just go. seriously. less thinking, more going.
i did a year in barcelona and a year in bologna. both times, i just went without making any arrangements. didn't get a visa or work permit, didn't have any contacts, didn't know anyone. i do speak spanish and italian. that helped!
bring a few chef coats, aprons, and chef pants. plain black chef pants are great because they double as a somewhat dressy option. take some trains around and visit a few cities. eat in restaurants. good restaurants. wait until you find a city where you like the feel and the vibe.
get a local guide and target restaurants that are doing food that's interesting to you. eat in a few of them and decide which ones you would like to know more about.
and then go knocking on back doors. wear your chef coat and apron and knock on doors, offering to work for free for a specific period of time--a weekend, a week, whatever.
you'll get laughed at and brushed off a few times. and you'll also get taken up on your offer a few times. right place, right time. someone's always short staffed somewhere. find that place, and let your skills do the talking.
be quiet, observant, and humble. do what they ask you to do quickly and stay out of the way. if it what needs doing is washing dishes, do it. if they have you cleaning lettuces for three days, do it. and do it quickly, well, and with a good attitude. you will soak up knowledge by osmosis, just by being there.
the hard part is just taking the plunge. everyone wants to have something all lined up before they go. resist the urge to feel safe.