Studio Arts Center International (SACI)
Florence, Italy, Fall 2016
I have been in Florence for 14 days now and I still can’t believe that I’m not just another one of the tourists I constantly pass on the streets. On multiple occasions, I have even found myself saying “man, I can’t wait until tourist season is over” because there are people everywhere and I’m dreaming of the days that I don’t have to squeeze past everyone to get to class. Luckily, I have also been learning a lot both in and out of classes in these two weeks.
Some things to know if you’re going to come to Florence-
- Gelato. Get it. It’s much smoother than ice cream and even though you can get it anywhere, hold out for those better places to really get your money’s worth. Gelateria Edoardo is a place right by the Duomo where you have to take a number to get your gelato (which they make with natural ingredients), so while it may feel like going to the secretary of state, you get incredible gelato. To know if the place is good, look at the banana gelato. If it’s a pale white/yellowish, go for it-if it’s a bright yellow, keep moving because they probably use artificial flavorings/colors.
- If you don’t want to pay more than you need to, get your food to go/take away. There’s a service fee for sitting down to eat, even if it’s for 3 minutes, which can be an easy 25% of the price of your food. Also, don’t worry about tipping, but if the service is REALLY good, you can throw in an extra euro.
- The sidewalks are tiny and are more of a suggestion than anything. If you want to move faster, just walk in the roads and be aware of cars (who will honk at you if they want you to move) and bikes (who will ring their little bells and say stuff slightly angrily in Italian if they want you to move). Also be aware there is no grid system so it’s very helpful to have a map to help until you are familiar with where you are. Trust me, it took me an hour and a half to find my apartment the first day when it should have taken 10 minutes.
- My personal favorite thing, there’s dogs everywhere. They are allowed to go into stores and restaurants with you too, so be aware that people’s pooches may be nearby. Some will let you pet them, I’ve seen, but I’m too scared to ask to pet them in Italian.
Some things to know if you’re going to study art in Florence-
- There’s art everywhere. Like, literally everywhere. I often just wander around and run into another building or statue I haven’t seen. It’s an awesome place to walk around with your sketchbook when you have downtime.
- Just as at home, art supplies are expensive, but some things are cheaper than at home. If you paint, you can get linen quite a bit cheaper here than back in the states. Zecci gives you a student discount on art supplies-they have almost everything and are always ready to help you. Mr. Zecci is the guy with a salt-and-pepper beard and glasses, and he knows what he’s selling and knows numerous teachers at SACI and what they like their students to have. He even gave me a jar of some alkyd medium to give to my teacher to try out.
- From what I have seen, tourists will stop and watch you work if you’re doing art out in the city (like drawing sculptures in museums). If you don’t like people, especially strangers, watch over your shoulder, then you can wait it out (most don’t watch more than 10 seconds) or move yourself so they can’t see. But usually they stay quiet or tell you how good you are, so sometimes it’s kind of nice.