FAQ

Where is Apicius located?

An urban institute, Apicius is in the historic center of Florence, within walking distance of such landmarks as the Duomo Cathedral, the open market, and the Ponte Vecchio. The school's main building is at Via Guelfa 85 and other wine classrooms and kitchen classrooms are nearby.

Are classes taught in English?

Apicius is an international school. All courses are taught in English, except Italian language (immersion style for English-speakers).

What is the cost of living in Florence?

The cost of living in Florence is similar to that in the U.S. A cappuccino is about $2.50, and fruits and vegetables are perhaps a little less expensive in Italy (especially if you buy them in the open market) than in a U.S. city. Telephones are more expensive in Italy, as is energy in general (gas, electricity, gasoline). If you cook in your own apartment you can live relatively cheaply. Italian Consulates expect you to have about $800 per month for your stay in Italy, and this is a good estimate of the basic living cost for food and incidentals, if cooking yourself.

What is the exchange rate for Euro?

The current exchange rate is about 1 Euro = > 1.10 U.S. Dollar. For exact current figures, you may go to an Internet Currency Converter.

How should I handle money while abroad?

Bank Hours: M-F 8:20am - 1:20 pm, 2:45- 3:45pm   
Closed Saturdays and Sunday
s
NOTE:  Checks from US Bank accounts CANNOT be cashed in Italy.
You can use ATM cards, credit cards, travelers’ checks or international money orders.

Western Union

You can have money wired to you Via Western Union, which has several offices in Florence center. Toll free number (from Italy): 800/464/464.

Maccorp Italiana – Via del Calzaiuolo 42r                                                200/601622
Idea Di Ogbaide Ebmimieowei - Via Della Scala 8r                                  055/283636
Maccorp Italiana Foreschange - Via Alamanni 9r                                      800/601622
Maccorp Italiana SPA - Piazza Stazione 47r                                            800/601622
Maccorp Italiana – Via Por Santa Maria 3r                                               055/287309

ATM cards

You can withdraw money from your US checking accounts using your ATM card if you have the Cirrus or Plus symbol on the back of your card. Most of the machines have instructions in English. You will find ATM machines (in Italian, bancomat) at almost any bank.
**Be sure your bank has provided you with a FOUR digit PIN number before leaving. 
***Be sure to contact your bank in the States prior to departure to let them know you will be abroad. Many banks block service thinking the cards have been stolen.

Mastercard-Visa

If you have a credit card pin number, you can get a cash advance from ATM machines in Italy. If you don’t have a PIN number you can get a cash advance at an exchange office or at a bank. 
***Be sure to contact your credit card company in the States prior to departure to let them know you will be abroad. Many companies block service thinking the cards have been stolen.

Is there local transportation?

In the historic center of Florence everything is within walking distance; the farthest points would only be a 30 minute walk. However, Florence's transportation system is easy and efficient when you need to go outside of the center (e.g. Fiesole).

Buses generally run from 6am - 1am, with schedules varying by route. Tickets must be bought before boarding and validated on board, or you will pay a fine of about $100. Tickets cost about Euro 1.25. You can get a bus map at the ATAF office outside the station. Bus tickets can be purchased at newspaper stands, tobacco shops ("Tabacchi") and some cafes.

Taxis:   It is not possible to flag a taxi on the street in Florence. You must either go to the taxi stands in the main squares (Duomo, San Marco, Repubblica and Santa Croce) or to the train station. Or you can call for a taxi at one of the following numbers: 

055-4798, 055-4390 or 055-4242.

Is Florence a safe city?

Florence poses no special threat to visitors in either health or safety. It is perfectly safe to drink water from a faucet and to eat at any restaurant. As elsewhere in Italy, pickpockets are a menace, especially in crowds, on buses, and near the train station. Fanny packs and purses are easy prey to thieves. Women traveling alone will draw attention from Lothario-types, and walking alone after dark should be avoided (take a Taxi).

Should I bring my laptop computer?

Bringing a laptop is fine, as long as you know that it can handle the different electrical current in Italy (220V). Apicius does offer free wireless. Another option is to join a cybercafe which is inexpensive and convenient, since most remain open late at night.

Can non-US participants enroll?

Yes. Apicius is an international institute catering to clients from all over the world.

What will the weather be like?

January is generally cold, with the freezing tramontana wind sweeping down from the north. January 29, 30 and 31 are known as the "giornate della merla" (days of the blackbird) and are supposed to be the coldest of the year. Once the Christmas holidays are over (after January 6), the tourist sights are almost deserted but you will still find a warm welcome everywhere. There are great sales of Winter clothing during the last 1-2 weeks of January.
Average High 50°               Average Low 34.5°                      Average precipitation: 2.9”

February is "corto e maledetto" - short and cursed. It can be almost as cold as January, although winter traditionally ends if the weather is good on the Feast of Candlemas (February 2).
Average High 53.6  °         Average Low 37°                   Average precipitation 2.7”

March weather is notoriously capricious: Italians say "Marzo è pazzarello" - March is crazy. It is still chilly, and often windy and rainy too. The days are getting longer, however, and March 21 officially marks the start of spring. During the last weekend of the month, the clocks go forward, giving more daylight. There begin to be more tourists, particularly if Easter falls early.
Average High 59°                Average Low 40.8°                  Average precipitation 3.2”

April the weather is a little warmer and there will be more tourists.
Average High 65.8°              Average Low 49.5   °                Average precipitation 3.1”

May is the month of roses in Italy, with weather that is warm but not too hot for sightseeing. The major sights are crowded, not only with visitors from abroad but also with Italian schoolchildren, as schools often organize trips at this time of year.
Average High 74.1°            Average Low  52.3°               Average precipitation 2.9”

June is like May, but later in the month the temperature can rise steeply, particularly in the south. June 21 is the longest day of the year. Seaside resorts begin to fill up after the schools close in the middle of the month.
Average High 81.1°             Average Low 58.5°                 Average precipitation 2.2”

July can be quite warm, even hot. The ideal gelato weather! 
Average High 88°           Average Low   63°                Average precipitation 1.6”

August is much like July. Although it is no longer true that everything shuts down in August, most Italians close up shop and go to the seaside for vacation. There are great sales of Spring clothing during the last 1-2 weeks of August.
Average High 87.1°             Average Low 62.6°                Average precipitation 3”

September is a good time of year to visit Italy. The outdoor cafes are open again. Temperatures are beginning to drop and the weather is usually dry. Autumn officially begins on September 23.
Average High   79.9°           Average Low 57.6°              Average precipitation 3.1”

October is the best month of all. There are beautiful sunny autumn days. In northern Italy and at higher altitudes, however, temperatures may already be quite low, particularly at night. The evenings are closing in and during the last weekend of the month the clocks go back.
Average High 70°            Average Low 50°                 Average precipitation 3.5”

November has days that are short and often rainy, although rarely very cold. 
Don’t miss tasting the roasted chestnuts that abound at this time of year.
Average High   58.8°           Average Low   41.9°                Average precipitation 4.4”

December, the cold weather returns: you can forget about sitting outside on the piazza sipping a cappuccino. It can be cold and rainy and ideal for drinking very hot thick chocolate with whipped cream. 
Average High 50.7°        Average Low 36.3   

Will I need a VISA? How do I get one?

U.S. citizens visiting Italy for fewer than 90 days do not need a special visa. Upon arrival at your airport in Italy, your passport will be stamped with a "Tourist" visa, allowing 90 days of stay. Requirements for citizens of other nationalities may vary, so non-U.S. citizens should check with the Italian Consulate in their country of citizenship for instructions regarding their stay in Italy.

Can I arrange an airport pickup?

Apicius offers an airport pickup service for 80 Euro, payable directly to the driver, (so be sure you have Euros on you). To arrange an airport pickup, contact our California office at least three weeks in advance, with your arrival time, flight number and airline. We suggest simply taking a taxi from the airport to your accommodation, or to your apartment agency. From the Florence airport, cab fare should not exceed 25 Euro - all taxis are metered. If you lack knowledge of Italian, you can show the driver the destination address written on paper. The taxi stand at the Florence airport is just outside the baggage claim area.