Expat circles in Florence

Groups geared at those rooted in two (or more) cultures

Helen Farrell
December 1, 2017 - 16:48

Florence’s siren call has long attracted foreigners since the city became a fixture on the nineteenth-century European Grand Tour. The Florentine columnist Deirdre Pirro describes many of these colourful characters in her 2017 book, Famous Expats in Italy. What’s interesting is the sociological urge we stranieri feel to gather among ourselves. In no way do our groups, online and off, mean we’re averse to integrating with Italians and embracing Florentine culture: it’s just that sometimes we crave the reassurance of engaging with those who speak the same languages and who have experienced both our native and acquired cultures.




Storytellers Florence

Linda Martinez and Steve Brenner started the group Storytellers Rome at their hostel The Beehive in January 2015. Each month a theme is voted on by members of the Facebook group and people are invited to share a personal story based on the theme, although you’re not obliged to pipe up if you don’t want to. Encouraged by Tuscany-based friends who attended the event at the hostel not far from Roma Termini station, the couple is busy creating a similar event and community in Florence. The first date of Storytellers Florence is set to be Saturday, February 3 at Todo Modo bookstore in via dei Fossi—with more dates in the works for the first half of the year. In the meantime, join the Facebook group and start thinking about your personal tales worth telling (and sharing).

FB Storytellers Florence




Expat Women in Florence

This Facebook-based group vaunting over 400 members meets offline semi-regularly. Its purpose? To bring together English-speaking women of all nations to network and support one another in our experience here in Florence, as stated on the social media page. Chaired by Elizabeth Connolly, the December 1 meetup will be held at 7.30pm at Hotel Helvetia & Bristol—partners and friends are welcome. The group has a charitable focus with cash donations being collected at the December gathering, which will go to the Angels for a Day Toy Drive, raising monies to give needy children a happy Christmas.

FB Expat Women in Florence




The Yes Woman



It’s all about female empowerment and self-development at this group headed up by confidence coach Sophie Charlotte. As Sophie writes in the 850-strong Facebook-based group description, “This fabulous group is meant for high-vibe women with big and bold dreams, who want more than just the 9 to 5, the ‘OK’ relationship and the ‘I’m fine’ life.” Members meet often offline too in high-end venues like the St. Regis Hotel over finger food and fine wine. Several events are planned for January and February with speakers and workshop leaders who will share their insight and skills to sustain the women’s movement in Florence.

FB The Yes Woman




Creative People in Florence



Now in its fourth year of furthering creativity, Creative People in Florence was founded by Californian Sara Amrhein and Massachusetts-born Anna Rose to foster collaboration and activate the contemporary arts in Florence. Currently comprising 31 members, from photographers to jewellers, artists and fashion designers, on December 9 and 10 CPIF will be holding the Merry and Bright Pop-Up Market at Palazzo San Niccolò bringing together artists, artisans and designers for a weekend of holiday cheer, including a pop-up market, workshops, tastings and live music. Turn up on the Saturday evening for a festive aperitivo.

FB group Creative People in Florence / Website 





Tested in April and launching on December 1, Chatroom was conceived as a place to meet and chat. American founder Angela Guido aims to create a space for new connections and meaningful face-to-face human interaction to happen spontaneously, something not to be taken for granted in today’s digitalized world. Expect special events and weekend opening in the immediate. Located at via dei Serragli 38R, entry is free but membership is required. All are welcome at the opening event starting at 8pm on December 1.

FB Chatroom Club / Website




Florence Writers

Set up by St Mark’s Church Cultural Association, Florence Writers aims to create and nurture a writing community in Florence. It’s a platform from which new writers are encouraged and published authors are supported, as well as being a place where writers can meet fellow writers and lovers of reading. On December 12 at 6.30 pm, an organizational meeting will be held at St. Mark’s Church to get a new group off the ground starting in January. Open to anyone (experienced writers or newbies) who is interested in workshopping, discussing and getting feedback on their writing.

FB Florence Writers / St. Mark's website




St. James’ Episcopal Church

Florence’s American Church is a diverse and international parish, serving Italian and English speakers from a range of denominations, backgrounds and cultures. In addition to Sunday worship and the Sunday School, this active community vaunts a nursery, youth group, adult formation, a choir (open to new membership) and an adults’ and children’s lending library, as well as holding a thrift shop every first Wednesday of the month with proceeds going to charity (clothing, toys and homewares welcome) and daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in English. The 20-year-old Food Bank helps the homeless by a weekly distribution of basic groceries—volunteers are welcome.








The American International League of Florence is an institution. Founded in 1975, this nonprofit organization has members from all over the world, donating to more than 350 charities in 40 years. Funds are mainly raised through the annual Christmas Bazaar held this year at Convitto della Calza, near Porta Romana, on December 2 and 3. The bazaar features goodies from around the globe, baked delights, secondhand books, jewelry, children’s entertainment, clothing, accessories and more. Plus, a Nordic stand with specialties from Iceland, mulled wine, Christmas tea and more and an artisans corner spotlighting a selection of local designers and craftspeople. (More details here.)

FB AILO Firenze | Website 




Women's International Network of Florence (WIN) 

Now in its 27th year, Women's International Network of Florence (WIN), previously known as Network, was one of the first social groups for expat women in Florence back before the Internet existed. Have relocated this year (the former meeting venue was Syracuse University), the group now gets together at the RFK International House for Human Rights (via Ghibellina, 12). As stated on the group's Facebook page, "Network was founded in 1991 as a social and professional organization for English speaking women who reside in Tuscany."

FB Women's International Network of Florence (WIN)




Open Mic Night



Australian Marisa Garreffa is the mastermind behind the Open Mic Night held on the first Wednesdays in December and January at hipster hangout Tasso Hostel. In Marisa’s words, “I had the idea to pitch an open mic night for my writers’ group to expand our circles because we were getting bored of only listening to one another”. Now championed by Lee Foust as co-organizer, aspiring and established writers and performers are invited to interpret original content in front of an engaged audience. Or don’t present anything; just come along to listen, be moved and inspired.

FB Open Mic at Tasso Hostel Florence 




Florence Drawing Club

Started by Brit Trinity Mitchell and kept running by Irish artist Tom J. Byrne, the Florence Drawing Club offers opportunities for people in and around the city to come together, meet new friends and to draw. Being “good at drawing” isn’t a prerequisite—willingness to spend time with a pencil and a few people is all this group asks.

The club acts as a motivation to draw and to explore other people’s drawings, not to dictate or to set rules and boundaries. It’s open to all and free of charge.

FB Firenze Drawing Club




Firenze Moms 4 Moms


“We know how hard it is to move to another country, let alone with little children” is the tagline on the Firenze Moms 4 Moms website. In 2004, Kimberly Dopke-Vanzi founded this lifeline for foreign mothers upon moving to Florence with a one-year-old. The group organizes outings and activities for moms and their children, meetups for expecting mothers as well as mingle lunches. With nearly 1,200 fans on Facebook, the social media page offers a goldmine of information for things to do for families in Florence, as too does the well-maintained website with birth stories, details about family health and much more.


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Tim James

28 days and 17 hours and 46 minutes ago
Let's not forget about the "Friends In Florence And Tuscany" Facebook group. With almost 3000 members, they have been an English language support group since 2006. https://www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsInFlorenceAndTuscany