This digital nomad guide is written by Louisa Loring from EatingAroundItaly.com.
I have been traveling to Italy since I was in highschool and after my first work experience in Italy at 19 for a full summer, I decided to pursue a more in-depth study of the Italian language and culture from Smith College.
Since then, I have lived in Italy on various visas including student, travel, work and now with a permanent residency visa card.
I spent my first full year in Florence, exploring the city as a young student, curious to meet other Italians and explore the entire Italian peninsula.
I soon locked in a working visa and learned what it was like to live in Italy as a young woman.
I am now married and have been living in Florence for about 12 years, primarily working in the tourism industry and with Italian food and wine.
I currently study and travel Italy through the lens of a food writer, writing about all things Italian food and culture for my online website, helping foreigners navigate Italy’s overwhelming food scene.
Is Florence (Italy) Good For Digital Nomads?
Florence is one of the best places to be in Italy for Digital Nomads because of its central location within the country and because of its large expat community. It’s also small enough to not be overwhelming if you plan on staying for a shorter time frame yet has enough going on to keep you busy for longer stays.
Florence is located in Tuscany, right in the middle of the Italian Peninsula, making it easy to travel throughout the entire country without losing time with long travel days.
As a digital nomad, you can travel strictly within Italian borders and have it all at your fingertips: beaches, seaside, mountains, skiing, islands, UNESCO World Heritage Sights and much more.
Florence is well connected to other cities and towns through TrenItalian or the local railway (easy to navigate and fairly economic). Traveling to the rest of the EU and North Africa is also very simple either by sea, sky or land
The weather is mild, the food is amazing, the seasons are always different, everyone speaks English and the opportunity to build a community and lasting relationships jumps out at you.
And because Florence hosts over 10,000 students a year, the city has invested a lot in facilities, resources and opportunities for foreign visitors like digital nomads.
Digital Nomad Scene In Florence
There are three main locations where digital nomads and expats hang out in Florence as a general rule but of course, you will find them everywhere.
The first is Piazza Santo Spirito which is Oltrarno (across the river from the main tourist attractions). This is also where a lot of locals hang out so you will get a good mix of cultures.
Next is San Niccolò, a cute little neighborhood just outside the city center but only a short 10 minute’s walk from downtown Florence. It has all you need in one little area with lots of short-term rentals, tourists, locals and nomads alike!
The final neighborhood is Santa Croce, in particular Via dei Benci and Via dei Neri. Here you will find a ton of international restaurants, bars, clubs and resources as a digital nomad in Florence.
The Social Hub in Florence is another great location to meet digital nomads. This co-working space is the largest and most ‘complete’ of all co-working spaces, including a restaurant, bar, gym and the possibility for overnight acocomodations.
Consider joining these Facebook groups to be in touch with other digital nomads and build a community while in Florence:
Americans in Florence: Great general group for Americans in Florence
American International League in Florence: American charity group
Digital Nomads Italy: Scan for meet-ups in Florence or Tuscany (or organize them yourself!)
Firenze Moms 4 Moms Network: For digital nomads with families to meet other English-speaking kids
Does Italy Have A Digital Nomad Visa?
In theory, yes, Italy does have a digital nomad visa in place under law but it hasn’t yet been enacted.
What we do know when it becomes available and whether you will need to prove a minimum income and have had the same steady job for quite some time in order to apply.
In the meantime, you can apply for an Italian self-employment visa which does give you the opportunity to stay over the allotted 90 day limit for non-EU citizens. To apply for the Italian self-employment visa you must:
- Be a non-EU or non-EEA national
- Have no criminal record
- Prove an annual gross income of at least €8,500 earned one year prior to application
- Prove economic funds to support their stay in Italy
- Show proof of housing in Italy
- Be issued a health insurance covering any hospitalization or medical expenses in Italy for the first 30 days
- Show a ‘no impediment’ certificate to prove the value of their freelance services while in Italy
Visit the official Italian government website for more details.
Please note that I have applied for three different visas in Italy and each of them was very challenging. Italian bureaucracy is crazy complicated. I highly suggest looking for an agency or local resident who can help you with the process.
Do Digital Nomads Pay Tax In Italy?
You will need to pay taxes in Italy if you establish residency because like most countries, Italy taxes based on residency.
I suggest you do indeed take up residency because to adhere to many of the local services and benefits, you need to demonstrate proof of residency.
Where Should I Live In Italy As A Digital Nomad?
Piazza Santo Spirito
Piazza Santo Spirito is the most authentic neighborhood in Florence located Oltrarno, just a 5 minute walk from Ponte Vecchio. It is buzzing with great nightlife, restaurants, gelato, bars, markets, cafès and is the true heart of the city from a local’s perspective. If you don’t end up living here, I can guarantee you will be spending quite a lot of time here.
San Niccolò is a smaller and more quiet neighborhood just outside the city center. This is so quaint and cute, slightly less ‘well-stocked’ then other neighborhoods but the beauty and charm outweigh the 10 minute trek to the grocery store next to Ponte Vecchio.
San Frediano is located close-by Santo Spirito and is home to mostly local Florentines who were born and raised here. This is where you want to be if you want a little less traffic than downtown Santo Spirito but you want to be deep into Italian culture. This area is home to some of the best pizza in Florence, coolest little trattorias, and the best neighborhood nooks. It’s just off the beaten path but close enough to Florence for convenience and ease.
Other Neighborhoods to Consider
Don’t limit yourself to these neighborhoods. Consider the following if you are looking to keep costs down or be outside the city center:
- Pian Dei Giullari
- Porta Romana
- Piazza Tasso
Top Destinations / Attractions For Digital Nomads In Florence
- Piazza Duomo: One of the most iconic squares of the city along with Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Repubblica. This is where you will take some of the best pictures while in Florence
- Galerie degli Uffizi: One of the most important art history museums in the world
- Piazzale Michelangelo: the most beautiful outlook over Florence with a scenic hike to the top
- Galleria dell’Accademia: home to the world-famous sculpture of David by Michelangelo
- Ponte Vecchio: The most famous bridge in Italy
- Chianti countryside: Some of Italy’s most famous olive oil and wine just outside the city center.
- Mercato Centrale: The largest and most authentic open-air market in Florence with a newly renewed restaurant/dining experience on the top floor.
- Sant’Ambrogio: A friendly neighborhood with a lovely market and the best people watching in Florence.
- Food Tours: What better way to visit Florence than through its amazing food scene? There are several companies and individuals who run fantastic food tours.
- Wine Tastings: Don’t miss the opportunity to sign up for wine tastings while in Florence (or in Tuscany). Go directly to a winery or cantina or simply head to an enoteca or wine shop to have a wine tasting on-site.
Cost Of Living In Florence
Depending on the size and location, it will cost you starting at about EURO 750.00/month plus utilities. AnaApartment rental in Florence will depend greatly on whether or not you have a roommate and especially on its location. The more downtown you are, the more expensive and smaller the apartment will be.
Utilities (gas, light and water) in Italy are not included in the rental cost unless otherwise agreed upon, including wifi. Utilities are expensive in Italy because the price of gas is extremely high. Expect to pay around EURO 125 per month but this really can vary depending on your use, how many people there are, how warm you keep your space and the appliances you use. Consider getting an unlimited phone plan with a sim card and then using your hotspot to work from home instead of signing up for another wifi service.
Grocery shopping is relatively inexpensive in Italy but you can expect to pay normal prices when compared to other cities and countries for dining out. Expect to pay anywhere from EURO 100-150 per month on groceries (not including alcohol) per person.
You will likely not need public transportation within Florence because it’s so small. If you would like to purchase an ATAF bus pass, it will cost around EURO 260 per year. If you would like to move about with a bike, you can find inexpensive used bikes for around EURO 100. For transportation within Italy, use TrenItalia, which is easy to navigate and purchase tickets online (book ahead of time for lower prices and more availability).
Sim cards/cell service is very cheap in Italy. The main companies are Tim, Vodafone and Wind. Expect to pay about EURO 15/month for usually unlimited data.
Best Places To Stay & Work In Florence For Digital Nomads
Italy obviously has some of the best cafes and it’s easy to find the best coffee in Florence with good working spaces. Check out: Ditta Artigianale, Melaleuca, Le Murate Caffè Letterario, BEN Caffè, La Cité and Caffetteria delle Oblate for good wifi, coffee, eats and opportunities to meet others.
Florence is full of co-working spaces including the Nana Bianca (Porta Romana area with mostly Italian workers), Impact Hub Florence (Novoli outside of downtown Florence), The Social Hub (largest and most complete at Fortezza da Basso).
Pros & Cons Of Living in Italy As A Digital Nomad
Pro 1: Everyone Speaks English
Florence is such a huge tourist destination so most people speak English fairly well. Of course, Italian is a beautiful language and Italians honestly do appreciate it if you try but if you simply cannot for any reason, not to worry.
Pro 2: Centrally Located in Italy
Florence is the most strategic location for visiting the whole Italian peninsula.
Within just half a day of travel you can be in a new Italian region but feel like you are in a completely different country.
No more time wasted on long travel days!
And if you do wish to travel abroad, Florence has its own airport (via tram in under 15 min) or with the Pisa and Bologna airports just an hour away.
Pro 3: Amazing Food
Italian food is some of the best in the world and Florence has some of the best within Italy.
Although you can find plenty of international options, Florentines love their own food so the majority of the restaurants, bars and cafes are going to be exclusively Tuscan cuisine.
Tuscany also has some of the best sagras (food festivals) in all of Italy just outside the city center of Florence.
Pro 4: Great Opportunity For Collaborations
Because Florence depends largely on the tourism industry to feed the local economy, there are tons of opportunities for work exchange, partnerships and sponsored content in Florence and within Tuscany.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to brands and companies that you would like to work with.
Con 1: Hard To Connect With Locals
Florentines tend to be very closed people. They are hard to connect with so it’s good to try and make friends with just one local. Once you know one, you know them all but until then, it’s a tough crowd!
Con 2: Florence Can Seem Small
After a bit of time, you will realize how small Florence really is.
You won’t see a lot of turn around in restaurants, bars and hangouts. Rather, establishments tend to stay the same while shows and entertainment come and go.
Con 3: Too Many Tourists
Florence is home to hundreds of thousands of tourists each year and after a while, you do start to feel their presence which can be overwhelming. Stick to side streets and off the beaten path to avoid the summer waves of travelers!
Best Food To Try In Florence
There is so much amazing food to try in Florence. Check out these famous dishes while in Tuscany:
- Ribollita: vegetable and bread soup
- Pappa al pomodoro: tomato and bread soup
- Panzanella: bread and summer vegetable salad
- Lampredotto: cow’s stomach sandwich
- Pecorino cheese: sheep’s milk cheese
- Affettati misti: mixed sliced cold cuts from Tuscany
- Bistecca Fiorentina: world-famous Chianina steak
- Pappardelle al cinghiale: egg pasta with wild boar sauce
- Peposo: black pepper beef stew
- Schiacciata: locally made focaccia