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The Italian Job: An Englishman Interning in Florence

My name is Amir, but everybody knows me as Muzzi, and somehow I have found myself moving from the comfort of University in England where I was born and raised, to living and working in Florence, Italy. After looking all over the world for opportunities, I managed to land an internship in the wonderful city of Firenze.

Florence Italy Statue Water Fountain

Firstly let me say this much: I do not speak Italian. I had no idea what Florence is like. I knew very little about the job.

So having ticked all the right boxes for this opportunity, I packed my wits and a bag full of clothes, and flew to Florence just before my 21st birthday.

Settling in was not easy. No one else from my University came to Florence so I was doing it solo. Also, to make it worse, the first internship I had here was eating away at my soul. Long hours and tedious work meant I was constantly drained and had no free time!

However, having been here for four months now, I have found a new and exciting job (thanks StudentsVille), met some amazing characters, feasted on the infamous Italian cuisine, and explored the city by night and day.

With my interests buried in music and nightlife, I have taken it upon myself to scour the city for the best social hotspots. I have been to bars and clubs in over 50 cities worldwide, and so it is really interesting for me to compare the ambiance that Florence offers during the night.

So far, I have noticed that there are two general categories that bars can be grouped in over here: the cheesy tourist places, and the quirky Italian places. Personally I prefer the latter as you tend to find stronger cocktails, cheaper prices, better atmosphere and better music. Although, I must say, you will still find me in a tourist bar getting down to the chart hits from time to time.

Margarita bar in Florence, ItalyEnjoying my margarita at Margarita bar a little too much.

If there is one thing I have learned from the nightlife in Italy, it is this invaluable lesson:

“La serra leoni, la mattina coglioni.”

This basically translates to “a lion in the evening, an asshole in the morning,” and with the numerous happy hours, the disregard of standardised liquor measurements, and the usual price of a cocktail being only 5 euros, this witty Italian saying often holds true.

Menu of beer bar in Florence, Italy

The wise words on the Mostodolce menu (excuse their spelling) may not seem so wise in the morning.

Here are 5 random tips for going out in Florence that I will make up as I go along:

1) Tipping is generally not required.
After speaking with many of the locals, I have discovered that, unless you are dining in a particularly high-end restaurant, tips are generally not expected from you. This especially applies to students because everyone knows that we are terrible with money, anyway. So unless you are feeling decidedly generous next time you are in a bar, cab, or barber shop, you can save those pennies to put towards your next pint.

2) Girls, be prepared to get hounded.
Lets just say the flirting techniques of Italian guys over here are much more forward than back home. If that’s what you are in to, then mazel tov, but it is not uncommon to see a circle of seven guys honing in on one girl on the dance floor. Scenes from the National Geographic channel spring to mind.

3) Pre-drink at home.
If you are looking for a big night out but are a little strapped for cash, then I suggest making a trip to your local supermarket during the day. A large bottle of decent beer can be bought for about 80 cents, five litres of local wine for only €8, and a bottle of vodka for as cheap as €4. With prices like that, and free entry in a lot of places, your “I can’t afford to go out” excuse doesn’t fly with me anymore, mate.

4) Don’t be afraid to drink on the steps of a church.
This is something that I thought was pretty strange. Of all the places to enjoy a beverage outside, the Florentines’ destination of choice is often in front of one of their many famous churches. Although it may come across as somewhat disrespectful and sacrilegious, it is very common in Florence, and well… if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

5) Keep your eyes peeled for the UniFi (University of Firenze) student parties.

Crazy Crowd outside UniFi party in Florence

This was the crowd outside the last student Halloween party… just imagine what it was like inside

These parties are organised every so often and serve as a great alternative to the usual clubbing routine. Thousands of students flock to an official university building and turn it into a rave for the evening. €2 drinks and huge speakers set the tone for the night, but don’t worry; the events are fully condoned by the university (although I have no idea why because they are usually pretty crazy). The UniFi party announcements are rarely published so ask around the student community and keep your ear to the ground.

If you are interested in learning more about nightlife in Florence, as well as a multitude of other topics, then stay up to date with my stories here on StudentsVille.

Until next time,

- Muzzi

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