Living abroad can be an exciting adventure, but it can also be isolating at times, especially at the onset when you may not speak the language fluently or haven’t had a chance immerse fully into the culture.Making friends can be a challenge, which is why meetups are so important for those who have relocated to a strange city. Not only will you interface with like-minded folks, but you’ll have a chance to build business and social networks as well as getting to know others who understand the challenges of adapting to life in Italy. Meetups are a chance for you to share experiences, exchange insights and perspectives, find hobbies in common and get helpful advice from people who’ve ‘been there, done that’. Meetups connect people and form communities in a relaxing, fun atmosphere.
Here are just some of Florence’s most popular meetup groups, where you can attend real-life events and perhaps make friends in the process.
Created as a simple idea to build a community by sharing experiences, this English-language storytelling event caught on almost immediately. In fact, it became so popular that it was expanded from Rome to the city of Florence in 2018. Modeled after the Moth, a New York City-based group dedicated to the art of oral storytelling, Beehive Rome owners Steve Brenner and Linda Martinez host this happening in the warm and welcoming Todo Modo bookstore at Via dei Fossi, 15 rosso. Storytellers Florence, like Storytellers Rome, is free to attend and participation is not required, but do bring your listening ears to enjoy a variety of inspiring and delightful personal tales based on that evening’s theme. For dates and locations, join their Facebook Group.
Firenze Moms 4 Moms
Mums everywhere need support raising their little ones, but this is even more important for families moving to a foreign country. Firenze Moms 4 Moms is a lifeline for newcomer moms (and dads). The group, founded in 2004 by expat mother Kimberly Dopke-Vanzi, offers regular meetings where parents and their children can gather, mingle, find support, and form friendships (and playgroups). It also provides a resource guide, discussion group, and plenty of ideas for fun things to do and see with kids in the surrounding area. Expectant families are also encouraged to join. Firenze Moms 4 Moms is a closed networking group, so go to their website and request an invite or find more information by going to their Facebook page.
The name of this meetup appears to be a little tongue-in-cheek given that the group’s purpose is to bring people face-to-face to experience the real-time, human interactions which are often lacking in today’s impersonal, digitized world. Test launched late last year with great success, founder Angela Guido set out to create a space where new connections and meaningful relationships could be formed. Mission accomplished! The social club meets at scheduled times and is free to join, but membership is required. Go to their website to register or find them on Facebook. Their tagline: “Talk to strangers. Find your tribe. Belong.” pretty much says it all. Via dei Serragli 38r.
Speakeasy Multilingual Firenze
This meetup invites new arrivals and local people to merge, creating a unique atmosphere in which a variety of languages are spoken. This is an international language exchange with cocktails. Their weekly happy hours draw a diverse group of people from all over the world for the purpose of getting to know each other as they share language and culture. You must be an Arci card-holder (a yearly membership can be purchased at the door for €12). The card gives you discounts for various museums, movie theaters and so on. A cover charge of €2.50 includes drink and dinner discounts. English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Russian, Farsi, Chinese, Arabic and, of course, Italian are spoken here. Note: From time-to-time, there is a ‘women only’ Speakeasy. Find out more by going to their Facebook page or their Meetup page.
Connecting global minds is what this non-profit organization is all about. Located in 420 cities worldwide (and counting), InterNation’s Florence chapter is active, offering a whole host of events and group activities to choose from. In addition, they have a plethora of useful resource guides – from where to eat, how to find work, where to go for language exchanges, how to participate in online forums and more. InterNations offers two types of memberships: a basic, free membership or an upgraded Albatross Membership, which allows you to receive such benefits as free or reduced entry to events, additional networking features, and the opportunity to share your hobbies by joining interest-based groups. Go to their website to sign up.
Since the advent of social media, it’s a lot easier for expats to find places to meet people. Facebook is one of those places. Some expat groups are closed, requiring an invitation by an existing member, while others are public and open to all. Try Foreigners in Florence or the more intimate Foreigners Living in Florence. For those of the feminine persuasion, there’s Expat Women in Florence, a group that brings together English-speaking women of all nations to network and support one another. All of these groups offer online discussions that dole out tips and advice, but do keep in mind that it’s easy to get caught up in an ‘Italy bashing’ thread; a likely result of the frustration of learning to live in a non-native country. We recommend you try to stay positive to get the most out of this type of platform.
Open Mic at Tasso Hostel
Writers, poets, playwrights or journalists; those who dabble in words will want to take part in this monthly event at the Tasso Hostel in the hip Oltrarno district of Florence. Each participant has 10 minutes to present their original piece or performance and afterward, everyone is invited to join the group for wine and snacks brought to share by all the participants. Email one of the organisers, Marisa, at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a space. From 8pm to 10pm. Open Mic at Tasso Hostel.
Have you lived in Florence? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!