Preparing to Go: Discovery Florence

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

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

Page Contents

Mail & Packages

Receiving Packages

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.

DO NOT send:

  • DO NOT SEND MEDICINE OR CONTACT LENSES IN THE MAIL. This requires a complicated clearance process and is illegal to do so without an import/export license. As an alternative, have your doctor email you the prescription, and the Syracuse Florence Center 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. This can be done by contacting ISOS or asking the Assistant Director of Student Services ( at Syracuse Abroad for guidance. 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 other electronic items. 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.

All student mail, regardless of housing assignment, should be addressed to:

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

Traveling to Florence

Flight Information

All Discovery Florence students are asked to purchase a flight according to these guidelines:

  • Arrive in Florence (Florence Peretola Airport) on Wednesday, September 4 by 2:00 p.m. local Italian time. No exceptions. If you have any questions, please contact your International Program Advisor (  
  • Depart Florence on Thursday, December 19, which is the last day of the program. Housing check-out is by noon. 

Do not plan personal travel until after you arrive in Florence and learn about any required class-related tours, all-program trips, make-up classes, exam periods, and other academic commitments.

Student Email

All Syracuse University communications will be sent to your email, so it is imperative that you check this daily. We expect you to read and respond to emails promptly- it is our first mode of contact in an emergency. We cannot guarantee forwarding delivery to other email providers.

Note that Syracuse University uses two-factor authentication for Blackboard, email and other resources. Before you travel, you should install and configure the Microsoft Authenticator smartphone app to be your primary mode of authentication instead of SMS. Otherwise, if you change your phone number in Florence you will not be able to receive SMS authentication codes to access your email, Blackboard and other resources. The app is independent of the phone number and does not even require a cellular signal. View this Answers page for more information on how to set up the mobile app.   

Failure to receive and read communications sent to your Syracuse University email address does not absolve you from knowing and complying with the content of them.

Florence Airport

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


Do not pack valuables in your checked suitcases. 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, please make sure to store your passport, any additional travel documents, money, medication, laptop, a change of clothes, and other important items in your personal travel item (the one that will fit under the seat in front of you on the plane). 

Check with your airline about specific luggage requirements, including carry-on restrictions.

Note that students are not permitted to store their luggage at Syracuse Florence facilities before the start of or at the end of the semester. You may contact us for a list of luggage storage options. 

COVID-19 Procedures

As of now in case of a positive swab:

In case of a positive swab:

  • Contact Andressa Bavaresco – who will provide additional information and serve as the main point of contact
  • Stay in the designated isolation location indicated by Syracuse Florence until negative swab. Those who need to see a healthcare provider can contact Andressa Bavaresco –
  • Lessons can be attended as normal, wearing an FFP2 mask. If students do not attend classes, they will be expected to catch up with lesson content as per any other illness-related absence.
  • Students may also contact Assistant Director for Students’ Academic Success, Rachael Smith –  to determine the best pathway to meet academic needs.


All students (except those carrying a valid EU passport) must apply for an Italian student visa.  Our Syracuse Florence Team (, will provide detailed instructions for those applying through group submissions and independently.

Pre-Arrival and Orientation Program

Syracuse Abroad Orientation (Thursday, July 11): Syracuse Abroad will host a mandatory one-hour virtual predeparture orientation during the summer for all students participating in the Discovery program.  Parents and guardians are also welcomed to join.  An invitation with registration link will be sent approximately two weeks before the event. 

Syracuse Florence Center Discovery Meeting: There will be a virtual Discovery meeting in July with our Discovery team member in Florence, Andressa Bavaresco. This meeting will give you the chance to meet Andressa and ask her any questions you may have.

Syracuse Florence Center Pre-Arrival Orientation (Wednesday and Thursday August 28 and 29): Students are required to complete an online pre-arrival program organized by our staff in Florence. Live zoom meetings will be held on August 28 and 29, before the program begins, while materials to be reviewed will be available in the Syracuse Florence Program Organization on Blackboard starting at the end of July. Participation and completion of the online portion of orientation is also a component of student coursework and their grade. 

Syracuse Florence Center In-Person Orientation (Wednesday Sept 4 to Sunday Sept 8, Friday September 13): All students are required to attend an in-person orientation on the day of and following arrival to meet the local staff, become familiar with the campus and city, and connect with other classmates on the program. Students are also required to participate in Homestay Full Immersion Weekend on the Saturday evening and all Sunday following arrivals. As part of the CAS Mapping Italy Course, students must attend a seminar meeting on Friday, September 13 (morning only).

Living in Florence

One of the results of the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine is that the expected flow of natural gas, used as a heating source for much of Europe, has been disrupted and dramatically increased in cost.  European governments have responded with varying degrees of restrictions on temperature settings, hours of operation, and duration of heat each day for this winter.  Cost, of course, has also increased substantially and is a leading cause of inflation in Europe.  As a result, you will notice an increased cost for many goods and services, and you will certainly notice that it will be much colder in homes and business.  Please bring extra warm clothes that you can layer and so adapt to colder than expected indoor temperatures.  We will keep you updated as we get closer to departure with the specific restrictions you can expect.

Housing Placement

All Discovery students are required to live with an Italian host family.

The best way to prepare for life in Florence is to educate yourself on the Italian lifestyle and customs. A fun way of doing this may be following accounts such as @kacierose_ on Instagram, @kacierose4 on TikTok (both are not affiliated with Syracuse University). In addition, orientation at the center will provide you with guidelines prepared by the Syracuse Florence Student Life and Housing Offices. You can also learn more about Florence on the Official Tourism Website for Florence.

Gyms/Workout Facilities

There are several gyms near the Syracuse Florence Center that students have joined in the past. The Syracuse Florence Student Life Office has a list of recommendations that will be posted to the Blackboard Organization prior to your arrival in Florence. 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. This will be an out-of-pocket expense (between €45-70 depending on the type of certificate required by the gym). The Student Life staff at Syracuse Florence has contact information for the sports doctors, so feel free to reach out to them for assistance.
  • Be prepared to follow the specified health regulations when at the gym.

NOTE: Gym availability is subject to Covid-19 conditions.


Closer to departure, all Florence students will receive a 24/7 phone number for local Florence staff to use in case of emergency.  This number is only for students to use.  

Parents with questions or concerns should contact the Syracuse Abroad office in Syracuse, NY.  During regular business office hours, the number is 315.443.3471.  In the evenings and on weekends, call Syracuse University Department of Public Safety: 315.443.2224.  You may also write to our general email at which is monitored during regular business hours. 

It is a good idea for you to talk to your parents now and to set a time aside each week when you are going to check in with each other, so parents do not worry unnecessarily if they haven’t heard from you.  You may find it harder to talk as frequently as you do right now with the time difference.  Look into different ways of communicating with each other: there are many free apps for texting and calling with WiFi, Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber.  Try to balance your time abroad and communication with friends and family back home, so you don’t miss out on opportunities that exist only while you are studying abroad! 

Upon arrival, don’t forget to send a quick e- mail, text message, or social media post to notify your family you have arrived and that you are safe. This will help ease family anxieties. 


Students may use a combination of walking and public transportation in Florence. When using public transportation, passengers may be required to wear masks. Typically in Florence, buses stop running at midnight or 1:00 a.m. depending on the neighborhood. During the pre-arrival program orientation, students will be provided detailed information about where to find available apps, transportation schedules, and real time updates. In general however, if you plan on being out late in the evening, budget extra funds for a taxi fare.

Students are eligible for reimbursement for monthly bus passes (up to  110 euro).

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 two computer labs in the basement. One is equipped with Windows computers an A3/A4 size color printer and an A4 size monochrome printer. Available software includes Microsoft Office 365, Adobe Acrobat Pro and Google Chrome. Anyone can log in using their SU NetID and password. We use SU home campus resources; SU students will see the same Desktop and personal network drive that is available on the home campus as well as the PaperCut Print management system. The computer lab hours will be the same as the Library and will be posted on the SU Florence website and in the Villa Rossa. The second computer lab is designated as a “Laptop Room” with workspace, WiFi and power outlets. There is also a private Video Chat Room with a PC in the Villino which can be reserved for job interviews and academics-related video calls.

The Villino Library reading rooms have WiFi and tables with power outlets for laptops. The Library Print Room 10 has a PC and a color A4 printer on the SU PaperCut system. Print jobs can be sent via email or by logging into a network computer; instructions will be sent during Orientation.

You must ensure that your electronic/electric devices will work on a 220/240 volt, 50-cycle current (most recent chargers and power supplies automatically adjust). 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

Please ensure that before you leave the U.S. you have installed and set up the Microsoft Authenticator app as your primary mode of two-factor authentication on your smartphone. This will ensure that you will not be blocked from accessing email, MySlice, Blackboard, etc. Visit Answers for more information.

All students are expected to have an active cell phone that can make and receive cellular calls without 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.

This will allow you to use your current cell phone with an Italian SIM card. If your current phone is locked to a U.S. 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 U.S. for this option. You will also need to make sure your phone is a “Global” phone compatible with the GSM networks in Italy. Most Italian providers have E-SIMS available as well.

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).

The week prior to your arrival in Florence, Syracuse Florence staff will provide a list of current cellular offers from the English-speaking cellular companies in Florence.

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 U.S. 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.

Financial Information

View Costs: Discovery Florence Program Cost

Personal Expenses and Travel Budgeting

You should make a budget plan that guides you in handling your money. 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 90-minute bus ticket: €1,70
  • Taxi fare within the city: €10-20
  • Panino: €6,00
  • Plate of pasta at restaurant: €8-12
  • Train ticket to Rome: €55 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 non-euro cash with you since Italian banks will not exchange dollars and exchange windows charge large fees. Syracuse Florence recommends that you arrive with approximately €150 (about $175) 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 U.S. 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 or 5-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 or Discovery. You will need to have a pin number for your credit card(s).

ApplePay and GooglePay as payment is not as common as it is in the U.S. but generally any business that has a contactless card reader for use with debit/credit cards also allows payments via these apps.  

In Italy, euro cash is used more widely than credit/debit cards and apps. You should try to carry 3-5 euro in coins so that when you go to purchase a cappuccino or coffee you pay only the actual price of the coffee (around 1,20-1,50 euro). Using anything other than cash could double the cost of your coffee to make up for the fees associated with using a credit/debit card.  

Academic Information

The Discovery Florence program fulfills the same curricular requirements as those pursued by first-year students studying on Syracuse University’s main campus, while providing a course schedule unique to the Florence experience.

Online course registration occurs prior to departure. Our Florence Academics team will send information to you regarding your course registration process. Due to Italian immigration requirements, undergraduates may not drop below full-time (minimum of 12 credits) at any point during the semester. The typical course load is 15-17 credits. SU undergraduate tuition covers up to 19 credits.

Discovery students are required to take an Italian course for credit. Students at the beginning or intermediate levels will take a 4-credit course.

Discovery students are also required to take a one credit Mapping in Italy course. This course will engage you in guided conversations, experiential activities, and written assignments about transitioning to your semester abroad,  exploring your identity as you situate yourself in a new context,

You can view Discovery course information on our Discovery Florence Courses page.