Wondering whether to choose Florence or Rome for your next city break? We’re here to help you decide.
Florence or Rome for Your Next Trip?
When it comes to planning a city break to Italy, it’s easy to get stuck on picking the city. Between the romance of Venice, the chic of Milan and the sass of Naples, you could spend weeks travelling around Italy and still not have seen it all. And that’s not an empty phrase. I’ve tested it, I’ve tried! More times than is decent to mention.
Rome vs Florence
But many people who love culture, history and a touch of modern life feel drawn to both Florence and Rome. And why not? They’re both incredible cities. But if you have to make the decision and flirt with just the one, how do you decide?
Well, I’m here to help, with your travel plans if not your love life. Ideally, go and see both. But if you need to make the decision, here’s what you should consider.
Making the Case for Florence
One word captures the spirit of Florence more than any other. And that word is Renaissance.
It’s a word we’ve heard so often that sometimes it pays to take a step back and just soak up some facts. For years, hundreds of years, thousands in some cases, knowledge in Europe had stagnated and progress was slight. Then, in the space of a measly hundred years, the worlds of both science and art exploded. Discovery after discovery, invention after invention, creativity that reached out and touched the hand of god.
That image may grace the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, surrounded by Rome, but the main birthplace for the Renaissance was Florence.
Forbes rated Florence as the most beautiful city in the world. UNESCO declared the city centre a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists flock to its world class art galleries and easy streetside scenes and that brings me to perhaps the one and only drawback...
Florence is small and popular. And during the height of summer, that translates to crowds, queues, more crowds and yet more queues.
But so long as you avoid August, you will be fine. And can enjoy a trip to one of the most fascinating cities in the world.
HIGHLIGHTS OF FLORENCE: WHAT TO SEE
- The Uffizi Gallery
- The Ponte Vecchio
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
- Michelangelo’s David
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE
If you’re looking for a 5 star hotel in Florence, then check out the Portrait Firenze. This gorgeous property belongs to the Leading Hotels of the World collection, with 37 rooms and suites, a spectacular rooftop suite and 273 square metre Penthouse floor. With achingly beautiful views across the river, it’s within easy walking distance of the main attractions in Florence and provides a sumptuous sanctuary to retreat from the crowds.
TRAVEL TIPS AND PRACTICALITIES FOR FLORENCE
Florence has its own airport (FLR) just over an hour out of the city centre. You’ll find direct flights from FLR to several airports in the UK. Alternatively, many people fly into Pisa (PSA) or Rome (FCO) and take advantage of the excellent rail and road connections instead.
Within Florence, you won’t need your own transport. The centre is easily walkable and enjoying Florence’s streets is part of her charm.
Making the case for Rome
If Florence symbolises the Renaissance, then Rome goes back even further. Once the beating heart of the mighty Roman Empire, the sense of history and antiquity is tangible even today. It’s visible everywhere, from the crumbling columns of the Colosseum, visible from the morning commute, to the dome of the Pantheon, sitting plump in the centre of the city.
Yet Rome offers more than just a sophisticated Gladiator style theme park. It’s home to the Vatican, the world’s smallest city state, and the seat of power of the 1.2 billion strong Catholic Church. It has Renaissance-era galleries and churches, fountains, food markets, nightclubs and all the trappings of a modern European capital.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ROME: WHAT TO SEE
- The Colosseum
- The Pantheon
- The Trevi Fountain
- The Roman Forum
- The Spanish Steps
- Vatican City (yes, technically not part of Rome but you should still visit while you’re there!)
WHERE TO STAY IN ROME
For a 5 star hotel in Rome, the Portrait Roma brings a superb touch to its 14 luxury suites, with vintage 1950s photographs of Rome adding a sense of place and time. Enjoy breakfast within your suite or on the rooftop terrace, with its expansive views of the Eternal City.
TRAVEL TIPS AND PRACTICALITIES FOR ROME
Rome has fantastic connections with the rest of the world, through its two international airports, Fiumicino (FCO) and the smaller Ciampino (CIA.) It’s also, as you might expect, the hub for both the rail and road networks. Cheesy though it may be, almost all roads do in fact lead to Rome.
Within Rome itself, you won’t benefit from a car but probably will need to use public transport or taxis from time to time. That said, with a comfortable pair of shoes and a dose of enthusiasm, you can walk between most of the main sights.
So, which is best? Rome or Florence?
So, which Italian city should you visit?
Both are beautiful. Both serve classic Italian food. Overall, though, I’d recommend Florence for an in-depth study of Renaissance art and Rome for more of a well-rounded exploration of life over the last few thousand years.
What do you think?
YOUR ITALY TRAVEL GUIDE
Of course, you don’t need to only stay in one city or the other. You can take day trips to other destinations or plan out an entire Italian itinerary. Here are more articles from us on the joy of travel in Italy, from places to visit to recipes to try.
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