Michelangelo was pretty much the Michael Jordan of his time.
Both were the best that had ever been, both were superstars of their day and both could dunk from the free-throw line. Well, maybe Michelangelo couldn’t do that last one, but we’ll never know for sure.
But there’s one thing Michelangelo had that Jordan didn’t, and that’s the city of Florence. It was his hometown (he’s from just outside the city) and the place that sparked his passion for art and language.
It’s not difficult to see why.
Even today, Florence captures the hearts and minds of all who walk its marble alleys. Being inside the city is like wandering through a Renaissance masterpiece, and studying Italian in Florence opens the mind up to the energies of centuries of geniuses that have called it their home. A little Chianti helps as well.
Whether you want to sculpt your language skills into an Italian capolavoro (masterpiece) or just pick up a few words while on holiday, we’ll tell you how to make the most of your time in Italy’s city of art.
Study Italian or Sightsee in Florence? Get the Best of Both Worlds
When it comes to boosting your Italian skills while enjoying a dream holiday, you can’t do much better than Florence.
Is it the best place to immerse yourself in the full-on, hardcore Italian experience? No, probably not. But for those who aren’t looking for an intensive experience, or for those who may only have a week or two a year for vacation, Studying Italian in Florence is the ideal choice. Here are a few reasons why:
- Plenty of language schools: Florence is full of great Italian schools that offer a wide range of courses. Most allow you choose your own intensity or get private lessons, so you’ll have all the free time you need. Schools also organize tours, excursions and cultural lessons based around food, art, music and more. Check out our top picks in the next section.
- Florence is well connected: Florence is the central hub of tourism and commerce in Italy. Because of this, it’s very easy to travel from Florence to other parts of Italy. Italy’s high-speed trains make for great day trips, and from Florence, you can reach cities like Rome, Venice or Milan in just a few hours.
- An explosion of culture: Florence is overloaded with Italian art, culture, food, wine, music and much more. In your free time, visit the Uffizi art museum, catch a classical music performance in the Basilica di San Marco or savor the local flavors which include papardelle pasta and the famous lampredotto, a sandwich made with beef stomach!
- The chance to speak with real Italians: There are a lot of tourists in Florence, but the locals still appreciate it when you speak Italian. You’ll be able to take what you learn in your lessons and apply it in the real world immediately. There’s no better way to learn than through immersion!
5 Best Language Schools to Study Italian in Florence
As we mentioned above, there are plenty of places to study Italian in Florence. Having more choices is a good thing, right? There are a lot of quality schools in Florence to choose from, but there are also some that are less than reputable and others that are outright scams.
As a foreigner, it’s not always easy to tell these schools apart, so we’ve done our homework and found five fantastic Italian language schools in Florence that you can trust. These schools are guaranteed to have fair pricing, qualified teachers, good accommodation options and plenty of extracurricular opportunities.
Before you go, brush up on your Italian skills by using FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
With FluentU, you can know before you go, and make your learning a tad easier by exposing yourself to the sounds of the language. For a deeper learning experience, use FluentU’s flashcards, interactive subtitles, vocabulary lists and many other learning features.
Ready, now? Let’s learn!
1. Lorenzo de’ Medici
Named after a member of the famous noble family, Lorenzo de’ Medici is a school that lives up to the sophistication of its name.
It offers over 500 courses in more than 38 areas of study (Italian is only a small part of what they offer). It’s been accredited by the Italian ministry of education as well as the US government and has been awarded the European Quality Certification by the EU.
So, what does Lorenzo de’ Medici offer students of Italian? Basically, the whole package. The main campus and housing are located in the San Lorenzo neighborhood, a bustling and beautiful part of the city that’s full of opportunities to practice Italian and soak up the culture. A number of course options are available and teachers are all qualified and accredited.
Lorenzo de’ Medici knows that learning doesn’t always happen in the classroom, so expect to be taken to markets and shops, read newspapers, watch movies and interact with modern Italian culture as part of your course.
2. Centro Machiavelli
Located just a skip away from the Ponte Vecchio (a famous old bridge), Centro Machiavelli can be found in piazza santo spirito (Holy Spirit Square). If a small classroom environment and a family feel in the heart of the city is what you’re looking for, then Centro Machiavelli is the right choice.
This school believes in the communicative teaching method, which means you’ll be learning grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation through the act of conversation. Real Italian teachers guide the process, which all takes place in small groups.
The typical school day lasts about four hours, which gives students plenty of time to explore the city. If you prefer guided events, Centro Machiavelli offers a long list of cultural activities such as tours, history seminars, visits to local artisan shops, excursions and much more.
Are languages not your thing? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to study Italian, but your significant other isn’t into it. At Centro Machiavelli, those who want to study something else can choose from cooking classes, music lessons and art history courses, among other options.
3. Centro Koiné
If you’re into Italian art history, you may want to study at Centro Koiné. Located in the historic Borgo Santa Croce, it’s only a few minutes from the resting places of Michelangelo, Rossini, Galileo and Machiavelli.
Centro Koiné itself is accredited by the Italian ministry of education and has won four consecutive customer satisfaction awards from LanguageCourse.
This school believes in small class sizes and using just as much culture as language training in their courses. Koiné doesn’t operate a typical classroom. Students are encouraged to take on leadership roles and explore their own passions in an Italian context. You won’t be limited to books and paper but will be pushed to explore music, art, history and current events in Italian.
Centro Koiné’s standard package includes 20 hours of lessons per week with plenty of cultural extras. But if you’re ready for a true adventure, Koiné also offers lessons in the countryside while hiking or on boats exploring islands off the coast!
4. Accademia Europa di Firenze
The Accademia Europa di Firenze (AEF) is a center of Italian language and culture in Florence. They offer a wide range of professionally instructed courses on all aspects of Italian culture including art, dance, music and of course, the Italian language. The variety of courses offered in one location make this school a great choice for a family or group holiday.
AEF is also great for travelers who want to study at their own pace, as they offer a number of different tracks to choose from. Those who want more free time can choose a light course of only 16 lessons per week. Others can go with the standard 20 or sign up for an intensive course of 26 lessons per week.
AEF guarantees at least 10 hours a week of afternoon (post-lesson) activities that students can attend free of charge. These include museum visits, film screenings and river rafting trips.
5. ABC School
The ABC School is located in a classical Renaissance-era building in the center of Florence. Almost a museum itself, the nine classrooms in the Palazzo Malvisi are covered in period frescos.
But that’s not the most special aspect of this school. The ABC school is one of the most student-centric schools we’ve come across. They limit their class sizes to just eight students while most other reputable schools set their limit at 12. They also write and edit all of their own course materials. If that doesn’t show dedication, then we don’t know what does.
ABC School is also the only school we’ve come across that offers Italian holiday courses. These courses cater to those who want to study and enjoy a vacation. One consists of 10 lessons per week and five lunches with a teacher in a Tuscan trattoria. Another is a honeymoon package. Another still is designed specifically for families with children.
Students taking any course will also have the possibility to participate in any of the integrated cultural activities that the school organizes in the afternoon.
Your Italian will bloom in the city of lilies. Don’t let your time in Florence go to waste. When you’re free, try to take in the city as the locals do. Gorge on a 1 kg Fiorentina (Florentine) steak, buy a purple scarf and go to a Fiorentina football match and most importantly, visit the countryside and develop a palate for Chianti!
Even if you’re just having a holiday, if you study Italian in Florence, you’re sure to experience the effects of immersion. Those don’t just include improved language skills but also a love for the city that became a part of you, if even for a short time.
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