Florence vs Rome

Florence vs Rome

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These two famous Italian cities are incredible, unforgettable destinations that everyone should visit at least once. But sometimes, depending on what else you’re hoping to do and see in Italy, you have to choose between Rome and Florence, and can’t do both in one trip. Whichever one you choose, you’ll find incredible food, plenty of history, and some famous sites paired with classic Italian dolce vita. But how do you decide? If you can only fit one into your trip here’s a little guide to help you find the perfect fit. 


LENGTH OF STAY

Let’s face it, neither of these cities can be fully experienced in just one day. You could spend weeks or even months in them and keep finding new amazing discoveries. But what is the minimum amount of time you need to enjoy the city and see the most famous sites? 

Depending on how long you have to dedicate to your city, it may determine which one you visit. 

Rome
In such a big city, it’s best to spend 4-5 days. Ideally, you’ll have 3 full days dedicated to Rome in addition to your arrival & departure half days.

Florence
To see the top tourist sites you need a minimum of 2 days, though 3 days is more ideal. Florence is a much smaller and more walkable city so if you’re short on time you’re more likely to “see it all” in Florence. 

Best Time of Year

Another external factor is seasonality. What time of year are you planning on going? Depending on the weather, you may want to skew your trip further south or north. 

Rome:

Best Time: Late Spring
Winter: Average: 47°F – cold winds and occasional rains
Spring: Average: 67°F – warmer, a mixture of sunny & rainy
Summer: Average: 87°F- very hot and dry, lots of sun.
Fall: Average: 70°F – the wettest season, starting in Mid-October.

Florence

Best Time: Early-Mid Fall
Winter: Average: 45°F- cold & cloudy with high humidity
Spring: Average: 59° F – sunny with chilly evenings
Summer: Average: 80°F- sunny, hot and humid
Fall: Average: 66°F – brisk and cool until November when the chill starts to set in and the rainfall increases.

Overall Vibes

an aerial view of the piazza in Rome

Rome– The capital and largest city in Italy, it is a sprawling megalopolis. Even with its ancient ruins, impressive architecture, and historical sites on every corner, it feels like a city. You’ll have to use the metro, bus, or taxi to make your way around. But it’s still a city with a clear Italian feel. Rome is famous for street food, slow espresso mornings, and late evenings. Rome has a vibrant nightlife and because of its size, there’s a huge variety. If you’re traveling with a group, you are sure to find a little something for everyone, from top fashion, to tourism, cuisine, and cinema. You’ll find everything a modern city has to offer, in addition to the ancient ruins.

[Photo Credit: Caleb Miller via Unsplash]

Florence Duomo and the city behind it

Florence- The cradle of the Renaissance, Florence is a large but very walkable city that has managed to keep its medieval and Renaissance feel. With winding streets, elegant palaces, and lots of beautiful Renaissance architecture, it’s a very cultural city with some of the most famous artworks in the world. Every corner of Florence oozes that old-world charm and you won’t have to worry about taking public transport. Florence gives you the quintessential Italian city feel, plus those Under the Tuscan Sun vibes. You won’t find as much variety in the nightlife or activities, but whichever corner you turn down, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a romantic Italian film.

[Photo Credit: Herr Bohn via Unsplash]

Amazing Foods

If you’re a foodie, deciding between Rome and Florence is entirely down to personal preference. Both of these cities have incredible local/regional food, quality ingredients, and innovative chefs. Rome will have a bit more variety and more street food. You’ll find simple but delicious dishes like cacio e pepe, pizza, pastas, and stews. Florence has embraced the slow food movement, with tiny cafes and earthy restaurants. You’ll find pappardelle with wild boar sauce, tripe, gelato, and of course Bistecca Fiorentina! 

Must-try Dishes in Rome

Suppli- rice croquettes
Trapizzino- stuffed pizzas
Jewish-style fried artichokes
Cacio e pepe- pasta with a creamy cheese sauce
Carbonara
Allesso di bollito – simmered beef
Saltimbocca –veal wrapped in prosciutto and marinated in wine
Maritozzi –candied buns filled with lightly sweetened whipped cream
Torta Ricotta e Visciole –sour cherry cheesecake

Must-try Dishes in Florence

Pappardelle al cinghiale- pasta with wild boar
Tagliatelle Porcini e Tartufo- porcini and truffle pasta
Pici- dense hand-rolled pasta
Ribollita- vegetable soup
Coniglio con umido- rabbit stew
Bistecca Fiorentina
Lampredotto- a street food sandwich made with thinly sliced tripe.
Schiacciata Fiorentina- a soft sponge cake covered with powdered sugar
Panforte- a thick florentine containing fruits and nuts

Rome is Perfect for…

History Buffs

a couple in front of ancient roman ruins in italy

Both cities have deep historical roots on display around every corner. But for history buffs, Rome comes out ahead. Florence’s history is undeniably concentrated in the Renaissance. In Rome, you’ll find everything from ancient Roman ruins to the Medieval period, the Renaissance, and a modern city. Rome is full of ruins, churches, and museums from every era that might interest. It’s also just a day trip away from archaeological wonders like Pompeii.

[Photo Credit: Dana via Shared Adventures Travel – read all about her anniversary trip to Rome here! ]

Top Historical Sites in Rome:

Colosseum
Roman Forum
St. Peter’s Basilica
Castel Sant’Angelo

Fashionistas & Shopaholics

Being a big city, Rome offers numerous shopping opportunities. With huge brands, big fashion centers, and lots of shops this is a shopaholic’s paradise. While Florence is known for some key shopping opportunities (leather, hand-made paper), Rome offers everything from top luxury designers to incredible vintage shops to stunning antique markets. Some of the famous shopping streets are like an art gallery of fashion – perfect for a day of window shopping!

Bucket-listers & First Timers

trevi fountain rome italy

Florence does boast some incredibly famous sites, like Michelangelo’s David and the impressively huge Duomo. But if you’re the type of person who likes to see the most famous and well-known sites in a destination, or it’s your first time in Italy, Rome has more bang for your buck. So many of the most famous Italian sites are located in and around Rome. You can see the places that spring to everyone’s mind when they picture an Italian vacation.

[Photo Credit: Dana via Shared Adventures Travel – read all about her anniversary trip to Rome here! ]

Top Bucket-List Sites:

Sistine Chapel
Trevi Fountain
Spanish Steps
Colosseum

Pantheon
Piazza del Popolo
The Mouth of Truth
Vatican Museums

Florence is Best for…

Art Lovers

a panel of the Gates of Paradise on the Baptistery in Florence Italy

Being the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence is the best place for art lovers. With famous works from Michelangelo, Donatello, Boticelli, and Leonardo Da Vinci, Florence has incredible galleries and art museums! You could easily spend entire days taking in all the amazing works of art around the city. While Rome has plenty of galleries, Florence can’t be beaten in this respect.

[Photo Credit: Liz via Shared Adventures Travel – read about her trip to Florence here!]

Top Sites for Art Lovers:

Michaelangelo’s David at Galleria Academia
The Uffizi Gallery
Boticelli’s Birth of Venus
Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise

Taking it Slow

If you only have three days to see all of Florence, you will have some very full days fitting everything in. But once you pass the three-day mark there’s a feeling of being able to slow down. From hidden side streets and gelaterias to the extremely popular slow flood movement, Florence encourages taking your time to enjoy its wonders. Because the city is so walkable, the more time you have to spend here the more you feel like you can relax into enjoying the city at a slow and mindful pace. You get a chance to enjoy the little details without feeling like you’re missing out on the “big sites”. Taste your way through the Mercato Centrale, wander through the Boboli Gardens, and catch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo.

Top Hidden Gems:

San Marco Museum
Todo Modo Bookstore
Oltrarno Neighborhood
Torrigiani Gardens

Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy
Via Toscanella Street Art
Fiesole
Orsanmichele

Day Trips

a smiling honeymooner on a wall with beautiful rolling Italian hills

If you like to get out of the city or are keen to spend some time in the incredible Italian countryside, Florence is the best city for you. With the beautiful Tuscan rolling hills just outside the city, taking day trips is extremely easy. Visit nearby towns like Siena, Pisa, and Lucca; hop on a train to Bologna; book a cooking class in Chianti; or you can even head to a country villa or farmhouse to see how they make wine and olive oil!

[Photo Credit: Jamie & Matt via Shared Adventures — read about their Italian adventure here!]


So which city is perfect for you? The best part of custom travel planning is being able to pick the perfect experiences for your interest and your style of travel. Inspired to visit Florence or Rome? Or do you have time to see both? Let us know and we can start planning!

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