An important aspect of studying away is the opportunity for you to learn more about your chosen host country and how identities may be understood and perceived within this new context. We encouraged you to begin researching some of the challenges and opportunities you may encounter, and plan ahead by identifying people and resources that can help you make the most of your experience away. The information below offers brief descriptions of identity-based topics in Florence, and Italy more broadly, as well as access to people, resources, and programs you can connect with before and after you get there.
Florence has a moderate cost of living for Western European standards and is one of Italy's main tourist hubs. It offers many free sights and attractions for tourists. You can expect to spend around $350 on transit throughout the semester. Groceries are about 58.58 percent lower in Florence than in NYC. Likewise, the cost of airfare and immigration will come out to be around $1,600. These numbers will vary depending on your spending patterns.
In Italy’s tourist centers (including Florence) sidewalks, public transport, and public buildings generally have accommodations for people with physical disabilities. However, Italy is known for its old-world layout and architecture, which may increase the challenge level for students with physical disabilities. Students with wheelchairs can expect an extensive and accessible bus system, as well as attractions with ramps and elevators.
In general, discrimination is not a major issue for women in Italy with Italian women have access to many of the same career opportunities as men. However, this access has not removed the glass ceiling entirely. Although, women who work “white collar” jobs receive the same pay as male coworkers, women working “blue-collar” jobs receive only one-third the amount of their male counterparts. Furthermore, Italian women hold fewer positions of leadership and responsibility in organizations and businesses than men, thus hindering career growth and promotional opportunities. According to UN Women, about 5 percent of women experience sexual violence from a non-partner during their lifetimes.
While there is widespread tolerance of homosexuality in Italy, the prominence of Catholicism in Italy has meant that the country has been slow to accept LGBTQ+ folks. There is a formidable opposition to state recognition of any form of same-sex relationships, although they started recognizing same-sex civil unions in 2016. Despite the strength of conservative parties at the parliamentary level, Italy is billed as one of the top gay travel destinations in the world.
Race & Ethnicity
Many US travelers feel that Italy is not, by and large, a racist country. However, in discussion boards online, Americans POCs tend to have more mixed reviews, with some citing experiences when they encountered discrimination or hostility while others said that in their trips or years in Italy they did not encounter much racism. Across Italy, there are tensions over increasing North African and Asian immigration. Most feel that the anti-immigrant sentiment is more nationalistic than racist in nature. And discrimination against and attacks on Roma, or gypsies remains a concern. Generally, students of color should not feel overly concerned about experiencing racial discrimination or hostility in Italy.
Religion & Spirituality
Italy is predominantly Catholic with the second-largest religious group in Italy being Muslim, with over a million followers, followed by Protestantism and Judaism. Despite the prominence of Islam in Italy, and over a millennium of history in the country, it has yet to receive official status as a recognized religion, whereas much smaller groups such as the Mormon Church of Latter-Day Saints and the Pentecostal Assemblies of God have been recognized. Regardless of the status of the religion in Italy, you should feel comfortable practicing your faith there regardless of your denomination.