There are no shortages of language schools in Florence, in part because the Tuscan dialect is the purest form of Italian. This can make the process of choosing a school overwhelming. There are many reputable options with varying price ranges. There is even a school that has been teaching the Italian language since 1889. With so many options I didn’t know where to begin.
I spent hours researching the best Italian language schools in Florence. I found mixed reviews, price ranges from affordable to outrageous and schools offering university credit for their lessons. I found that Florence has Italian language schools for every kind of learner and personality, whatever their goal may be.
I decided to go with one of the more established schools that work with many expats and travelers. My experience was not a positive one. Although the staff was friendly, I found the lessons to be overpriced for what was provided. After 3 weeks of lessons, I did not feel like I got my moneys worth. My next time around, I found a relatively new school and have been blown away with the service and the results. Here are the top 5 reasons why Monnalisa School is the best Italian language school and cultural center in Florence.
- The School is Brand New
The owner Elisabetta has created a welcoming learning environment with stylish and comfortable classroom furniture. There is enough space for every learner, so you can spread out all the learning materials you may need to help you along the way. The previous school I attended crammed as many people as they could at a table. Smaller classes means more hands on information so you don’t slip through the cracks.
- The Location
The Monnalisa school is located on the edge of the historical city center near Piazza Santa Croce. Everyday on my walk to the school I would wander through Piazza della Repubblica, admire the Orsanmichele church, drift by Dante’s house and end my passeggiata (a leisurely walk or stroll) at Monnalisa School. The school itself is located in a protected historical building. As I am writing this article, the original frescos and statues are being restored and the entire building is being repainted. The restorations and architecture make you fell like you’re in renaissance era Florence.
- The Cost
Elizabetta offers very reasonable rates for the cost of individual and group lessons. Check her website, call +39 055 2344591, or write her directly for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Learning Approach
Elizabetta individualizes lessons for the needs of her students with practical material and has a firm grasp on the English language. Her ability to speak English allows her to explain the minutiae of the Italian language. This is exactly what helped me advance my Italian so quickly. Since I’m an expat I was dealing with the bureaucracy of living in a new country everyday. Elizebetta integrated that into the curriculum and we role-played scenarios such as government office visits. I was able to practically apply these exercises to navigate my day to day life.
- Dedicated and Passionate Teachers
After the very first week, I found Elisabetta to be caring and patient instructor who is passionate about teaching. She is exceedingly knowledgeable about the origins of the Italian language, the history of Italy, and a wealth of knowledge for all things Italian. She builds a community with her students that extend outside of the classroom. She has gone out of her way to always be helpful and made herself available for any questions I may have.
I’ve broken down the top 5 reasons for why Monnalis School is the best but this was my personal experience.
The first Italian language school my husband and I decided to attend was Parolanear Santa Croce. The prices seemed fair at first and we were told that the class sizes were small. The location in the centro storico Firenze made us decide to give it a chance. We signed up for three weeks to see what we could accomplish before committing to any more time.
Although we did learn a decent amount of Italian in our time at Parola, we found the class sizes were too big and too varied across levels of proficiency. For example, one of the weeks we were in class, a classmate could speak Italian very well but did not know any of the grammar. She was thrown in with all of us beginners, and we found that the 80% of the teacher’s attention went to speaking to the advanced student in the class.
To make matters worse, reviewing homework often took the entire grammar period of time when we found ourselves in a 12 to 1 teacher ratio. At the end of our 3 weeks we felt like we paid too much for too little so I began to research again. We decided a small break would give us more time to find somewhere that was a better fit.
I began to participate more in Facebook groups oriented towards Florentine locals, and found Monnalisa School for Italian language and culture. From the very beginning my experience was completely positive with Monnalisa School. I wrote to the school to inquire about prices. I also asked when lessons were starting and I proposed a date that I would like to begin classes again. I received a prompt reply, an incredibly reasonable price layout, and a start date a few weeks after my email.
When it came time for my first day of class I was blown away by the gorgeous historical building Monnalisa School is housed in. I was even more impressed when I walked into the school to find everything brand new, well decorated and inviting to the learner. That’s when I realized the owner of the school, Elisabetta, was also going to be my teacher.
I immediately found Elisabetta to be an incredibly passionate teacher who truly cares about her students. As I’ve already mentioned, I found this to be the best Italian language experience available in Florence. I wholeheartedly recommend Monnalisa School and Elizebetta to anyone looking to learn Italian.