friends

Making friends in Florence, Italy

 ‘Where do you meet people’ in Florence, Italy?’

It’s a subject I have touched on before but I really thought it worthy of its own post. It is true that The Florentines as people have a reputation for being very closed and I really don’t have a ton of Florentine girlfriends, more acquaintances. Instead I personally find it easier to form friendships with Italians from other parts of Italy since they too have had to move and make new friends. People here tend to stick to the same social circles that they cultivated in high school and pretty much, birth. 

Honestly, that behavior isn’t much different from my home town in Texas. It makes sense if you grew up in the same place, spent five years with the same 25 people in high school {my idea of a nightmare} and date someone from that group for six-odd years and are just, shy! Chances are you probably have the same friends you always have had. There really isn’t anything wrong with that though I always think these people really miss out on great friendships they could have in later life. Many of my closest friends, I met past the age of 21, and many of them are from all over the world.

Of course, in an International city like Florence. There are so many people coming and going that I theorized that perhaps locals didn’t want to make close friendships with people who might just end up leaving. After even more thought {you can tell I didn’t give this a rest} – I personally thought that maybe the very idea of friendship as I know it, as an American or even just myself, held different expectations as well. I am the kind of person who considers friends to be like family – the product of many years living so far away from home and trying to recreate that trusting circle of family-like confidantes. Friendships are like any kind of relationship – they take effort and time. 

That being said, what I learned to do was adjust my expectations from people so that I that I wouldn’t be disappointed. I knew that with some friends, it was going to always be a group dinner out or an occasional caffe — and with others, I knew that I could depend on them if I needed a 30 minute bitchfest about my latest visit to the Questura di Firenze or just a hug. While lately I have tried making friends with people planning to make Florence their home for a long time. That doesn’t always happen. Yes, it can really suck when people you love,  leave. That is when I bow my head down to technology and thank the higher universe for skype, whatsapp and all of the ways I can keep in touch remotely. :-)

So how do you meet friends in Florence as a newbie? 

First of all, it’s really not hard. Living here gives you all sorts of opportunities to meet amazing people, whether it be from school or work. We are really really lucky to be surrounded by Italophiles from all over the world. If you want to meet Italians, the first advice I can give you is – start learning Italian. While English is spoken here, you will find it hard to make Italian friends if your language skills are rudimentary. Start cracking a few Tuscan jokes – and you just might find yourself part of the group. Che scherzi davvero! ;-)

Join a group

There are a variety of groups in Florence that you can attend in order to meet new people. I always tell people that it’s the best way to meet people along with taking any kind of class (art, dance, cooking), where you can mingle with people who share the same passions as you. Start by checking my monthly events list, which has a variety of fun activities where you can meet people and enjoy the best of Florence.

  • Yelp, ok I sound like a broken record here, but I have to bring up them because I actually think it attracts a really awesome, great range of people. Yelp is a very new entity in Florence and there are so many cool events worth attending. The mix of people is mostly Italian with some Americans sprinkled in and internationals aged around 25-40+ {rough estimate}.

  • InterNations. While I haven’t really officially attended any of their events, I do know they are active around town and attract a wide {older than  30} range of people from all over the world. Usually the meet-ups are in the evening at an aperitivo bar or cool new venue.
  • Women’s International Network in Florence. I’ve been to an event or two to listen to the US consulate representative speak and I view this group as a women’s networking and workshop kind of deal, plus they normally have great food ;-). They meet up once a month and feature a speaker each meeting.
  • YAWN {Young Anglo Women’s Network} – This group has been active for some time. The women that attend the events are usually English-speakers from all over the world and they normally meet up for aperitivo etc. From their Fb, it looks as if they are looking for someone to take over organization of events from this month onwards.
  • Language Exchange in Florence. This is a mostly student group of International students looking to improve their Italian, English or whatever language they want. This is great for those studying abroad who want to venture off from the pack and meet European exchange students. Also take a look at Studentsville which has a lot of tips for students and an extensive forum.
  • Firenze Moms 4 Moms. While I haven’t attended any groups since I am not a mother myself, I have friends who have and have met fellow expat moms through here. The website/blog is super informative and I would imagine it to be a great resource for those navigating motherhood in Florence, Italy.
  • The Florentine, this is the English-speaking newspaper in town and often they have events {and they also many lists of events} that are almost always worth attending. I have met loads of people this way and still do!
  • A Friend in Florence. When I first came back to Florence I used to go to events organized by them and while the original founders of the group have moved to England, their FB page is still active though mostly for questions and inquiries. However, I bet you can meet people quite easily here!
  • Florence writers. This is a new group that has recently formed as a writer support group in town. They update everything on their Facebook page so stay tuned for cool workshops and events.
  • Start a blog! When I started this pet project of mine – the world as I know really opened up. Now from participating in various blogger events or social media conferences, I have met so many awesome like-minded Italians. We all have the same bad habits of taking 1,000 pictures of food and complaining about crappy battery life and I embrace it!

Awesome photo from fellow blogger, Valentina from TooMuchTuscany

 

Now I want to hear from you! What are your secrets to meeting people in Florence? What would you recommend newbies do and if there is a group I missed, let me know! 

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There are 18 comments

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  1. Amy Linder

    Ah! Thank you for this post! I have had trouble making any friends, due to the fact that my bf doesn’t really have that many close friends at all (one best friend he rarely sees is about it) and that my Italian language skills are not that great. I will definitely be checking some of these out. We’re about 20-30 minutes from Florence, but we tend to go into town every couple weeks or so (except this summer…for some reason we didn’t make it into town as much as we usually do).

  2. Birgitte

    Together with an American girl I have started a Facebook group for all kinds of creative people which includes a great mix of Italians and expats. It’s called Creative people in Florence. We are not very active in the group in terms of events :-) but it’s a great place to ask for advice and connect with other creative people. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318589264834446/

  3. hometoitaly

    I have often asked this question of my contacts, ‘friends’ or new meets when i travel hometoitaly each year. an expat contact i have know for years, who lives in Florence shares events at the British expats group. I asked her and a new expat, ‘do you have a lot of Italian friends’, no, and do you think you would have MORE Italian friends if you did not belong to an English speaking group, yes….. very interesting.
    i spent 3 months in Sorrento and except for casual friends at the language school I never found anyone who wanted to have lunch or coffee, very interesting. But the few people who explained this to me, said it was very ODD for a solo woman to be traveling, Italian women ‘would not do this’.

    all this prompted me to start my blog: http//www.hometoitaly.com!

    now how do mature, travelers make friends in a city with so many young students.

    • Alice

      I don’t now who told you this, but I’m Italian and we are not so closed with our mentality. If a girl wants to travel alone she can do that, it’s not odd, but if she decides not to, it’s because we prefer to share experiences (as a travel can be) with friends.

      • ggnitaly84

        That’s great Alice, I have actually met more and more people who enjoy traveling alone this year which is absolutely awesome. So perhaps times are a changin!

  4. Danielle Riff

    Great article. I lived in Florence for 1 1/2 years and also found it hard to make friends. I met a few great Florentines through the local music scene which I thought was really great. I was very lucky to have met such great people but it took a lot of time for me to prove myself that I was sticking around for awhile, working, trying to make a life, and not just the typical American. I also would go to restaurants and bar outside center. I thought people were a lot friendlier once you got outside of the center Florence.

    Wish I had seen this sooner though. I just moved back stateside from living in Italy 1 1/2 years and Georgina I think we studied abroad together in 2005!! :) Small world.

  5. This AmerItalian Life

    One of the most fortuitous day at the American Consolate in Florence. I had been looking to make new friends for over a year and a half…then I met this really awesome Texan… :)
    Like you said…meno male c’e’ skype/fbmessaging/whatsapp because you know I’m going to still be needing my daily dose of GG!

  6. missellenmiller

    Thanks so much for this great post! I’m definitely trying to meet some locals as I will be here for a year and most of the people I know right now will return home in December, but so far it’s been hard to find a group of people around my age. I will definitely check some of these out. I went to the Florence Writers group this week and it was mostly an older crowd, but who knows as it is just starting out. Your blog is a great resource for life in Florence, I’ve found it very helpful!

    • ggnitaly84

      Hey no problem, I know how valuable a good friend group is. Plus I know how hard it can be to find like-minded people your age so I wish you luck, I am certain if you put yourself out there you will meet awesome people! :-)

  7. Donette

    Amazing blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m
    planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
    Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • ggnitaly84

      I was happy that I started with wordpress, you can go with org if you would like to handle more of the backend yourself. I bought my own domain and adjusted the widgets etc. That being said, I am almost ready to change up my site a bit! I would start brainstorming and go with a theme that you know you could consistently be inspired to write about. I started with cool events in Florence and then transitioned the blog to basically anything in Italy (travel, food, life etc.). Go for it and good luck!

  8. Divya

    I love your blog!! Reading this post had me laughing out loud so many times as I identify with a lot of what you’ve written. I’m new to Florence. In fact I live outside the city in the hills of Chiesanuova (in the San Casciano area). Just moved here two weeks ago and really excited about discovering the city!

  9. chris

    Hey,

    Me and a few friends will be traveling to Italy in July and wanted some opinions/ ideas from you. We are on a budget holiday, and would like to explore Florence & Tuscany for 2 nights and spend another 2 nights exploring Rome. We are looking for hotels that would be convenient but cheap to stay at. Would also appreciate any insights on travelling, places to see, & things to do. Appreciate any help/ advice on the same.

    Thanks,

    Chris

    • hometoitaly

      a suggestion for places to stay in Italy that may not be your style but are usually less expensive and clean: the convents throughout italy are tenting rooms. I have stayed with the for the past 5 years. Ensuite rooms are more expensive

      in rome and florence they were often less than a 3 start hotel and i have met people from all over the world staying there. but if you want a late night party scene this will not work for you.

      another source for a few of the larger cities is crosspollination.com a division of the beehive out of rome.
      if you are traveling in the summer you can also try and find rooms at one of the universiteis. i have done this in england but not in italy, yet.

      source for booking a convent room: http://www.monasterystays.com

      • GirlinFlorence

        Thank you so so much for your suggestion, you are very very right – I have had friends staying here and its always am interesting experience, especially on thd old pilgrim road, via francigena :).


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