Preparing to Go: Florence


Syracuse Florence Program Dates

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

Page Contents

Mail & Packages

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, IF the medication is available in Italy. It is advisable to try to bring enough of your prescription medications for the semester and check prior to departure if your medications are available in Italy. NOTE: Prescriptions for medications used to treat ADD/ADHD (such as Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta cannot be prescribed to foreigners in Italy; please make sure you bring enough for your time abroad or make plans to have someone who will be visiting you bring it with them to you..
  • 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

You will be informed by your Syracuse Abroad advisor of the date and time by which you must arrive in Florence for mandatory orientation. You will receive a travel memo containing details on how to meet with the group upon arriving in Florence.

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).


Pack clothing and belongings for the semester in your large checked bag. Make sure you have all essential medication and a change of clothes packed in your personal travel item (the one that will fit under the seat in front of you on the plane.)

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.

Orientation Period

Mandatory orientation begins online prior to your arrival in Florence and continues after you arrive. 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. You will be assigned housing and move into your host family’s home or your apartment with your roommates.. 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

Additionally, for students whose citizenship dictates they will need a visa for an Italian study program with a duration of under 90 days (does not apply to US students):

  • Two (2) copies of the visa in your passport

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 for 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 a combination of walking and public transportation to and from their homes as locals do. Commuting distances vary, and few housing placements are in the historic city 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 partial reimbursement of the monthly ATAF bus pass(es). 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 20 different field trips offered every semester at the Syracuse Florence Center. Some study tours are required for courses and are paid through corresponding course fees.

All-school field trips are funded by your program fee. 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 course-related study tours you are required 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

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 at any point during the semester. The typical course load is about 15 credits. The maximum enrollment is 19 credits.

Undergraduates are required to take an Italian course for credit. Students at the beginning or intermediate levels will take a 4-credit course. If you have already completed four semesters of college-level Italian, you are eligible to take ITA 325 and 421 (each carries 3 credits).

Any student may request to take a studio arts class, though priority is given to students enrolled in the studio arts program. 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, and studio arts courses. 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.