Preparing to Go: Florence

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Syracuse Florence Program Dates

Syracuse Florence Pre-Departure Webinar (Fall 2019)

Syracuse Florence Center

Syracuse University Florence Center
Piazza Savonarola, 15
50132, Florence, ITALY
To contact Syracuse Florence from the United States: (011-39) 055-50-31-31

Florence Staff Contact Information

Twitter: @SUFlorence ; Instagram: @syracuseflorence ; Facebook: Syracuse University in Florence

Receiving Packages

Send mail directly to the Syracuse Florence Center. DO NOT have mail sent to your host family or apartment address. Shipping regulations are very strict in Italy. Italian Customs taxes could be up to 22% of the value declared on the package plus administrative fees. To avoid having to pay customs taxes, do not declare a value over 20 dollars or insure the package. If you still would like to insure the package or place a value higher than this, note that Customs taxes must be paid before delivery is made. If the option is available, choose “charge to sender”. Please note that declaring a value of ‘0’ is not allowed.

Highly recommend you DO NOT send:

  • Medication or contact lenses. This requires a complicated clearance process and is illegal to do so without an import/export license. DO NOT SEND MEDICINE IN THE MAIL. Instead, fax the prescription to +39 055 5000 531, and the Syracuse Florence Doctor can translate it into Italian.
  • Cell phones, computers, digital cameras, and so on. They are heavily inspected by Italian customs officials, causing long delays and incurring taxes/processing fees and extensive paperwork will need to be filled out.
  • Packages containing food items, vitamins and cosmetics (including shampoo/deodorants). They are heavily inspected by Italian customs officials, causing long delays and incurring taxes/processing fees and extensive paperwork will need to be filled out.
  • A list of items that cannot be sent to Italy can be found on the USPS website.

Mail should be addressed to:

[Your full name] ℅ Syracuse University Florence
Piazza Savonarola, 15
50132, Florence, ITALY

Traveling to Florence

There are two options for travel to Florence. You can choose to participate in a group flight, offered by Advantage Travel, or you may choose to make your own travel arrangements and meet the group upon arrival in Florence. Admitted students receive an email detailing both options.

Group Flights

For all group flights, you will have a group leader accompanying you from the United States to Florence – guiding you through all connections. Once in Italy, you will be met at the airport by a Syracuse Florence staff member and taken by bus to the orientation hotel for introduction activities.

Please note the group leaders will not be on your return flight. You are responsible for getting yourself to the airport in Florence for your return at the end of the semester.

Florence Airport

The Florence airport is small, with a short runway; and in case of bad weather, flights are often rerouted to Milan, Rome, Bologna, or Pisa. This is not a rare occurrence, especially in winter time, and Syracuse Florence staff members are familiar with the process of getting students and their belongings to Florence from other Italian cities.

Sometimes, the smaller planes that fly into the Florence airport cannot take every piece of luggage for every person on the flight, so students’ luggage may arrive in Florence after they do. This is a frequent occurrence. To prepare for this possibility, students can make sure they have all essential medication and a change of clothes packed in their personal travel item (the one that will fit under the seat in front of you on the plane.)

Independent Travel

If traveling independently to Florence for the Spring 2020 semester:

    • You must purchase a flight that arrives by 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 14. Orientation begins on this day and is mandatory for all students. Your return flight should depart Florence on the program end date.
    • You will receive an independent travel memo containing details on how to meet with the group upon arriving in Florence.
    • The orientation hotel is located in a town about 45 minutes outside of Florence. As a courtesy, a shuttle service will be organized at the Syracuse Florence campus during regular office hours. Students arriving on campus within this time frame (from 9am and no later than 5:30pm) will be able to utilize the shuttle service to arrive at the orientation hotel. If students arrive after this time or experience delays, regardless of reason, it will be necessary to plan for an alternate method of travel via bus or train. It is highly recommended that independent travelers familiarize themselves with the alternate transportation schedules sent in the travel memo prior to their departure, as public service is limited in the evening hours. This will ensure the students are well prepared and able to reach the orientation hotel in the event of a delay.
    • You will need to take a taxi from the airport to campus to board the organized shuttles. Taxis can be found outside the airport and will go directly to campus for an approximate rate of €25-30 (cash) and direct to the orientation hotel will cost about 120 Euro.
    • Try posting a request on the Florence Spring 2020 Facebook Group – if there is another Syracuse Florence-bound student on your flight, you could meet up and split the cost of the taxi.
    • By law, the Permit of Stay must be completed within 8 days of arriving in Italy. Therefore, you should NOT arrive in Italy more than a week before the start of your program or else you will need to complete the Permit of Stay on your own, purchase your own emergency health insurance, and pay for all associated costs up front. Newly arriving students will complete Permit of Stay applications during orientation together as part of your program.
    • If you are an independent traveler arriving in Italy prior to the program start date, it is recommended you come to campus on the morning of arrival day and plan to take the first shuttle to the orientation hotel.


Pack clothing and belongings for the semester in your large checked bag. If you are on the group flight, checked bags will be taken directly from the Florence airport to the Syracuse Florence Center. If you are traveling independently, take all of your bags to campus, where Syracuse Florence staff will store your large bag prior to boarding the shuttle. If you experience delays, take your bags with you directly to the orientation hotel.  Your luggage will be returned to you when you move to your housing. For orientation, pack your smaller bag with essentials for overnight in the orientation hotel: electronics, specific travel-sized toiletries, appropriate clothing, etc.

Note that students are not allowed to store their luggage at Syracuse Florence facilities before the start of or at the end of the semester. If you plan to travel at the end of the semester, you must take your luggage with you.

Orientation Period

Orientation begins the day you arrive in Florence, lasts three weeks, and is mandatory for everyone. You will spend your first night in a hotel and receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner. During orientation, you will meet the staff at the center, familiarize yourself with the campus and city, and connect with other students on the program. Specifically, on the second day of orientation, you will be assigned housing and move into your host family’s home or your apartment with your roommates. On the fourth day of orientation you will complete Step 2 of your Permit to Stay (Permesso di Soggiorno) application process. Do not make any travel plans the first weekend in Florence, as this is considered Full Immersion Weekend for students in Homestays.

What you will need for orientation:

  • €30 for your Syracuse Florence deposit. This pays for your electronic key card to allow you access to the Syracuse Florence facilities (conditionally returned at the end of the semester)
  • €20 for your All School Field Trips deposit. (conditionally returned at the end of the semester)
  • Two (2) copies of your passport ID page
  • Two (2) copies of the visa in your passport
  • The original stamped letter of enrollment to the Consulate if you did not submit a visa application through Syracuse Abroad
  • Must begin the Permit of Stay process (Step 1) prior to arrival, but after you have received your visa, by filling out an online registration form (have your passport in hand to complete it)

Living in Florence

Housing Placement

Students are assigned housing based upon their registered program and the information provided in the housing request form. It is very important to submit housing requests in a timely and detailed manner, communicating health-related restrictions as early as possible. Most Syracuse Florence students are placed in private homes with host families while most architecture students are placed in apartments. Studio arts students may also be placed in apartments if space is available.

Students in programs with apartment placements may request to live with a host family, but these requests will be considered on a space-available basis only.

Students arriving in Florence before the start of orientation are responsible for finding and paying for their own accommodations. It is not possible to move into Syracuse housing placements early.

The best way to prepare for life in Florence is to educate yourself on the Italian lifestyle and customs. In addition, orientation at the center will provide you with rules and guidelines prepared by the Housing Office.

If you have a concern regarding your living situation, work with the Housing Office to find a resolution. Keep in mind that many initial concerns are usually a product of “culture shock” and diminish or disappear after a short period of adjustment.


Syracuse University considers the homestay an integral component of the Florence program. As in most modern cities, Italian hosts can be extended families, single professionals, or older couples. All families, however, are immersed in and representative of contemporary Italian culture. Most families have been hosting Syracuse students for many years.

Families are located within a 35-minute commute to campus (by bus or walking) and can accommodate a maximum of two students per household. NOTE: distance to the city center may be longer and students should plan to use public transportation. If you wish to room with someone specific, both you and your roommate must indicate this on your housing request form. Single placements are available (but are limited). It is also possible to request a specific host family and to list alternates on your housing form. All requests are reviewed, but none are guaranteed. In general, medically documented or Office of Disability Services cases have priority, followed by personal requests handled on a first-come, first-served basis according to the date the housing form was submitted. Note that information regarding placement will not be communicated to students, in any form or for any reason, prior to arrival in Florence.

Host families will provide 12 meals weekly. (Breakfast Monday through Sunday, dinner Monday through Friday.) Use of kitchen is not permitted. You will need to budget additional funds to cover the rest of your meals.

In the past, students have offered a small gift to their host family when they are introduced during orientation. Some students bring a small gift representative of their hometown while many others will buy chocolates or flowers in Florence. There are several shops near campus where you can pick these up.

It is very important to note that students are responsible for all housing and meals during the mid-semester break. If you do not plan on traveling and will be staying in Florence, it will be necessary to notify the Syracuse Florence Housing Office in advance.

The day of the program end date, students are expected to leave their homestays by 12:00 p.m. (noon). If students wish or need to stay longer, they cannot do so with their host family but can inquire in the housing office as to various options available to them.


This option is for architecture (by default) and studio arts (if space is available) students only. Students are placed in apartments in groups of three to six. Syracuse Florence will pay the landlord directly for rent and utilities, but you are responsible for any final cleaning charges. During orientation, you and your roommates will meet with the Florence Housing Office and sign your lease contract and take care of your security deposit and liability insurance. All apartments are fully furnished and include kitchenware, linens, etc. Detailed information about Florence apartments is available here.

All students living in Syracuse Florence apartments will be given an allowance of €1,350 for the semester. €1,210 of that allowance will be distributed in two sums – €600 at the beginning of the semester and €610 after the mid-semester break. The remainder of the stipend will be used as a €100 (damage) deposit and a €40 cleaning fee at the end of the semester. If you keep your apartment in good order and there are no damages, you will receive the €100 back at the end of the semester. This process will be fully explained to you during the first week of orientation.

Gyms/Workout Facilities

There are several gyms near the center in Florence that students have joined in the past. The Syracuse Florence Student Life Office has a list of recommendations that they can give you. At any gym, be sure to let them know that you are a student at Syracuse University Florence and always ask if there is a student discount.

  • Gym memberships will be higher than what you are used to in the U.S. and usually require you to purchase a membership card as well (€5-10).
  • By law, in order for you to join a gym, you will have to take a medical exam and obtain a medical certificate, which can only come from a sports physician in Italy. The Syracuse Florence campus doctor can help you make an appointment with a sports physician when you arrive. This will be an out of pocket expense (around €40).


Students will use public transportation to and from their homes as locals do. Commuting distances vary, and few housing placements are in the historic center. Most students live within a 35-minute commute to the Syracuse Florence Center either by bus, foot, or a combination of the two. To accommodate public transport, all students in SU housing are eligible for reimbursement of two monthly ATAF bus passes. Students will receive detailed information during orientation. In Florence, buses stop running at midnight or 1:00 a.m. depending on the neighborhood. If you plan on being out late in the evening, budget extra funds for a taxi fare.

Field Study

There are over 30 different field trips offered every semester at the Syracuse Florence Center. Some of these are mandatory class trips, whose expenses are covered by the corresponding course fees.

All school field trips are funded by your program fee. Each student can sign-up to attend up to four of the all-school day trips, one overnight trip, and one Insider’s Florence trip, space permitting. You will learn how to take advantage of these travel opportunities and about the sign-up process during the first week of orientation in Florence. Architecture program students have a program-specific set of field trips that take the place of all-school offerings.

Do not make personal travel plans until you get to Florence and you have your academic schedule set, so that you know which trips you are expected to attend and which trips you would like to attend.

Technology Information

The Syracuse Florence campus has wireless Internet access in all buildings and in the main garden. Connect to the AirOrangeX network using your NetID and password for any portable device.

The Villa Rossa has three computer labs equipped with PCs and printer access. Anyone can log in using their NetID and password. Syracuse students will see the same desktop and personal network drive that is available on main campus. The computer lab is open early in the morning until evening and is also open on Sundays. Hours will be posted in the Villa Rossa.

One of the computer labs is designated as a “Skype Room” with monitors that have web cams. The monitors have a microphone, but you are responsible for providing your own headphones.

You must ensure that your laptop will work on a 220/240 volt, 50-cycle current (most chargers and power supplies automatically adjust to the voltage). If your device only works on a 110/120-volt, 60-cycle current, you will need a converter/step down transformer. These are available at most electronic stores in the US. Even if your device will work on the European voltage, you will need a special plug adapter to fit the Italian power outlets. These are also available at most electronic stores in the US as well as in Florence.

Cell Phones

All students are expected to have an active cell phone that can make and receive calls without having access to WiFi throughout the duration of the program for safety and security reasons. Most students choose to use an Italian prepaid cellular plan over using their home country international plan.

The first option is to purchase a cellphone upon arrival in Italy. This will have an upfront cost plus the monthly plan, though many times the phone can be sold back to the provider at the end of the semester for a portion of the original cost.

The second option is to use your current cell phone with an Italian SIM card. If your current phone is locked to a US service provider, many will allow you to unlock it for travel purposes. This will allow you to buy a SIM card for it in Florence and use it as a prepaid cellular phone. It is best to check with your provider before leaving the US for this option. You will also need to make sure your phone is a “Global” phone compatible with the GSM networks in Italy.

Using an Italian cell phone number is an easy and cost-effective way to call and text other students on the program. Family can also contact you via your Italian phone number – they can call you at no cost to you. Another benefit of having an Italian cell number is that you have access to WiFi in public places that require registration via text (such as piazzas).

While the use of an Italian cell phone or SIM card is encouraged for the duration of the program, we still recommend that you bring your US cell phone for use during your transatlantic travel dates. This will help you if there are any delays or flight changes and you need to contact your family and/or the Syracuse Florence Center or Syracuse Abroad.

Italian Insurance Requirement

The Italian Government mandates that all Italian temporary foreign residents purchase Italian National Health Insurance. Because you will become a temporary resident of Italy, you are required to do so as well. This insurance DOES NOT replace your primary insurance.

The cost of Italian insurance is included in the Syracuse Abroad program fee so students will not need to pay for it out-of-pocket in Florence. Because this is a mandate established by Italian law, Syracuse Abroad does not have the ability to alter or waive this requirement. Syracuse Florence staff will purchase the insurance on your behalf before your arrival. For this reason it is imperative that you upload all required post-acceptance documents to your application.

Financial Information

Syracuse Florence Program Cost

Signature Seminar (Optional)

The Florence Signature Seminar is a credit-bearing seminar that students may opt into by paying an additional program fee. The Signature Seminar fee will include all seminar travel, entrance fees to all seminar sites, prepared seminar materials, accommodation with breakfast each morning, and at least three dinners. Other meals are your responsibility.

Personal Expenses and Travel Budgeting

You should make a budget plan that guides you in handling your money. Syracuse students, we recommend making an appointment with a Smart Money Coach in the Office of Financial Aid. Money needed per semester varies on student preferences and personal spending habits. In determining your potential personal expenses for the semester, here are some examples of everyday expenses in Florence:

  • Single bus ticket: €1,50
  • Panino: €4,00
  • Plate of pasta at restaurant: €7-10
  • Train ticket to Rome: €44 one-way on the fast train


You will find that you generally use cash more frequently in Italy than in the United States. Your ATM card is the best way to get cash in Italy. ATMs are widely accessible, but check with your bank to ensure your card can be used in foreign countries. Also be sure to ask about your bank’s service fees for international transactions as well as ATM fees.

Please do not bring large sums of cash with you since Italian banks will not exchange dollars and exchange windows charge large fees. Syracuse Florence recommends that you arrive with approximately €100 (about $115) in cash from your home bank and make future cash withdrawals at ATMs in Italy.

Transferring Funds

If parents or family members need to send you money during the semester, they can deposit money into a US bank account accessible through ATMs, which are available throughout Italy and Europe. Money can also be wired to a Western Union location. For complete advice on transferring money overseas, check with your bank before you leave.

Credit Cards

It is a good idea to have a credit card in your name. It is not essential, but can come in handy in an emergency. Prior to coming to Italy, contact your credit card provider to make sure your card can be used in foreign countries and that you have a 4-digit PIN. Again, you should inquire about any international service fees they may charge and let them know how long you will be overseas. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted all over Europe, while most businesses in Europe do not accept American Express.

Academic Information

Enrollment Policies

Online course registration occurs prior to departure — dates will be sent to you in your academic packet. Due to Italian immigration requirements, you may not drop below 12 credits (not counting any Signature Seminar credits) at any point during the semester. The typical course load is about 15 credits. The maximum enrollment is 19 credits, including the Signature Seminar.

Undergraduates are required to take an Italian course for credit. Most students at the beginning or intermediate levels will take six credits: a 4-credit core course plus a 2-credit co-requisite community and culture course that connects you with the local community through activities both in and out of the classroom. If you have already completed four semesters of college-level Italian, you are eligible to take ITA 325 and 421.

Architecture, studio arts, engineering, and design students at the beginning or intermediate language levels have the option of taking Italian language for the first half of the semester only, earning 3 credits. These special program students at the introductory level also have the option of taking Italian language twice a week for the full semester. If you select either 3-credit option, you should not expect to continue Italian language study on the Syracuse University main campus without repeating some coursework.

Any student may request to take a studio arts class, though priority is given to students enrolled in the studio arts program and studio art majors and minors. Students wishing to apply for intermediate and advanced level courses should be prepared to demonstrate their ability to succeed in the class they wish to take through samples of work or evidence of prior course work. Samples of work will be reviewed during orientation abroad. Enrollment in all classes, including studio arts, is confirmed after arrival in Italy.

Some courses may not be audited. These include required Italian language courses, courses offered at Florence universities, studio arts courses, and any optional Signature Seminar. Students enrolled in a graduate degree program may audit Italian language.

University of Florence Grades: Final grades for courses taken at the local university in Florence may not be received and posted to SU’s student records system until late December for the fall semester and early July for the spring semester.

Course Supplies and Equipment


Each student is provided with a drafting table, a cutting mat, a stool, and a lamp in the studio. Small lockers and locks are provided at the school with a refundable 10 Euro deposit, but there are no drawers or storage cabinets on the drafting tables. The studios are also equipped with hot-wire cutters.

Students are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop computer with modeling, drawing, rendering, and graphic software installed. We also recommend a compact external drive so you can regularly back up your work. There are a limited number of computers at the School of Architecture with necessary design software installed. Scanning and printing (A4 and A3 size) is available in the architecture building, but not larger size plotting. All plotting must be done through outside commercial services. Students may also consider bringing a camera and lenses to document their travel.

Most essential supplies and materials for architecture courses can be purchased in Italy upon arrival. Students might consider bringing the following items, which are common in art-supply stores in the US, but are not available in Italy:

-Rolls of 12” trace-paper

-X-Acto knife and blades (other comparable cutters are available, just not X-Acto brand)

Studio Arts

Digital Photography

The course fee for each photography course covers all materials that you will need for the course. This includes: high photo quality paper for prints (A4, A3, A2), inks for ink jet printers and plotter, entry fees to museums and galleries, local public transportation to the sites. It is not necessary to purchase any other materials.

APH 264, APH 243, APH 340: Students must bring a digital camera and capable memory card 16 or 32 GB. You will receive an 8 GB USB flash drive at orientation, but you may want to bring another flash drive or external hard drive to back up your files and transfer large files from your computer.


Introductory (sketchbook), Intermediate, Advanced, and Drawing Research: All materials that you will need for drawing research are covered in the studio fee. This includes pencils, charcoal, pastels, eraser, ink, ink pens, and all additional material for special projects. It also includes field trips and visits to museums and shows.


The course fee for each painting course covers all of the materials that you will need for the course. This includes: oil paints, brushes, palette knife, palette paper, canvasses, gesso, stretcher bars, paper, linseed oil, turpentine, glazing mediums, photocopies, general studio supplies, and site visits to museums and galleries.

New Approaches to Renaissance Painting Techniques: The course fee covers wood supports, canvases, grounds, watercolors, pigments, glues, brushes, gesso, paper, drawing tools, gliding tools, gold and silver leaf, bole for gliding, mordent, lime putty and sand, as well as a site visit to the Fortezza Restoration Lab. It is not necessary to purchase any other materials.


The course fee covers a personal tool kit (files, sandpaper, drill bits, saw, saw blades, dust mask, tweezers, metal ruler, buffing tools), a set amount of material (silver, brass, copper), chemicals, silver solder, buffing compound, and studio equipment and maintenance. For brass and copper metals there is no limit. Silver is allotted for about one main project. For large or specialized projects, you may need to purchase additional materials. Other course supply requirements are listed below:

  • A round or oval stone for the stone setting project
  • Regular notebook with graphic paper
  • Drawing pencils (2H and 2B will suffice)
  • Good eraser
  • Pencil sharpener
  • X-Acto knife
  • Economical watercolor brush

The course fee covers screens, transfer materials, all chemicals, acetate and tracing paper, inks, squeegees, brushes, and white test fabric and paper. Other required supplies include:

  • China ink pen
  • New brushes (if desired)
  • Extra specialty fabrics for advanced projects

All materials that you will need for Intro Intaglio are covered in the studio fee. These include zinc plates, Plexiglas plates, printmaking paper, printing inks, soft ground, hard ground, dry point needles, scrapers, burnishers, and sanding files.


The course fee covers all materials needed for the course; no additional costs are applied or necessary: assorted clay, clay tools, ceramic glazes, brushes, assorted plaster, plaster tool, assorted glues, sand paper, wood files, drill bits, paper, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, pastels, entrances to museums and art shows.