Florence is based on the tourist. At the beginning of the summer months tourism was down and I was in danger of losing my job. My boss had to cut back on my hours for a month because of the lack of tourists.
Career opportunities for outsiders would most likely be in the hotel industry. Working for one of the major hotels in the US first then trying to get transfered overseas is the best way to work the legal way.
I am a salesperson at the local outdoor market. It's not the most glamorous but it is paying the rent. I got my job through my roomate who works there as well.
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I don't have a work permit. I wish I did but it's nearly impossible for someone who is not hired by a foreign company or is not a student to attain a work permit.
I enrolled in a month long Italian class that helped quite a bit. For me, the best way to learn the language has been to live day to day here. Just going to the market or seeing a movie is the best way to learn how the locals speak.
If you can, get hired by an Italian company or find any other way to attain a work permit before getting here because it will make your life 100% easier.