Florence, the capital of the region of Tuscany, is one of the most widely celebrated and visited cities in the world. Although known for its vibrant history during the Italian Renaissance and its vast collection of art, today Florence continues to be a major national economic center in Italy and a beautiful, lively city to live and work abroad in. The choice of where to work in Italy is an easy one when it comes to the “cradle of the Renaissance,” jobs in Florence are almost incomparable.
With a population of over 1.5 million people and an expansive metropolitan area, jobs in Florence span a variety of fields due to the city’s large economy.
Art. Florence is perhaps most famous for its vast collection of art, with a never-ending list of museums and Renaissance palaces still in pristine condition—not to mention Michelangelo’s famous David statue. If you are interested in working in Italy in the world of galleries and curatorship, or even in performance art, Florence is the city for you.
Fashion. Florence is also known for its important role as one of the leading fashion cities in the world. Some of the many designers that call Florence home are Prada, Gucci, Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Emilio Pucci, Bulgari, and Chanel, and you’ll find them lining the street of Via de’ Tornabuoni. Many of these famous designers are headquartered in Florence, offering incredible job opportunities for individuals who want to become involved in the fashion industry.
Tourism. The main industry of Florence, however, is its tourism. A strong political and cultural force in Italy’s history throughout the centuries, millions of tourists flock to Florence each year to see the sights. There are many companies—both Italian or otherwise—that offer a variety of services to travelers from all over the world, so for those interested in working in Florence in the tourism industry jobs are plenty. Tourism jobs in Florence may include anything from guiding tours around the city to assisting in organizing accommodations to introducing tourists to Florence’s well-known world of gelato.
English Teaching & Au Pair Work. For employment outside of an office, there are many job opportunities in Florence for individuals to work as English teachers or as au pairs. Since Florence has one of the highest average incomes in Italy, many Italian families can afford to welcome English-speakers into their home to teach their children English. Additionally, with the great amount of international business that flows in and out of Florence, English is an important mode of communication and skill amongst professionals, so there are excellent opportunities to teach English to adults in Florence too. A TEFL certification is typically required in order to teach English in Florence though.
A weekend trip to Florence is not enough—walking through the streets of the city, it is easy to see that the further you explore, the more there is to experience. The only way to fully embrace Florence is by living as a local. Whether you are shopping along the high-priced streets of fashion, testing each gelato shop in the city, or riding bikes through the surrounding countryside, Florence offers an endless amount of Italian culture. The many universities within the city also ensure it is brimming with students and young professionals, making it easy to make friends while working in Florence.
Aside from the numerous art galleries, museums, musical performances, and streets to explore throughout the city, Florence also offers an indulgent food scene. Italian cuisine is world-famous and Florence is no exception. The traditional food of the Tuscan region leans heavily on rustic, hunter’s fare that has now been elevated to plates such as bistecca al fiorentino (the famous, sizzling Florentine steak), pappardelle al cinghiale (wide noodles in a wild boar meat sauce), or fagioli all’uccelleto (white cannellini beans cooked with sage and tomatoes). Gelato is particularly popular throughout Florence, and the only difficult part abroad working abroad in Florence is deciding which gelateria is your favorite.
Each neighborhood of Florence has its own daily market, however the most popular is the San Lorenzo market, in the center of the city, infamous for its large collection of leather and other textiles. Additionally, the Mercato Centrale offers two floors of fresh produce, pasta, and meat—using local markets is an excellent way to embrace Italian culture and live as the Italians do.
If you need a break from city-life, the surrounding countryside of Tuscany offers some of the most stunning panoramic views in the world, and biking along its sunflower-lined roads is a very popular pastime amongst Italians and foreign workers alike. Florence is also centrally located within Italy, with multiple train stations connecting to other cities in Italy and Europe.
The cost of living in Florence is high. With tourism being the main heartbeat of the city, prices in Florence for housing, shopping, and even drinks can be high. However, the Italian lifestyle is very simplified. Nearly everything is within walking-distance and public transportation is widespread. If you are willing to navigate Florence’s winding streets and step off the beaten path, you will be able to find much more affordable options just as the locals do.
Florence has one of the higher levels of income in Italy to compensate for the high cost of living, but your salary is entirely dependent on the type of employment you acquire. It is important to budget and take your salary into consideration when choosing to live and work in Florence.
The most common type of housing in Florence is an apartment. There are many resources online and within the city itself that assist newcomers in finding accommodation. The most affordable option is to share an apartment with other roommates—embrace this chance to become a part of Italian culture by living with Italians themselves!
In order to work in Italy, you must obtain a work permit. Your prospective employer must apply for preliminary clearance from the provincial employment office in Florence; if clearance is granted, your employer must then obtain a work permit with the approval of the regional and central authorities. This permit is then sent to you so that you may apply for the entry visa, which you must have in order to enter Italy. Your closest Italian consulate is an invaluable resource during this process.
With the current economic state of Italy, the job market is extremely competitive—particularly amongst young professionals. Florence is also flush with many British and American expats, which provides both a supportive piece of home abroad and makes finding work for English-speakers additionally more competitive.
However, the chance to work in Florence, a highly international market,—regardless of your field of employment—is an excellent opportunity to grow personally and professionally. Adapting to a new culture and a new job requires adjustment, but the rewards of living in such a lively, internationally-renowned city such as Florence is worth the challenge.