do some traveling in Italy, Michelin's "Green Guide" to Italy and Penguin's Guide to Italy contain an excellent summary of all the important historical and artistic sites in almost every town and city in Italy. If you plan to limit your stay to Florence and its surroundings, we recommend the Norton "Blue Guide" to Florence. These and other guide books are available in the United States and in Italy, and the introduction to each book gives a very good summary of Italian history and civilization.

If you plan to travel in Italy, we recommend that you buy Let's Go: Italy (published by Harvard Student Services). This guide lists most, but not all, the inexpensive hotels, hostels, and restaurants in Italy. It also contains other valuable information for students and tourists traveling through Italy on a tight budget.

The more you know about Italian art, history, and civilization, the more you will appreciate your stay in Italy. For lighter reading, you may want to read a translation of Dante Alighieri's Vita nuova, Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, or some of Francesco Petrarca's poems. These "three crowns" of Florence brought Italian language and literature to its greatest heights almost 700 years ago.

If you are in Florence to learn Italian, the best way to do this is to speak it whenever you have the opportunity: speak to the members of your Italian family, the other foreign students attending the CLIDA, the elderly sitting on the park benches, the merchants in the market stalls of San Lorenzo, and the nuns, monks and priests in the various churches you will be visiting. In summer most Italians your age are out of school and on vacation, so you might not find many people your age in Florence. You may, however, be able to meet some in July at the Mensa Universitaria (University Cafeteria) in Via San Gallo, or at one of the many public swimming pools: Bella Riva, Campo Marte, etc.

Listen to the radio (bring your Walkman to Italy), watch T.V. (you'll see a lot of your favorite American programs dubbed in Italian, especially on the "private channels"), and browse through some popular Italian magazines (Epoca, Panorama, etc.). Not all Italians speak English, but most appreciate the fact that you are trying to express yourself in their language. Those who do know English will want to practice it with you; discourage them from doing this--it only defeats the purpose of being on this program.


It gets very hot in Florence during July and August. Since electricity is three to four times more expensive in Italy than in the United States, air conditioning is virtually non-existent (except at travel agencies and some stores). To keep your room from getting too hot, you should leave the windows open and close the shutters just enough to keep the sun out and the air flowing in. At night you should not turn on the lights in your bedroom unless the windows are closed, otherwise you will attract a lot of mosquitoes. Ask your host family if they have anything against mosquitoes. If they do not, you should consider buying a small mosquito killer at the Standa or the Upim (the only two department stores in Florence). The mosquito killer plugs into the wall and burns a blue tablet for about 10 hours, releasing a sweet smelling mosquito-repellent. The most common brands are Raid (by Johnson Wax) and VAP: both a reasonably priced and come with about 20 tablets (you can buy additional tablets separately).

The coolest public buildings in Florence are the churches, and there are many churches worth visiting in summer! Try to schedule your day in such a way as to do your outdoor activities (walks, visits, etc.) during the cooler hours of the day. Shops, churches, and other tourist attractions in Florence close at 1:00, re-open around 4:00, and stay open until 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. (Upim is the only major store open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm). Give yourself plenty of time when you visit the major museums (Gli Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti): it may take two visits just to get through one of them. (See the museum schedule at the end of this booklet.)


Although our group of students is small, there will be about 400 students from all over the world who will be studying at the CLIDA next summer. As many as six or eight of these students will be living with your host family; you will, therefore, have to share a bedroom with another student (usually one from our program).

You will have breakfast and dinner with the host family. Continental breakfast consists of just a roll with butter and jam, and coffee or "caffelatte" (coffee and milk). Since lunch is the main meal of the day, dinner tends to be light. The bakeries are closed on Sundays, so don't expect fresh bread that day; you can, however, get fresh pastry at a "bar."

We recommend that students give a present to their host family upon arrival. You may want to give a book with color photos of your hometown, state, or region. Students have also given smaller presents to their host family during their stay in Florence (bouquets of flowers for the lady of the house, a bottle of wine, etc.). These and other expressions of your gratitude will always be appreciated by the host family.

Like most Europeans, Italians appreciate guests who are considerate. Try, therefore, to accommodate your life style as much as possible to that of your host family. For example, when your family takes its afternoon "siesta" between 1:00 and 4:00, you should try to be quiet--be sure you have a pair of ear-phones for your Walkman! Since most things in Florence are closed between 1:00 and 4:00, you won't be able to do much during those hot and quiet hours except your homework.

Past participants on our program have been pleased with their host families. Don't be surprised, however, if you find a family of one (a widow or divorcée), and don't be disappointed if these single women don't have much time for you (besides running the house, they may also have a job).

Chances are that whatever rules applied to you when you were living with your parents, still apply when you live with your host family. In order to insure a pleasant relationship with your host family, we recommend that you do the following:

a) Avoid making long distance phone calls from your host family's home; instead, go to a public phone booth or to a bar. Since Italian phone bills are not itemized, your host family has no way of knowing who made which calls, or how much each call cost. Make sure that your friends and family in the States do not call you at home late in the evening (i.e. after 11 p.m.). When you receive a long distance call from the States, try not to stay on the phone too long: your host family may be expecting other calls. We recommend that you inform your friends and family when they can call you at home or at school.

b) Try to confine most of your domestic activities to your bedroom. The fact that there is a living room, does not mean that you can use it as a den. The Italian living room tends to be used for visits, tea, and formal occasions (it does not necessarily serve as an entertainment center).

c) Ask for your host's permission before you do anything outside your bedroom (smoking, watching T.V., taking a shower, washing your laundry, or inviting a friend over). It is always better to ask if you can do something, rather than assume that you can do it. Host families will be more willing to let you do what you want if you are polite and considerate.

d) Be sure you inform your host family whenever you plan to stay out late, go out of town, or plan to do something which might disrupt the family's routine (like not coming to dinner).

e) Don't put your feet anywhere except on the floor. A common complaint Italians have about American students is that they're always putting their feet on the furniture.

f) Don't raid the refrigerator (Italian families have complained about this American custom). If you are hungry and can't wait until dinner, go out and get something at a "bar" or a "negozio di alimentari."

g) Try not to leave the lights on in your room when you aren't there; and take a quick shower, not a bath (in many Italian homes hot water never lasts very long, and takes time to reheat).

h) Clean the sink and bathtub after you've used them: don't leave your hair in the tub or sink for others to clean: there is no maid service. If your hair is long, try not to throw it down the toilet since it may clog the sewage lines (the same is true for sanitary napkins).

i) No matter how simple and plain the house may seem, chances are it's always clean. Therefore, try not to dirty it: make sure you wipe your feet before entering the house; and if your shoes are wet, take them off so that you don't track the floors.

j) Let me know if you have trouble understanding or communicating with your host family: I can always phone them and try to resolve any problems before they adversely affect your relationship with them.

k) Finally, if you have been on your best behavior and still feel uncomfortable living with your host family, don't hesitate to ask me or Ms. Danila Rustia at the CLIDA to find you another family.

l) Here are a few questions you might want to ask your host family after you have settled in:

At what time do we have dinner? A che ora si cena la sera?

By what time must I be home at night? A che ora devo rientrare a casa la sera?

When can I take a shower? Quando posso fare la doccia?

Where can I wash my clothes? Dove posso fare il bucato?

Where can I hang my laundry? Dove posso appendere il bucato?

Could you please lend me your iron? Mi potrebbe prestare il ferro da stiro, per favore?

Can I watch T.V.? Posso guardare la televisione?

Is there a pharmacy near by? C'è una farmacia qui vicino?

Which bus stop is the closest to your home? Qual è la fermata più vicina a casa Sua?

Which bus will bring me close to the CLIDA? Quale autobus mi porterà presso la Dante Alighieri?


1. Use the formal "Lei" (3rd person singular) instead of the informal "tu" (2nd person singular) with everyone who is older than you (your teachers, your host family, merchants, waiters, etc.). You may even want to address people your age with the "Lei" form, and wait for them to say: "Diamoci del tu" ("Let's use the 'tu' form") before using the informal "tu" with them. Say "Ciao" only to people you use the "tu" form with; and say "Buon giorno" and "ArrivederLa" (or the less formal "Arrivederci") to people you use the "Lei" form with.
2. Always greet a person you know, especially a person who is older than you. In Italy, polite students are the first to greet their teachers, (host) family members, etc. It is impolite not to greet an older adult just because (s)he did not greet you first.
3. Say "Grazie" ("thank you") anytime someone does something for you, even if you did not ask them to do it (such as serving you your meal, picking up your dish after you have eaten, etc.).
4. If you have the keys to your host family's house, ask "Permesso?" the moment you enter the house. (You are asking "permission" to enter their house.) This is a polite way of letting your host family know that you are inside their home. If they hear you, they will answer: "Avanti!" In fact, you should ask "Permesso?" anytime you enter an Italian home.
5. If you are sitting down, and an older adult (teacher, host family member, etc.) comes and begins talking to you, you should stand up to listen to her/him, especially if (s)he is standing.
6. Whenever dinner is served, wait for the lady of the house or her husband to begin eating. It is impolite to begin eating before everyone has been served, or before the lady of the house has sat down. If, however, the lady of the house asks you to begin, "Prego, cominciate", you can do so, even if she is still serving others and hasn't sat down yet.
7. Do not get up from the table until everyone else is through eating and/or until your host family has gotten up. If you need to get up during the meal (to go to the bathroom or to speak to someone who has phoned you), say "Con permesso" ("with [your] permission").
8. Finally, remember that "La gentilezza non costa niente" ("courtesy doesn't cost a cent"). You will find that your relationship with others, especially older Italian adults, will be at its best when you make a point of being courteous and sensitive to their way of thinking and behaving.


More tourists visit Florence than Greece (about six million each year). The city, therefore, is well equipped for tourism: it has over six hundred eating-places, and thousands of shops and stores. Several of the restaurants and shops, however, take advantage of the large number of tourists and overcharge them. The best way to avoid this is by comparing prices carefully, and by avoiding those places which cater only to tourists (e.g. the crowded restaurants in the "centro" [downtown] with neon lights and/or cafeteria-like accommodations). Once you can tell Florentines and tourists apart, you should find it easier to determine which places are "tourist traps" and which ones aren't.

Shops and restaurants are less expensive the farther they are from the "centro" (since few tourists ever go there). Most shopkeepers (except grocers and restauranteurs) are prepared to negotiate on the price of their wares. Don't be afraid to ask how much something costs ("Quanto costa?"), and if the shopkeeper is willing to give you a discount ("Mi fa lo sconto?"). If you plan to buy something in Florence which is also sold in the U.S. (Swiss army knives, etc.), find out how much it costs at an American department store (Walmart, K-Mart, Sears, Target, etc.) before you go to Italy. Chances are it will cost more in Florence than in the United States. This is because there are very few retail department stores in Italy (Standa and Upim are the only two in Florence). Most shops and stores in Italy are small, family-run businesses which charge more than a department store.

It is considered impolite to enter a shop and say "Voglio solo guardare" (I'm just looking around). Whenever you enter a shop, you must be served by a commesso/a (salesman/woman) and tell him/her what it is you would like to look at or try on (you cannot touch or try on the merchandise on your own, except at the Standa and Upim). For example, if you want to buy a pair of shoes, first decide which ones in the show window you like, then go inside the shop and tell the salesperson, "Buongiorno, vorrei provare un paio di scarpe che ho visto in vetrina" ("Good morning, I would like to try a pair of shoes I saw in the show window"). Then go out of the shop with the salesperson and show her/him the pair you would like to try. There is no choice of width when you buy shoes in Italy: you have to settle for whatever size fits you. Remember that Italian sizes for shoes and clothes do not correspond to American sizes (look at the conversion table at the end of this booklet).

There is a 18% Value Added Tax (IVA) on everything you buy; you can get reimbursed for this tax if you have a receipt for 300,000 lire or more. To obtain this refund, you must ask the store owner for a "foglio IVA," fill it out, have it stamped at the customs office ("Dogana") in the airport you are departing from, and then send it back to the merchant. A check in Italian lire will be sent to you within approximately three months.

Finally, be sure you get the correct change back after every purchase. It is not uncommon to find some shopkeepers and public officials (even postal workers and ticket agents) shortchanging a tourist.


The small family-run restaurants in Italy are called "trattorie." The less expensive "trattorie" are located in the back roads and smaller streets of the city. Most "trattorie" and restaurants have a menu posted on the door. When you order, be sure you do not get an English menu (the prices on it may be higher than those on the Italian menu). If they give you an English menu, tell them that you want an Italian one: "Voglio il menù italiano."

When you are at a "trattoria" or restaurant in Italy, you are expected to order a "primo" (first course) and a "secondo" (an entrée). If you want to save money, you can limit your meal to a "secondo" with a "contorno" (side dish), but you should not order a "primo" without a "secondo." (Since the linen tablecloth and napkins are replaced after every meal, restauranteurs lose money when a tourist orders just a plate of spaghetti.) If you wish to order only a "primo," we suggest that you do so at a cafeteria-like "Self-service" (there are several of them in "centro").

The least expensive "trattorie" in Florence will charge about $15 for a simple two course meal (see the short list on p. 27). You can, however, have a complete meal for about 8000 lira at the Mensa Universitaria (the can university cafeteria in Via San Gallo), but it is open only in July. The CLIDA has its own cafeteria in the basement, and offers a dish of pasta, fruit, cookies, and wine for 8000 lira a day, or 7000 lira a day if you buy a two week meal ticket. The CLIDA does not serve lunch on weekends. You will save money, however, if you buy a "panino" (sandwich) at a "bar" (café), or some cold cuts and cheese at a "salumeria" (deli), some fresh bread at a "panetteria" (bakery), and make your own sandwich. The Standa in Via Pietrapiana has a supermarket with a deli in the back. (It also has the lowest prices in town).

Whenever you eat out, we strongly urge you not to order shellfish of any sort ("vongole," "cozze," "molluschi," etc.) since there is always a chance that they were fished in polluted waters. The risk of catching Hepatitis B outweighs the pleasure of eating "spaghetti alle vongole." All other seafood should be safe to eat.  Earlier this year (2001) there have been five cases of "mad cow disease" reported in Italy.  The Italian government has recently implemented widespread testing of all cattle sent to the Italian butchers.  This testing is supposed to insure that the disease does not get into the food chain; but if you do not wish to take any chances, you may want to avoid eating beef while in Italy.

Before leaving a restaurant or shop, be sure you have your receipt: you are required by law to show it to the police, if they ask to see it. The law was passed in the 1980's in order to crack down on tax evasion by restauranteurs and shopkeepers. To enforce this law, police are allowed to stop anyone leaving a restaurant, beauty salon, grocery store, or shop to see if (s)he has a "ricevuta fiscale" (receipt). If you do not have a receipt, both you and the owner of the establishment will be fined. It is unlikely that you will ever get stopped, but if you do, it will be within fifty yards of the restaurant, shop, or grocery store you walked out of. Once you are past the fifty yard limit you can dispose of your receipt (or keep it for tax purposes.)


Food has always played an important part in Italian culture and history, and is almost sacred. During World War II many Italian families had only one piece of bread a day, and one egg a month; even today certain foods, such as beef and veal, are very expensive because they have to be imported from France and Germany. Try, therefore, not to leave food in your dish (it is impolite to do so). Be sure you let your family know what you do not like to eat before they prepare it. If you are not sure you like something, ask if you can try it first ("Posso provarne un po'?").

Florentine cuisine is known for its simplicity, wholesomeness, and good flavor. Many Florentine dishes are flavored with Tuscan olive oil, which is light green and stronger than the milder, yellow olive oils produced in southern Italy. Below are some Florentine specialties as they might appear on a menu:

"Antipasti" (hors d'oeuvres or appetizers):

1. "Salame toscano" and "finocchiona" are tasty salamis which you can also buy at a "Salumiere."

"Primi" (first courses):

1. "Minestrone toscano:" a thick vegetable soup made of black cabbage, white beans, potatoes, and herbs.
2. "Pappardelle:" big egg-noodles which are served either "asciutte" ("dry," i.e. just with butter) or with "sugo di carne" (meat sauce).

"Secondi" (entrées):

1. The best known Florentine dish is "bistecca alla fiorentina." This beefsteak is at least an inch thick, and is cooked on a grill. It is flavored with just salt and pepper. At a restaurant or "trattoria" you usually order it by the "etto" (hectogram--about a quarter of a pound). Some of the less expensive "trattorie" (e.g. Gozzi in Piazza San Lorenzo) charge 3000 lire per hectogram.
2. "Spiedini" (skewered meat): this usually consists of pieces of liver ("fegato") with alternating pieces of bacon and bread. It is garnished with sage and fennel. In winter, they use "uccelletti" (small birds) instead of liver.
3. "Arista:" pork loins flavored with garlic and rosemary.
4. "Pollo alla diavola:" chicken rapidly braised and seasoned with mustard and pepper.
5. "Trippa alla fiorentina:" tripe prepared with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.
6. "Il tortino di carciofi:" an omelette made with pieces of fried artichokes.

"Contorni" (side dishes usually served with the "secondi"):

1. "Fagioli toscani:" boiled beans flavored with olive oil.
2. "Fagioli all'uccelletto:" beans which are lightly fried in olive oil, salt, pepper, sage and tomatoes.
3. "Piselli alla fiorentina:" peas flavored with olive oil, parsley, and small pieces of ham.

"Dolci" (desserts, cheese, fruit, and other foods served at the end of the meal):

1. "Pecorino toscano:" an aged cheese similar to Parmesan, but made from sheep's milk.
2. "Bomboloni alla crema:" cream filled pastry. You can also get them at a "bar" or "pasticceria" (pastry shop).
3. "Fritelle di San Giuseppe" and "Fritti di riso" are pancake-like fritters.

"Vini" (wines):
1. Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino are two of the best red wines in Italy: both are from Tuscany (the region surrounding Florence). These two wines also make nice presents.
2. Chianti, the best known wine in Italy, is made in the countryside just south of Florence. It is a clear, dry red wine (10-12% alcohol) which is best drunk after it has aged for at least two years. Due to the enormous production of this wine in Italy, only those bottles which have a "gallo nero" (black rooster) or a "putto" (little angel) on the cork label are considered genuine Chianti wines. (The other Chianti wines may be very good, but are not necessarily produced in the designated Chianti regions.)
3. Vinsanto is a sweet dessert wine made from raisins. Due to its high alcoholic content, Florentines tend to drink it as a liquor.


Wine and alcohol have also played an important part in Italian culture through the centuries. As a rule, Italians only drink alcoholic beverages with food (i.e. with their meals). They do not drink for the sake of drinking ("social drinking" is rare and is restricted to "il bar" and formal receptions).

When American students come to Italy and discover that there is no "drinking age" and that wine and liquor are "cheap," many begin drinking at the most inappropriate moments and in all the wrong places. In so doing, the students give a very bad impression of themselves and of their country. Italians are more impressed by your ability to discern a good wine from a modest one, than by how much wine you can drink. Furthermore, anyone who drinks in order to get drunk or "buzzed" will lose the respect of everyone around him/her.

If you enjoy drinking wine and liquor, you should do so only during your meals, or at a "bar" (the Italian equivalent of a café). Learn which liquors are drunk just before a meal (they are called "aperitivi"), which are drunk right after a meal (they are called "digestivi"), and which wines (not liquors) are drunk during a meal. The kind of wine you drink at a meal (red, white, sweet, dry, etc.) often depends on the food you will be eating. Be sure to have your host's permission to buy and drink alcohol at your meals, and be prepared to share it with the other people at the table.

Italians are educated in the proper way of drinking alcoholic beverages at a very early age: it is not surprising to see parents mix some wine and water in their children's glass; nor is it uncommon to see teenagers drinking modest amounts of wine with their parents at the dinner table. This and the fact that liquor is not a "forbidden fruit" may explain why Italy has the lowest percentage of alcoholics in Europe, and one of the lowest percentages anywhere in the world. It is in your best interest, therefore, to respect the unwritten drinking codes of your host country.

Finally, remember that you will not be allowed to board an airplane if you are drunk. We recommend that you avoid alcohol while you are on the plane, especially if you are not used to jet-lag or flying.


Most tap water in Italy is safe to drink. When water is not drinkable, it is usually indicated by a pictogram of a faucet and a glass with an X over it. The words "acqua non potabile" usually appear below the pictogram. Whenever you are in doubt, buy mineral water ("acqua minerale"). Mineral water, like wine, is an important part of Italian culture. Some of the natural springs in Italy are centuries old: Michelangelo was cured of kidney stones with Fiuggi mineral water, one of Italy's most popular mineral waters to this day. It is said, moreover, that you will get poor service in an Italian restaurant if you do not order mineral water. (You are under no obligation to order wine; but you should not order tap water instead of mineral water.) Mineral water is inexpensive, and, unlike wine, you can drink it anywhere, anytime, without offending anyone. Furthermore, drinking mineral water will help you replenish your body with the salts and minerals you lose when you sweat. Be sure you have a bottle of it whenever you travel: it is a good preventive of dehydration and diarrhea.


When you wish to order a beverage at a "bar" or "caffè" (a "bar" is smaller and less expensive than a "caffè"), do not expect ice in your drink. Most soft drinks and mineral waters are already chilled when they are served (they are usually taken straight from the refrigerator). If you want ice ("ghiaccio"), you must ask for it; but do not expect to get very much. We recommend, however, that you avoid using ice since it might be made from impure water.

Any time you order something at a "caffè" or a "bar," it will cost more if you have it "al tavolo" (sitting down at a table) than if you have it "al banco" (standing at the counter). This is because you pay more for the services of a "cameriere" (waiter) than you do for those of a "barista" (bartender). If you wish to order something "al banco," you must first pay for it "alla cassa" (at the cashier) where you will receive a "scontrino" (receipt) which in turn you must give to the "barista" before he can serve you. You should not buy something at a "cassa" and then sit down at a table to eat or drink it: the waiter must serve you if you are sitting at a table.

Cafès located in a nice part of town will charge considerably more for the same product (whether a cup of coffee, a bottle of mineral water, or an ice cream) than a "bar" located in a small alley. The reason for this is that "you are also paying for the view" (property taxes are much higher for a "caffè" which is located near an important tourist attraction, than for a "bar" which does not have interesting surroundings). As you will soon find out, the most expensive "caffè" are located in major piazzas, next to historic monuments, or overlooking beautiful landscapes. Beverages cost a lot less if you buy them at a supermarket ("supermercato"), like the Standa in Via Pietrapiana, or at a grocery store ("negozio di alimentari").

Even though service is already included in the price you pay for the things you order at a "caffè," "bar," or restaurant, you still should leave a tip (5 to 10% of the bill): practically everyone in Italy does.


Italy hardly has any fossil fuel sources of its own, therefore it must import most of its energy from abroad (a gallon of gas costs more than four dollars.) Since energy, like food, is so expensive in Italy, you should avoid wasting it while you are living with your family.

Remember that all electric appliances in Italy run on 220 volts as opposed to 110 volts. Do not bring a hair drier, razor, or portable iron unless it has a built-in converter. If you cannot find a dual voltage (110 & 220) hair drier in the U.S., you and your roommate(s) may want to split the cost of buying an 220 volt hair drier at the Standa or the Upim (they cost about $15). If you prefer to buy a transformer, be sure you also buy a plug converter: the plugs on American appliances are not the same as those on European appliances.


Italy is in the vanguard of fashion design: some of the world's leading fashion designers are actually based in Florence (Ferragamo, Pucci, et al.). Before leaving Florence, you may want to buy some Italian clothes when they go on sale. The "saldi" or "svendite" (sales) may occur at any time during the summer (Gucci usually has its sales in July). Some of the best sales take place after August 15th (a national holiday), when summer fashion is slowly replaced by fall fashion. The most expensive fashion centers are in Via Tornabuoni (Florence's version of New York's Fifth Avenue). Practically every leading fashion designer in Italy has a store on this street (Gucci, Ferragamo, Armani, Valentino, Beltrami, et al.). Even if you do not plan to buy anything there, visiting these stores is as much an aesthetic experience as going to a museum; and unlike many family-run stores, you can "look around." For less expensive clothes, look at the stores located on the smaller streets that branch off of Via Calzaiuoli.

In summer the Italian dress code can range from conservative to provocative. Regardless of how Florentines choose to dress, their street clothes usually reflect the latest fashion of a country that is known for setting fashion trends. Furthermore, what may be permissible for an Italian to wear may create a negative effect when an American wears it. For example, young American women wearing mini-skirts are sexually harassed by the "pappagalli" (see p. 23) whereas Italian women in mini-skirts are not.

According to an Italian proverb, "Mangia a gusto tuo, vesti al gusto degli altri" (Eat as you like, but dress as others would like you to dress). Since tourists are judged and treated according to the way they dress, we urge you not to wear ragged or scanty clothes, and that you avoid exposing your shoulders or midriff in public, or your legs above your knees. Few Italians wear shorts, halter tops, tank tops, sleeveless blouses, T-shirts that look like undershirts, or "grunge." Those that do, wear a distinctly Italian fashion which you probably would not wear in the U.S. Similarly, an American who wears something an Italian is unlikely to wear will be treated accordingly. If you want to be treated well and get good service in stores, restaurants, and other public places, we recommend that you wear your nicer clothes when you go out. When visiting a church, men and women are not allowed to wear shorts or enter bare shouldered: you will be denied access to a church if you do not dress appropriately.

Since Florence is very hot in summer, you should bring light summer clothing made of 100% cotton (natural fibers are cooler than polyester). Try to bring 100% cotton clothes that don't need to be ironed after each washing (polo shirts, jeans, etc.). It is unlikely that you will have access to a washing machine in your new home, so be prepared to wash your things by hand (one more reason for bringing light clothing--it takes less time to dry). It is virtually impossible to find a laundromat in Florence; and if you bring your clothes to the cleaners, it can easily cost you a dollar a pound.

Since it does not rain much in Florence during the summer, you will not need a raincoat. You may want, however, to bring a small folding umbrella. Since you will be doing a lot of sight-seeing, we strongly urge you to bring two pairs of comfortable walking shoes (Rockport, Easy Spirit, or tennis shoes). We also recommend that you bring a pair of plastic "flip-flops" or "tongs" to wear whenever you are in the bathroom.

It is not necessary to wear different clothes every day of the week (most Europeans do not). As far as clothes are concerned, the male students in our group felt that the most any man should bring are: five or six changes of underwear, four or five pairs of quick drying socks, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of slacks, one long sleeve shirt, two short sleeve shirts, four polo shirts, a pair of swimming trunks, and a sweater. The female students should consider taking one lightweight dress, two or three skirts, four or five tops (one long sleeve, four short sleeve) to match skirts and pants, two pairs of jeans or slacks, one pair of pajamas or a nightgown, one bathing suit, enough lingerie for four or five days, and a light sweater. Both male and female students may also want to bring a bath towel for when they go to the beach or travel (you are not allowed to bring hotel towels on the beach). If you pack more than this, you will regret it afterwards!

The biggest mistake you can make when you go abroad is to bring too much rather than too little. It is not always possible to find luggage carts (the train station in Florence is one of the few in Italy that has them); so be prepared to hire a porter or carry your luggage by yourself. You should leave some room in your suitcase for clothes, books, souvenirs, and other things you buy in Italy.

If you buy a suitcase with wheels on it, you will probably have trouble with it on cobblestones. Instead, you can buy a fold-out luggage-cart at a department store (K-Mart, Macy's or Belk's), or if you decide to buy a luggage-cart in Italy, you can always find one at the Standa or at Upim.

All your luggage should have labels with your name and your address in Florence. You will know with whom you will be staying a few weeks prior to departure. If for some reason you do not have this information before leaving, write your name and the address of the CLIDA on the luggage labels (the address is on p. 26).


The Italian Government has ruled that all foreign students must have health insurance which covers, in its entirety, Italian hospitalization costs. If your parent's insurance policy does not cover you overseas, be sure to get an International Student Identification Card (ISIC) since it comes with a minimum accident/sickness insurance policy.

Unlike the United States, Italy has a national health policy which makes health care more affordable. In the unlikely event that you need to be hospitalized, you may have to pay cash and seek reimbursement from your insurance company. If you do not think you will have enough money to pay cash, ask your relatives to wire you the money.

For immediate medical assistance, you can always go to the emergency room ("pronto soccorso") of the main hospital (Ospedale Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova) on Via Bufalini, in the heart of Florence. If the physician prescribes any medications, or if you need something to use outside the hospital (crutches, etc.), you must buy them at a pharmacy ("farmacia"); hospitals, as a rule, do not sell such things.

Most pharmacists can take care of minor ailments (colds, intestinal problems, etc.). Unless you think you have a serious illness, you might want to consult a pharmacist before going to the hospital. Find out which is the closest pharmacy to your home, and which pharmacy is the "farmacia di turno" (the one open at night, on Sunday's, and on holidays). The address and phone number of the "farmacia di turno" are usually posted on the door of your local pharmacy. There are several pharmacies that are open 24 hours a day and have someone on duty who speaks English (see addresses on p. 27). If you prefer to have a personal physician look after you, you can get a list of recommended physicians from the U.S. Consulate (tel. 29-82-76).

Bring a small first-aid kit with you (aspirin, peroxide, band-aids, over the counter cold medicine, antacids, etc.): it may prove to be quite useful.


Although this has not been a problem in Florence, there was a report in the newspapers of a small store in Rome that abducted several young female clients as they were trying clothes on in the fitting room. It is not clear what happened to these young women, but the police speculate that they were sent to harems in foreign countries. Be careful about entering less-than-reputable stores in less-than-safe parts of town, whether you are in Rome, Naples, or even Florence.

Violent crime is much lower in Italy than it is in the United States (more homicides take place in New York City than in all of Italy). Florence is one of the safest cities in Italy, and is safer than any American city its size (400,000 inhabitants). You should, however, adopt the same precautions you would in any American city, especially at night. If you go out at night, be sure you know when to take the last bus home, and by what time your family wants you to be home. On weekends you are required to tell me and your host family where you plan to go, and for how long.

Whenever you travel, do not bring jewelry or large amounts of cash with you. A woman should not bring expensive jewelry to Europe: there is always the risk that her gold chains will be ripped off her neck by a drug addict or a petty thief. Women should also avoid carrying handbags or shoulder bags since these can easily be stolen by purse snatchers on mopeds and motorcycles. When in Florence, leave your passport, credit cards, travelers checks, and large amounts of cash at home; when you need to bring them to town, carry them in a wallet, pocketbook, or poach which you can comfortably hold in your hands, tie around your waist, or hang around your neck. If you must carry a handbag or shoulder bag, make sure you are not carrying it on the street-side.

Only bring what you plan to spend that day. If you find something you want to buy, and don't have your credit card or travelers check on you, you can always give an "acconto" (deposit) to the merchant so that (s)he can hold it for your.

All tourists should beware of pick-pockets, especially Gypsy children and their mothers. Do not be surprised if you find people soliciting money, drugs, or even sexual favors at night: either ignore them or just say "no" and keep walking. Do not let strangers, not even Gypsy children, stop you when you are walking: that is the surest way to get robbed or harassed.

Downtown Florence is considered fairly safe at night. As long as you avoid walking in isolated parts of town at night (parks, streets without restaurants or cafés, and uninhabited neighborhoods) you should be safe. If you plan to wander about Florence late at night, do so with a group of friends.

The greatest threat to you will probably come from the chaotic traffic. Most motorists in Florence stop at a red light, but don't count on it! In Naples and parts of Rome, no one stops at a red light unless someone is crossing the road. Speed limits are rarely enforced in Italy, and it is quite common to see motorists going down a narrow alley at breakneck speed. Even though certain parts of Florence are closed to motorists during certain hours of the day, you should always exercise caution whenever you cross a street or piazza. In the "centro" (especially around the Duomo) it is hard to tell where the road begins and the sidewalk ends, so be careful where you walk!


In the summer of 1993 a terrorist car bomb went off at 1:00 a.m. in front of the Uffizi museum in Florence. A family of five, living inside the museum, was killed. Although such terrorist activities are not new in Italy, it had been quite a few years since a public place was hit, and this was the first time that a museum had been hit.

Since terrorists do not want their actions to be mistaken for those of a common criminal, they tend to be very selective when it comes to choosing a target: it is usually a place or a person with a high public profile. For example, when one of the World Trade Towers in New York was bombed in 1993, this act attracted more attention world wide than the terrorist bombs that went off in two small buildings in New York several years earlier.

Motives for a terrorist bombing in Italy will have more to do with internal political affairs than with foreign affairs. The Italian terrorist is more likely to lash out at political institutions (represented by politicians, magistrates, and the police) than at ordinary bystanders.

You should feel relatively secure in knowing the following:

1. Having suffered its first major terrorist attack ever, it is extremely unlikely that Florence will suffer another one any time soon.
2. As has often been the case after a major terrorist attack, security within the city and especially at public institutions is beefed-up, especially during the tourist season. You will see a lot of police officers and military police (called "Carabinieri") patrolling the parts of the city which tourists visit the most. Get used to seeing these men and women carrying machine guns.
3. Since you will be living with an Italian family and attending an Italian language school (as opposed to an American college with its own building in Florence) it is extremely unlikely that you will be deliberately targeted by criminals of any sort. Try, however, not to display in public the fact that you are American (wearing T-shirts with American symbols or culture written on it, speaking out loud in English, or behaving in a way that is noticeably different from the way the Italians are behaving). Since the rate of violent crime in Italy is a fraction of what it is in U.S., tourists feel safer and often forget to take the same safety precautions that they would take in the U.S.
4. When you are traveling on public transportation, especially trains, beware of unattended baggage. If you and the other people in your compartment cannot identify a piece of luggage, someone in the compartment should bring it to the attention of a conductor ("controllore"). The worst civilian casualties from terrorist bombings in Italy have occurred when right wing terrorists set off bombs on trains or inside train stations. Therefore, be wary when you are traveling, and try to spend as little time as possible in the waiting room of a train station.
5. Finally, as terrorist experts in the U.S. and Italy have pointed out, you are more likely to get hit by a car than by a terrorist. So try not to be overly concerned.


Public transportation in Italy is far more extensive than anything we have in the U.S. You can get to practically any place in Italy by taking either the train or the bus. In Florence, as in most Italian cities, the bus terminal is in front of the main train station (Santa Maria Novella).

You need to buy your bus ticket before boarding the bus, and after you get on, you must punch your ticket in the machine. As a rule, you get on the bus at the back if you have a ticket to punch, and in front if you have a bus pass to show the driver. The doors in the middle of the bus are where you get off. You may buy tickets either at the newsstand, at the "Tabacchi" (tobacco shops), or at the ticket booths at the bus terminals.

In Florence there are several kinds of bus tickets that you can buy:

1. "Biglietto 60 minuti" an ordinary bus ticket for 1100 lire which gives you unlimited travel on one or more buses for up to one hour from the time you punch the ticket.
2. "Un biglietto multiplo" (a ticket with four rides each) for 4000 lire (a savings of 400 lire).
3. "Biglietto 120 minuti" which gives you unlimited travel for two hours from the time you punch your ticket.
4. "Biglietto 24 Ore" which gives you unlimited travel for 24 hours.
5. "Carta Arancio" gives unlimited travel for seven days on all public buses and trains within the province of Florence. You must use it with some kind of identification (e.g. your passport).
6. "Un abbonamento ordinario mensile" (a monthly bus pass) which you can buy at the bus terminal outside the train station. The "tessera" (card) costs 5000 lire, and the monthly "abbonamento" (pass) that goes with it costs 40.000 lire a month. To get a bus pass, you need your passport and a photo.

If you prefer taking a cab, be sure it is legally registered. In big cities like Rome, Milan, and Naples there are many unauthorized cab drivers (even some petty thieves) who try to pick-up tourists in yellow cars which neither have a lit "TAXI" sign on the roof nor permit numbers visible on the body of the car: be sure the cab you take has both!


Since your weekends are free you should consider visiting some of the other famous cities in Italy. Traveling by train in Italy is fairly inexpensive: a round-trip 2nd class train ticket to Rome or Venice costs about $40 (1st class costs almost twice as much). Italy has one of the best railway networks in the world: you can get to practically every town in the country by train.

There are basically five kinds of trains you can take:
1. Pendolino (ETR 450): 1st class.
2. Rapido (R), Intercity (IC), and Eurocity (EC): 1st & 2nd class.
3. Espresso (EXP): 1st & 2nd class.
4. Diretto (D): 1st & 2nd class.
5. Regionale or Locale (L): 2nd class only.

The Regionale or Locale is a slow commuter train which stops at every town and village on the line. The Diretto stops only in Italian cities (all the major ones, and many of the minor ones). The Espresso is an international train that stops in major Italian and European cities. The Rapido, Intercity (IC), and Eurocity (EC) are fast, moderately priced trains: they stop only in major Italian and European cities. The Pendolino is the fastest and most expensive train in Italy.

We recommend that you take a Rapido, Intercity, or Eurocity when traveling to major cities in Italy. In addition to a regular second class ticket, you must also buy a "supplemento rapido" (a 25% surcharge) before you can board these three trains. Since many European tourists take these trains to come to Italy, they tend to get crowded during the summer (especially on weekends). It is in your best interest, therefore, to make reservations at booths 1-4 in the train station or at a travel agency several days before you take a Rapido, Intercity, or Eurocity. Tell the ticket agent that you want to make a reservation ("voglio fare una prenotazione") and indicate which train you wish to take, and when. The cost of the reservation is included in the price of the "supplemento rapido."

Regardless of what kind of train ticket you buy, try to buy it in advance at a travel agency in order to avoid the long lines at the train station; and be sure that the date and destination are indicated correctly on your ticket. Before buying your ticket, make sure that there isn't a strike ("sciopero") that weekend. (There are usually a couple of transportation strikes each summer.) We also suggest that you avoid traveling by train late at night: people have been robbed while sleeping on overnight trains. (Such robberies tend to occur on international trains leaving Italy.) FINALLY, YOU MUST STAMP YOUR TICKET, AS YOU WOULD A TIME-CARD, AT ONE OF THE YELLOW CLOCK-BOXES IN THE TRAIN STATION. If you fail to do this before you get on the train, you may have to pay a fine when the conductor checks your ticket.

There are several kinds of train passes you can buy:

1. If you plan to do extensive train travel within Italy, you may want to get a "Carta Verde" (Green Card). This railway pass enables students up to 26 years of age to get discounts of 20% on their train tickets. In 1993 the "Carta Verde" cost 40,000 lira. You can buy a "Carta Verde" only at the train station in Florence; you need your Passport and a photograph. Be sure to show your "Carta Verde" before you buy a train ticket.

2. Tourists who are too old to have a "Carta Verde" can buy a "biglietto chilometrico," if they plan to do extensive traveling in Italy. This ticket enables you to travel up to 3000 kilometers in a two month period (or twenty trips, whichever comes first) for 183,000 lire (2nd class). Before you board a train you must have a travel agency or a ticket agent at the station write the date and the place of destination on your "biglietto chilometrico."

3. If you plan to travel from Italy to other European countries, you can buy BIGE railway tickets with your International Student Identification Card (ISIC), and save a substantial amount of money. The best place to buy these tickets is at a Student Travel Agency (see addresses on p. 26) or at one of the several C.I.T. offices in Florence.

4. Those of you who plan to do extensive traveling throughout Italy and Europe after the program is over should consider buying a Eurail Pass in the United States before you leave (you cannot buy it in Europe). The cost of a Eurail Pass for one week is about the same as a regular ticket for a day-long train ride. Or you may buy an Inter Rail Pass in Italy at the C.I.T. office or at booth 5 in the train station.

If you are visiting a city and do not plan to stay there long, you can leave your luggage at the "deposito bagagli" in the train station, and just carry what you need. If you plan to travel on your own after the program ends, you will find the "deposito bagagli" in every major train station quite useful. Since you won't be able to leave your luggage anywhere else after the program is over, and since you probably won't want to carry all of it with you while you're visiting Italy, you should consider leaving whatever you won't be using at the "deposito bagaglio," and pick it up the day before you catch your flight back to the U.S. Our students have found this easier than lugging their suitcases all over Italy. The "deposito bagagli" is open 24 hours a day, and charges 1500 lire for each piece of luggage.


If you wish to spend the night in the city you are visiting, all major train stations have a tourist information bureau (Azienda di Promozione Turistica) which will be able to find you a hotel. (Don't confuse this bureau with the Ufficio Informazioni which only provides information on train schedules.) Be sure that you arrive before the bureau closes (usually 8:30 p.m.). The bureau can also provide you with a map of the city and information on how to get around. (The CLIDA may also be able to find you an inexpensive place where to stay, if you let them know in advance when and where you want to stay.)

Hotels in Italy are the most expensive in Europe, after Sweden. (The average price for one night is $200.) The cheapest accommodations are usually "foresterie" (religious institutions) which charge between 20,000 to 30,000 lire a night, double occupancy. In addition to being fairly inexpensive, these institutions are usually very clean and safe. Before traveling anywhere, you might want to see if you can stay at such an institution in the town you plan to visit (you can find them listed in the white pages of the local telephone directory under "conventi," "monasteri," "Domus ..."). Remember that in a "foresteria," as in any hostel or hotel, you are required to show your passport so that the manager can register your name with the local police department (everyone in the business is required by law to do so).

Italian anti-terrorist laws forbid you from having friends visit you in your hotel room. Your friends can see you in the hotel lobby, not in your room. Dishonest students who pay for only one bed, but sneak in their friends so that they can spend the night without registering and paying for the use of the room, may be imprisoned for up to six months without bond and without being formally charged!

For security purposes, never leave any valuables (including your passport and camera) unattended in your hotel: ask the hotel manager to keep them in the safe.


If you plan to spend a weekend at the beach ("la spiaggia"), there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, try to make reservations before you go there: many hotels are booked months in advance. In summer there are literally millions of Italian and foreign tourists that go to the beaches. If you do not want to pay for the locker and shower facilities of a "stabilimento balneare" (bathing establishments located on a private beach) you are still allowed by law to enter the establishment so long as you stay within a few yards of the "bagnasciuga" (the line along the shore to which the water reaches). Since the "bagnasciuga" is public property, these private establishments cannot deny you access to it; but they can kick you out of their establishment if they catch you using their facilities without paying for them. There are some beaches which are public: they have no facilities whatsoever (no cabins, lockers, showers, umbrellas, etc.) and are not well kept.

Before deciding whether to go on the Adriatic (eastern) or the Tyrrhenian (western) coast of Italy, try to find out which beaches are cleaner. If you want to explore some beaches before deciding which ones to go to, take a train ride along the Tyrrhenian coast. Some of Italy's most beautiful beaches are at Portofino, Portovenere, and the Cinqueterre, located on the Riviera di Levante (the coast that goes from Viareggio to La Spezia and up to Genoa). You will also find some nice beaches between Pisa and Orbetello (see the train map at the back). Either way, you will enjoy the train ride.


In Venice, a ticket for the "vaporetto" (public motorboats) costs: 2200 lire for lines 1, 5, 6 & 34 (the slow vaporetti) and 3300 lire for line 2 (the fast vaporetto); but if you buy a "Carta Venezia," (cost: 15000 lire) you will get a 60% discount on all "vaporetto" tickets (you need a photo and your passport). Or you can get a "Carta Giovani" at the Azienda di Promozione Turistica located inside the train station in Venice. This card is free and will give you discounts to museums, art galleries, concerts, movies, hotels, restaurants, student cafeterias, and bathing establishments. With it you can also buy a three day "vaporetto" (boat) pass called "Tre Giorni Giovani" for 15000 lire. This pass enables you to ride on all the "vaporetti" (except lines 2) in the Venetian lagoon for three days. These are far less expensive than the gondolas, which charge 50,000 lira for the first half hour, and the water-taxis, which also charge a lot.

If you wish to go to the beaches in Venice, take the "vaporetto" to the Lido (it's a 30 minute ride from Piazza San Marco, and a 45 minute ride from the train station).

If you wish to visit the island of Murano (famous for its glass blowing factories) you need to take vaporetto 5 (departing from "Zattere" and "San Zaccaria"). If you wish to visit the more famous islands of Burano and Torcello, you must take vaporetto 5 (2200 lire) as far as "Fondamenta Nuova" (on the north side of Venice) and then take vaporetto 12 (3300 lire). It may take you a whole day to visit Burano and Torcello; but it is well worth it.

These are some of the inexpensive "foresterie" (religious institutes) in Venice where you can stay:

Domus Cavanis tel. (041) 52 87 374
Dorsoduro 912 (Accademia)
30123 Venezia

Casa dello studente Domus Civica (041) 52 27 139 (for women only)
San Polo 3082
30125 Venezia

Istituto Artigianelli (041) 52 24 077
Zattere 919
30123 Venezia

The Youth Hostel (Ostello) is located on the Giudecca island. To get there from the station you must take vaporetto 5 to Zitelle-Ostello. A block from the Ostello is a "convento" (convent) where women can stay. You must wait until about 4:00 p.m. before it opens. The line of students waiting to get into both places usually starts half an hour before the places open.

There are some affordable hotels located on the Lista di Spagna (the road on your left as you get out of the train station). Ask the tourist bureau in the train station if they can find you something inexpensive there.

The American Express in Venice is located in Ca Vallaresso next to Piazza San Marco (across from the Basilica of Saint Mark): get off at the vaporetto stop "San Marco Ca Vallaresso."


The Uffici di Accoglienza e Informazione dell'Ente Provinciale per il Turismo (the local Tourist Bureau) is located in the arrivals area of Stazione Termini (the main train station in Rome). This office will provide you with a list of hotels and their price ranges, addresses, etc. (there is a small service charge if you want them to reserve a room); a map of Rome and a Carnet of Rome (listing all the events taking place in Rome); sight-seeing and museum information; shopping tips and information regarding restaurants, snack bars, etc. Do not trust the so-called "Conduttori" at the train station who falsely claim to be employees of the above mentioned Ente Provinciale per il Turismo.

All the ATAC buses in Rome leave in front of the train station (in Piazza dei Cinquecento). Bus 64 will bring you downtown to the "centro storico" and to the Vatican (the end of the line is just outside of Piazza San Pietro). Since many tourists take this bus, there are usually pick-pockets on board. Be sure to keep your purse or wallet in one hand, especially when the bus is crowded! Remember to deposit all valuables and documents--especially your passport--at your hotel.

Everyday at 3:30 bus 110 leaves from Piazza dei Cinquecento (in front of the train station) for a three hour tour of all the important places in Rome.

The American Express in Rome is in the famous Piazza di Spagna, 38 (tel. 67-641). There is also a MacDonald's that's walking distance from Stazione Termini; the prices, however, are a bit high.

These are some moderately priced hotels in Rome:

"Pensione Brotsky" in Via del Corso. (06) 361-2339
"Pensione Tizi" in Via Collina, 48. (06) 474-3266
"Pensione Ercoli" in Via Collina, 48. (06) 474-3395
"Pensione Piave" in Via Piave. (06) 474-3447

The last two "pensioni" are where the UGA Classics Studies Abroad in Rome Program stays during July and August. Like every major city in Europe, Rome too has an Ostello della Gioventù (Youth Hostel), but it is pretty far from downtown Rome.


Just about everything costs more in Italy than it does in the United States. Students are often surprised at the prices of hotels, restaurants, clothes, and food. You will need enough money to cover your lunches, your bus pass, your textbooks, local tourism (museums, etc.), and basics (pharmaceutical products, toiletry, etc.). For these and other incidentals, last year's students recommend that you bring at least $2000 and that you budget your finances wisely. If you are not a disciplined spender, or if you plan to travel during the weekends and/or do some shopping while in Florence, you will want to bring at least $3000. If in doubt, bring more money than less: it would be a shame if you did not see the other beautiful cities in Italy.

Try to estimate how much you are likely to spend, because sending money from the U.S. to Italy is cumbersome and time-consuming. Your relatives back home should never send money (not even a bank check) through the mail; instead they should wire the money. Probably the cheapest way to wire money is to send it to a branch of Thomas Cook Currency Services Inc. nearest you and have them wire the money to their branch in Florence on Lungarno Acciaioli, 6-R (next to the Ponte Vecchio). You may want to give your parents the Thomas Cook Currency Services information sheet at the end of this booklet.

If your family wants to wire money through a bank, they must make sure that their bank is affiliated with one of the major banks in Florence. If their bank is affiliated with the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, they can wire money by giving the bank the following information:

Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze
Agenzia 12
Via dei Bardi, 54

Telex n. 572391 CRFIES I

This branch (Agenzia 12) of the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze is located just a few blocks from the CLIDA. Since you go by it everyday on your way to school, you can always stop by before or after class to see if your money has arrived. If your American bank is affiliated with the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, it should take about ten days for the money to get there. If your bank is not affiliated with them, your money may take up to six weeks to get there!

The following banks in Florence are affiliated with American banks:

Banca Nazionale del Lavoro in Via Strozzi 1; 50123 Florence. TELEX: 572354/572355. (Affiliate of Citibank, Chemical Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank, Morgan Trust Guarantee, and many others.) This is the only Italian bank that has a full service branch in Atlanta; it may be faster to wire money through its Atlanta branch than through an American bank.

Banca Commerciale Italiana in Via Strozzi 8; 50123 Florence. TELEX: 5700151. (Affiliated with Bank of America and Citibank.)

Credito Italiano, Via Vecchietti 11; 50122 Florence. TELEX: 572360. (An affiliate of Chase Manhattan Bank).

Banca C. Steinhauslin, Via dei Sassetti 4; 50122 Florence. TELEX: 571050. (Correspondent with Citibank and Chase Manhattan Bank).

Banca Toscana in Via del Corso 6; 50122 Florence. TELEX: 570387/570363.

Banca d'America e d'Italia in Via Strozzi 16/r; 50123 Florence. TELEX: 570261.

Banks are open until 1:20 in the afternoon, and close in the afternoon in order to catch up on paper work. There are several banks which are open for an hour in the afternoon (usually 2:30-3:30), and others that are open Saturday morning (the Banca Nazionale delle Comunicazioni in the ticket lobby of the train station, and the Banca Commerciale Italiana in Via Por Santa Maria near the Ponte Vecchio).


Bring travelers checks: they are the most convenient and safest way to carry money. Any of the major travelers checks (American Express, Bank of America, Cook, National City Bank, etc.) can be converted into "lire" at practically any Italian bank. Avoid converting your travelers checks at a "Cambio" (exchange agencies at train stations and in "centro" which convert cash and checks at a considerably lower exchange rate than what you can get at a bank). If you need to convert cash when banks are closed, you can do so at any of the automatic tellers in town (every major bank has one): all you need are $5, $10, and $20 bills to slip into the machine.

Be sure you write your check numbers in several different places which are separate from your travelers checks (you need those numbers if your checks are stolen or lost). If your travelers checks ever get lost or stolen, you might have to file a report at the local police station ("Questura"), before seeking a reimbursement. Before buying travelers checks, find out what you must do to get reimbursed for lost or stolen checks. If the process for reimbursement is too long and complicated, you may want to consider buying American Express travelers checks since there is an American Express office just a few blocks from the CLIDA. In fact, there is an American Express Overseas Office in every major city in Italy.

If you have a credit card, bring it to Italy: it is the easiest way to get a cash advance. When you purchase something with a credit card ("la carta di credito"), you may not get a discount (since merchants have to pay a percentage to the credit card company). It is perfectly all right to negotiate over the price of an item you want to buy; but merchants are reluctant to give you a discount unless you pay cash (practically all Italians pay in cash). Furthermore, if you purchase something with a credit card, you may get a slightly lower exchange rate.

In order to get a cash advance through American Express, you must have an American Express Card and a personal checking account in the U.S. You must write a check to American Express in the amount of the cash advance. The money will be drawn from your personal account in the United States.

For MasterCard, all you need is your MasterCard and an Italian bank which accepts it (i.e. banks with a MasterCard or Cartasì logo displayed on their window). One such bank is the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.

For VISA and Bank/Americard, the Banca d'America e d'Italia in Via Strozzi 16/r will provide cash advances with a VISA card.


Although it is possible to place long distance phone calls from a local "bar," it is quite noisy, and sometimes there is a surcharge. If you call from a "bar," make sure it has a meter ("contatore"). If it does not, you will have to buy a lot of "gettoni" (telephone tokens which cost 200 lire each) to put into the telephone while you are talking.

If you wish to speak to an English speaking overseas operator, dial 170. We recommend, however, that you go to the Telecom office in Via Cavour 21r (open until 8:00 p.m.). The employees at the office will help you place your overseas calls. In Italy the lowest rates begin at 11:00 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, and are in effect all day Sunday. In the U.S. the overseas rates are the same every day of the week: the lowest rates are from 6 pm to 7 am; the medium rates are from 1 pm to 6 pm; the highest rates are from 7 am to 1 pm.

If you have an AT&T Calling Card you can call the U.S. from any phone booth in Italy, and get a much better long distance rate than you would get from the Italian phone company. Just put a "gettone" in the phone, dial 172-1011, and you will be connected to an AT&T operator. To apply for the AT&T Calling Card, call 1-800-225-5288 (the card is free).

For any other telephone credit card (MCI, SPRINT, etc.) you must either dial 170 from a public phone booth, or go to the A.S.S.T. office in Via Pellicceria and ask the man at "Cassa 1" to dial the number for you. (You are not allowed to dial 170 from the A.S.S.T.)

There is a six hour difference between Eastern Standard Time and Italian time: when it is 11:00 at night in Florence, it is 5:00 in the afternoon in Atlanta.  In most parts of the United States it is possible to dial-direct to Florence by dialing 011-39-055 + the phone number.

Remember that it costs much more to phone the U.S. from Italy than to phone Italy from the U.S. Most students agree on a time and day of the week when their parents and friends can reach them at home. Be sure you have your host's permission to receive calls at that hour: some Italian households do not like to receive calls after 10 p.m.


The mail in Italy can be quite slow in summer: this is due to the large volume of mail written by millions of tourists. Aerograms are usually the least expensive and fastest means of communicating by mail. On average, an aerogram takes about ten to fifteen days to get to the States (and visa versa); sometimes it may take longer. Write out the name of the state and the country you are mailing your letter to (avoid using state abbreviations--GA, MN, CA, NY, etc.). If you forget to do this, your mail may end up in another country ("Athens, GA" has often been mistaken for "Atene, Grecia.")

Addresses in Italy are written differently. The street number comes after the name of the street; and the zip code comes before the city. Many street numbers in Florence are followed by either an "r" for "rosso" (red) or an "n" for "nero" (black). This refers to the color of the number as it actually appears on the street: black numbers indicate residential buildings, red numbers indicate commercial buildings. This is how my address in Florence was written:

Steven Grossvogel
c/o Giani-Pavelic
Via Borgo San Jacopo, 5/n
50125 Firenze

You may have a black 5 and a red 5 on the same street but a block apart. You may also have odd numbers going in one direction, and even numbers going in the opposite direction (regardless of their color).


If you have a camera (whether a single reflex lens or a simple automatic) bring it with you to Italy: there is a lot to photograph, and cameras cost a lot more in Italy than they do in the United States. We also recommend that you take with you as much film as you think you will use this summer (film too is more expensive in Italy). Since most museums, and many churches do not allow the use of flash or tripods, you may want to bring some high speed film (400 ASA or even 1000 ASA) in order to take pictures when the light is dim. Keep in mind, however, that the faster the film speed the "grainier" the image after it is developed (that is especially true for 1000 ASA). If you have any 400 or 1000 ASA film, don't send it through the X-ray machines when you go through customs: have the customs agent "hand check" it.

Because cameras are so expensive in Italy, they are often the target of professional thieves. When you travel, do not leave your camera or other valuables unattended in your hotel or on the train (not even for a short period of time).


To avoid the embarrassing and sometimes unpleasant misunderstandings which you may experience with the opposite sex, you should be aware of the following:

Young Italian women tend to be rather conservative in their relationships with men, regardless of whether the man is a foreigner or an Italian. The "sexual revolution" of the late sixties, and the women's liberation movement of the seventies and eighties have done little to change this, especially in smaller towns and rural communities. Most young Italian women will only date a steady partner (usually her fiancé or a "family approved" boyfriend). Since "feminine modesty" is still prevalent in Italian culture, most young women will not engage in a short term relationship (platonic or otherwise) with a man. Such relationships may compromise her in the eyes of her peers, and may make her the object of gossip and/or scandal, especially in a small town or a close knit neighborhood. This becomes even more true in Southern Italy (Sicily, Calabria, etc.) where young women are often chaperoned when they go out in public, and where, in some rural communities, greeting a women you don't know can compromise her reputation and get you in serious trouble! American men, therefore, should not be surprised if they find it hard to become acquainted with young Italian women.

Young Italian men, on the other hand, are often perceived as the opposite of their female counterparts. Many foreign women have noticed that they get a lot more attention from them than they do from their boyfriends back home. For a young American woman this attention may be very flattering, especially if she is not used to getting it in the U.S.  Such attention, however, can also be very misleading especially if the young female tourist is the target of an Italian male who has been "unlucky" with Italian women, and who needs to prove something to himself and to his peers. Since foreign women are often perceived as being more "liberated" and less "inhibited" than Italian women, they can easily become the target of these "Don Giovanni" (Don Juans).

Millions of young, attractive female tourists who come to Italy each summer have had to deal with a new kind of "Latin lover" known as the "pappagallo" ("parrot"). Italian "pappagalli" have been the subject of several Italian movies and documentaries. They are often seen in discotheques, bars, and piazzas trying to "pick-up" the female tourists. Don't be surprised if you come across a few during your summer in Florence.

Before a young American woman engages in any kind of personal relationship with an Italian man, she should try to learn as much as she can about the culture which governs such a relationship. She should always remember that, notwithstanding the differences that may exist between her and Italian women of her age, she will always be judged by the social and moral codes Italian women are judged by. For example, if she flirts in public, she will acquire a "dubious reputation;" and if she says "Ciao!" to a stranger, it will be interpreted as a sign that she "is interested in the man." (It is not impolite to ignore a stranger who says "ciao" to you since he is probably trying to get your attention.)

Finally, do not let any of the above generalizations keep you from making acquaintances with Italians your age. When it comes to interpersonal relations, Italians tend to be very respectful of others. Even a "pappagallo" will cease and desist if the woman he has accosted makes her intentions clear to him from the beginning. It is unlikely, therefore, that your new friends and acquaintances will try to take advantage of you.


"Students should read the program director's booklet carefully."

"Remember that you are not going to be on a vacation. The responsibility of being a student and taking care of yourself while you try to become an adventurer must remain in your mind."

"Know as much as you can about Italian literature, history, or politics before going there. It will help you understand the people much better."

"Be open minded--learn how to deal with the people on their terms--don't impose U.S. culture."

"Don't be afraid to get involved with the Italian culture. Talk to lots of Italians -- you'll learn so much. Respect the traditions of Italy, and realize that the host family is doing a lot to house you. Become part of the Italian family: it's nice to have an Italian mamma e babbo."

"As long as you are open, friendly, and considerate with your host family you can do pretty much what you want. The most important thing is to treat your host family like a family, and not a hotel. Take an interest, and be considerate. Call if you're not coming home for dinner."

"Be friendly and outgoing: there are always people hungry for a friend."

"Try to meet some of the younger Italians. They are great. The more you interact with the people of the country the more you learn about the culture."

"Meet as many people as you can (not in your group), from everywhere. Expect to be a little homesick. Don't complain that things are different: try everything. Travel!"

"Don't let them speak English to you: you aren't traveling thousands of miles to improve their English. Try to do as much as you can: study, visit the museums, make the most of your experience."

"If you are in any way dissatisfied with your living or school situation, speak up immediately."

"I recommend that students see as many places as possible. I went to Pisa, L'isola d'Elba, Siena, Ravenna, Naples, Capri, Rome, Venice, San Gimignano, Assisi, Viareggio, and Tivoli. Even after two months I never exhausted the sites of Florence."

"It is a beautiful country full of art, history, and interesting people. I do wish, however, that some of the people had something better to do than to criticize the U.S.; but I can't change that, and I just had to learn to live with it."

"Study hard, but have a great time in the process."

"Study some Italian before you go. Women, be prepared for the Italian male!"

"Speak the language as much as possible. Don't be afraid of the Italian male. It's difficult to meet women -- so often the men are the only ones who will speak to you. . . . Bring clothes that are comfortable and durable because traveling and washing by hand do some damage to your clothes."

"Bring more clothes--its difficult to wash by hand. Also be prepared to dress nicely."

"Take everything slowly--eight weeks is a long time!"

"Pack lightly! Bring a Swiss Army knife--you'll have many opportunities to use it."

"Make sure you bring enough "lunch money," a coke and a sandwich will cost you about 5000 lire. Window shop first, and wait for sales. Travel light! Trust me, you won't regret it!!"

"Bring a lot of money, if possible! It's very expensive in Italy."

"Bring money and go everywhere you can. Don't stay in Florence on the weekends because you can see it during the week--travel!"


Centro Linguistico Italiano Dante Alighieri (CLIDA)
Via dei Bardi, 12
50125 Firenze
(tel. 234-2984)
FAX: 011-39-055-2342766 (access code--country code--city code--FAX number)

Italian Consulates in the United States:

For the States of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands:
Consolato Generale d'Italia
1200 Brickell Avenue
Miami, Florida 33131
telephone: (305) 374-6322

For the States of Arkansas, Texas (except Houston), Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky:
708 Cotton Exchange Building
231 Carondelet Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
telephone: (504) 524-2271

For the States of West Virginia, Virginia (except for Arlington and Fairfax Counties), Maryland (except Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties), Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey (western part):
421 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
telephone: (215) 592-7329

For the States of Maryland (Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties only) and Virginia (Arlington and Fairfax Counties only):
1601 Fuller Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
telephone: (202) 328-5500

For the States of New York, Connecticut, the eastern part of New Jersey, and Bermuda:
690 Park Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10021
telephone: (212) 737-9100

For the States of Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio:
1 Kennedy Square, suite 2305
719 Griswold Street
Detroit, MI 48226
telephone: (313) 963-8560

U.S. Consulate (in Florence)
Lungarno Vespucci, 8
tel. (055) 298-276

U.S. Embassy (in Rome)
Via Veneto, 121
00187 Roma
tel. (06) 46741.

Travel Agencies:

Intertravel in Via de' Lamberti (across from the main post office).
C.I.T. in Via Cavour.
C.I.T. in Piazza dell'Unità across from Santa Maria Novella.
Universalturismo in Via degli Speziali, 7/r; (tel. 21-72-41).
American Express in Piazza Cimatori (tel. 27-87-51)

Student Travel Agencies:

Servizio Turistico Studentesco in Via Zanetti, 18/r (tel. 29-20-88 & 29-20-67)
Centro Turistico Studentesco e Giovanile in Via dei Ginori, 11/r (tel 26-35-70)
CTU Travel in Via S. Gallo, 7r/9r (tel. 21-68-00 & 21-70-19)

Information on Florence (local events, etc.):

Box Office in Via della Pergola (beside Teatro della Pergola) has information on concerts, exhibits, and sports events (ask if you can get a discount with your Dante Alighieri I.D. card).
Hotel Information (inside train station) open all week, 9:00 am to 8:30 pm (tel 28-28-93)
Train Information (inside train station) open all week, 7:00 am to 9:40 pm (tel. 27-87-85)
Azienda Autonoma di Turismo di Firenze in Via Tornabuoni, 15.
Ente Provinciale per il Turismo a Firenze in Via Manzoni, 16 (tel. 24-78-141)

Department Stores:

Upim in Piazza della Reppublica.
Standa in Via Panzani (near Santa Maria Novella).
Standa (with supermarket) in Via Pietrapiana, 42/44.

Markets & Supermarkets:

Mercato Centrale (the biggest "farmer's market" in Florence) behind Piazza San Lorenzo; open until 2:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Standa in Via Pietrapiana, 42/44.
Superal in Via Novoli.
Esselunga (supermarket chain) in Via Milanesi, 32/34; Via Masaccio, 274/276; Via Baracca, 134; Via Pisana, 130/132; Viale De Amicis, 89/B.
Coop (supermarket chain) in Via Salvi Cristiani; Via Madonna delle Querce, 23/r; Via della Robbia, 5/r.

Hospitals and Medical Services:

Ospedale Arcispedale di Santa Maria Nuova (Pronto soccorso)
Piazza Santa Maria Nuova, 1; (tel. 27-581)
Tourist Medical Service (24 hour service in English for incoming calls)
Via Lorenzo il Magnifico, 59
(tel. 47-54-11)

Pharmacies open 24 hours a day:

1. Comunale n. 13 inside the train station, tel. 28-94-35.
2. Molteni in Via Calzaiuoli, 7/r (next to Piazza della Signoria) tel. 26-34-90.
3. Paglicci in Via della Scala, 49.
4. Taverna in Piazza S. Giovanni, 20r (in front of the Baptistery) tel. 21-13-43; it's open until 1:00 am.
They are usually closed during the early morning hours, but if you ring the bell you can speak to the pharmacist. (S)he may suggest, however, that you go to the hospital or that you call a "Guardia Medica" (paramedic) tel. 47-78-91.

Restaurants & Trattorie:

1. Trattoria Gozzi in Piazza San Lorenzo (open only for lunch)
2. I Latini in Via Palchetti, 6 (open for lunch and dinner).
3. Da Zazà in Piazza del Mercato, 26/r (good steaks)
4. Acqua al Due in Via dell'Acqua, 2/r
5. Le Mossacce in Via del Proconsolo, 55/r
6. Porta Venere in the town of Fiesole.

Mensa Universitaria (University Cafeteria) in Via San Gallo, 25a.
There is also one in Via dei Servi, 68/r, but you need a special pass.

Ice Cream Parlors:

Vivoli in Via Isola delle Stinche, 7 (off of Via Ghibellina)
Gelateria Neri in Via dei Neri

Bookstores in Florence:

1. Libreria Marzocco in Via de' Martelli, 22r--26r (the largest bookstore in Florence).
2. Libreria Feltrinelli just a couple of blocks further down: this is Marzocco's greatest competition.
3. Internazionle Seeber in Via dei Tornabuoni, 70/r. This is the only bookstore in town that will give you a discount (10%) if you ask for one.
4. Le Monnier in Via San Gallo, 149/r.
5. Libreria Salimbeni in Via Matteo Palmieri, 14 - 16/r
6. After Dark in Via del Moro, 86r (next to Piazza Santa Maria Novella) sells English and American books and magazines.

Gymnasiums (Palestre):

1. Farfalla in Via Montebello, 36/r (tel. 29-60-40)
2. Gymnasium in Via Palazzuolo, 49/r (tel. 29-33-08)
3. Manfredini in Via Cavour, 106/108 (tel. 58-83-02)
4. My Center 104 in Via dei Bardi, 19 (tel. 234-28-01)
5. Palestra Savasana in Via J. da Diacceto, 26 (tel. 28-73-73)
6. La Palestra in Via La Farina, 50 int. (tel. 247-63-63)

Discos (these two usually give free admission to CLIDA students):

1. Club Andromeda in Via dei Cimatori, 13/r (tel. 29-20-02)
2. Space Electronic in Via Palazzuolo, 37 (tel. 29-50-82)