Bring Bug Spray and an Empty Stomach

In Florence, The Art of Travel, 14. Tips by Dani Kimball1 Comment

So you want to study abroad in Florence, eh? Well…do it!

NYU Florence has a lot to offer, especially with NYU having an entire villa… After spending the last four months here, I can confidently say that I know a least a little about this beautiful city.

First things first, let me let you in on a little secret that no one ever talks about when mentioning the beautiful, grandeur city of Florence, Italy: mosquitoes. I can’t remember the last time in my life when I have had to endure the wrath of mosquitoes like I have while here in Florence. From the first semester in August aaaaaaall the way to my last two weeks here in December I have been fighting off these tiny horrors, left and right. They’re in my classrooms, my bedroom, the cafes. You cannot escape them. If you are planning to come to Florence, please plan for mosquitoes. Once you’re here, buy mosquito spray (sure it’s liquid poison for your skin, but, hey, the other choice is to be eaten alive). Buy cortisone cream because you WILL be bit, it’s inevitable. Wear high songs, long sleeves, chainmail. Whatever you need to do protect yourself from these pointless insects, do it. They are merciless.

Besides the bugs, living in Florence is a beautiful opportunity. I’ve lived on Via Ricasoli 49 during my time here and would definitely recommend this location. The majority of NYU housing is on this street, which is a fantastic location. But Ricasoli 49 isn’t your typical dorm. Instead, it’s an actual hotel that NYU has rented for the semester. There are often other guests staying in the apartment-style rooms for rent, which makes for interesting conversations in the hallways. The rooms only hold 2 students, whether it be in a double room or two singles — rather than 12 students living on one floor. It’s a lovely place, run by a hilarious landlady and her old black cat. It’s a great central location, close to the bus and in city center. It really doesn’t get any better than Ricasoli 49.

Food. Take a cooking class while you’re here! I took two during my semester and it was the best thing I did. Now I can make fresh pasta, pesto, bruschetta, tiramisu and more for my friends and family.

In my opinion, the best gelato is La Strega Nocciola on Via Ricasoli. Their chocolate gelato is so creamy and rich that it made me, someone who once only tolerated chocolate ice cream, into a believer. They also have an incredible lavender flavor and blood orange. They also have a student discount and hefty scoops (depending on who is working the counter that day).

My favorite panini has to be from Sandwichic on Via S. Gallo. After you go there a few times the workers remember you and have always helped me to improve my italian. My two favorite paninis are both on toasted focaccia, one had sbriciolona (a florentine salame), melted pecorino, and a red bell pepper spread, and the other has the same meat and cheese but instead of bell pepper it has a cinnamon pear spread. They are both beyond delicious and for 3.50 or 4 euros, students can get any sandwich off the students menu along with water, wine, or coffee! What could be better?

If you want the best Tuscan white beans, Osteria Cinghiale Bianco is the place to go. It’s across the Arno river and has been in business for years. It’s a small little restaurant but if you can get a reservation it’s worth it for the side of white beans alone. They are unlike anything I’ve ever had.

You can find great food of all different price points all over the city which is a huge plus for any students interested in studying here.

Also just a head up for NYU New York students, you can’t hail a taxi here. If you try, people will laugh and the taxi will just whiz by. Instead, you either have to call them on your cell and order a cab, or wait in a taxi line at designated signs. That was a weird thing to get used to…

Overall, Florence has been a wonderful experience. I so happy I gave it a go for my last semester of college. It’s given me opportunities I never would have had had I gone to a different location. While I’ll miss the city and the food, I’m excited to return home and share my experiences with my friends and family. I especially can’t wait to show off my new pasta making skills!


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(Image: NYU Florence At Sunset; Source: Dani Kimball)


  1. Hi Dani! What drew me to your post was the mosquitoes and food. I hate mosquitoes so I wanted to see your tell about it. I’m surprised there are still mosquitoes there even though it’s almost winter. That’s horrible! Actually, there are still mosquitoes in Shanghai, too! Every so often they would sneak into my dorm, and I’ll try to kill them before I got to bed, otherwise I might risk losing both blood and sleep during the night. I love your motivation for food, I love food myself. If I ever go to Florence, I’ll make sure to go to a cooking class and try out some of the things you mentioned here!

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