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1st trip to Italy - 1 town/city

Hello. Asking for another. This person hasn't traveled outside the US yet but is generally globally and culturally aware. Much more so than average American.

I haven't seen this question asked anywhere else, at any time, so here goes.

1st trip to Italy. What one town or city would you recommend as the destination for the trip? Why?

Additional information:
- At this time, there are no money, time, or seasonal constraints.
- Assume at this time that you know nothing about this person's interests, except perhaps, of Italian culture in general.

(He may provide more info about himself later, but for now, wants to hear the answers to the existing question as it stands.)

Thanks.

Posted by
2497 posts

Sorry, but without at least some idea of this person's interests, or what types of things this person hopes to see or do, I would not offer an opinion. Why waste both our times by offering suggestions that hold no interest for that person?

If a stranger asked you what city in the US to visit without giving you any information, would you be able to supply an answer that you could be sure would suit them?

Posted by
971 posts

The classic trinity for first timers to Italy is Rome, Florence and Venice.
Without further information about your friends interests, I see no point in bothering to provide further information.

Posted by
2317 posts

1 place only?

If they like Renaissance art then Florence, with a day trip into a smaller Tuscan town.

If they prefer ancient history or are interested in Catholic sights, then Rome

Posted by
4059 posts

Our first trip to Italy we went to Florence. We chose it because of the history and art, and because we were afraid Rome might be overwhelming for beginners. We have never regretted that decision. And since then we have visited a number of Italian cities, including Rome 3 or 4 times, but Florence will always be special to us.

Highly recommended.

Posted by
2348 posts

More globally and culturally “aware” than the average American. What does that mean? And hasn’t traveled outside the US. Troll?

Posted by
211 posts

I agree with Jane. I have been to Italy twice in last 3 years and going back next year. I've been to Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi coast area and smaller towns around Florence. I recommend Florence. So much to see. I'm not an art historian but was in awe of the marvelous art. You can walk to most all sights. The beautiful Tuscany area is close as well as nice cities to visit - Siena, Lucca, Bologna, Pisa. All are day trips.

Posted by
31030 posts

I'd also recommend Florence, as that will provide lots of opportunities to see some great sights. As well as being a beautiful city, there are lots of day trips possible..... Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Bologna, Padova, Venice or even the Cinque Terre if you don't mind a long day.

As others have said, it would help to have more information on interests, time frame, budget, etc.

Is there a reason the person making the inquiry isn't doing this directly?

Posted by
11977 posts

Since you mentioned that time constraints are not an issue why would someone want to limit him/herself to one city only? Italy is a big country with many cities and towns that make the top 50 tourist destinations in the world.

The 3 pearls (Venice, Florence, Rome, in this order) is the standard starting trio for most first timers to Italy. Venice and Florence deserve a minimum of at least 3 nights each. Rome needs an extra one.

Since Florence is ideally located for day trips to many Tuscan towns and villages, I often recommend to add more nights to Florence, if one intends to use it as a base for such day trips.

Posted by
996 posts

I'm going with what's been said above. The standard first trip to Italy for many people is Rome/Florence/Venice. Without more information, I'm afraid that I don't have enough information to make an informed suggestion.

If they simply want to visit one city, though, I'd look at destinations which offer airline service.

Posted by
20686 posts

This is really strange. Probably a troll but I will play the game. Anyone who is "globally and culturally aware" -- whatever that means -- would know that one city in Italy to visit is Rome. Reason you haven't seem this question ask is because it is a really a xxxxxx question.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks all! This is all highly informative! Not a troll, I swear!

Posted by
104 posts

Your question got me thinking. If someone was going to come to the USA and focus on one city, I would recommend Washington D.C. for its history, architecture, museums and great food!

Having lived in Italia for 18 months, I personally would skip Rome --- and before you all crucify me for saying that -- it is just so noisy, dirty and lacks the culture found outside of this big city. Florence has so much in every area: history, art, architecture, food from all over Italia and Europe, and a convenient location to see some of the smaller cities so rich in their own rights. Lucca, Siena, and even smaller villages. I would strongly recommend getting a Rick Steves guide to Italia. The descriptions and directions are excellent.

I loved the independence of having a car, but there is excellent bus and train service from Florence.

Hope you will come back and post after the trip!
Catherine

Posted by
1666 posts

Rick Steves’ videos are on YouTube. Suggest to your friend he watch the ones on Italy and see what interests them.

You couldn’t go wrong with either Rome or Florence since there are many day trips within easy reach.

Posted by
4239 posts

So many choices.
Buy a guidebook and study your choices.

Rome is my favorite city in Italy. It has so much history, particularly ancient history and Vatican history. You can spend a week there and not see it all.

Florence and Venice are also must see places, but you can do them in less time.

There are many more great places to visit. Do your research first.

Posted by
1553 posts

(He may provide more info about himself later, but for now, wants to hear the answers to the existing question as it stands.)

Interesting...

Check out TripAdvisor.

Posted by
390 posts

I'm not sure exactly what Girasoli was referring to, but the forums on Tripadvisor for Italy are VERY busy, and many different destinations have "top things to do in _____" to give people an idea of what things are available to do in different places.

Posted by
1553 posts

Yep Katherine, I know. But thanks Katherine for "pointing out" how busy the TA forums are...

I was being a bit facetious to the OP since some people think he/she is trolling.

Posted by
7 posts

Texas Girl. I agree. Applying that same question to the US, I too would say Washington DC - it's an international city with people from everywhere in the world working or living close by, given the refugee communities, the embassies, the immigration communities, etc. yet it is also very much a small town, with a small town feel in some parts. (There is official Washington and unofficial Washington, or as it is known locally, DC.), it's got American culture in its museums and on its streets, it's got all the branches of the national government working - or not working - for all to see, it's got a Northern feel, but remains essentially a Southern town, and if you need to drive to see other places during your stay, it's got Baltimore to the north and Richmond to the south, with West Virginia, MD, and VA in between. Some very different places and cultures around that all come together in a sense to hash out their differences and get to their agreements in DC.

Sorry, for the tangent, but maybe that helps some in understanding the basis behind my question. I am asking for my son, in fact. He is 19. He was born in Washington DC, lived in DC proper, DC burbs, Rhode Island, Baltimore, and now going to school in upstate NY. His mother is West African. Meanwhile I am from the wild frontier that is known as Cape Cod. So yes, given his life circumstance, the amount of times we move, his personality, and the frequency at which he code switches, plus his love of national politics since age 5, I am going to go ahead make the assumption that he has a higher awareness of cultural and global issues than the average American. You can disagree with my opinion, but it remains, my opinion, and there is no need to question or disparage....my opinion.

At any rate, getting back to the question at hand, I am getting the sense that for most, it comes down to Florence or Rome, (or Venice as an acceptable alternative) if you want to do the big city approach. (If it's a small town approach, then that opens too many possibilities for discussing, I guess.) And when in Rome, you should do as the Romans do (sorry. Couldn't help it.) and take the good with the bad, the positives of the big city with the negatives. It sounds like with Florence, a smaller city, you get most of the virtues of an Italian city, with decidedly less downsides that you might get entangled with in Rome. Does that sound about right?

At any rate, I had him look over the answers, and I think he is leaning towards Florence right now, with an emphasis of getting out of the city whenever possible and enjoying the Tuscan countryside. He's like that. Loves the city, loves the country. Back and forth. Needs to escape one for the other. We do that a lot. Change it up. But for the question, it's good to force some rigor into the asking. Being based in 1 place means one gets to explore the one place and its surrounds more in depth than otherwise. Minimum time spent making connections and max. time getting to learn about and otherwise experience people from another country and culture.

But he is in college now, and needs a passport, and some disposable income. So we have a lot of time before we plan any further.

On a related note, he is also very interested in British culture, politics, governement, etc. Is there a place in place in Italy that has been marked by the Brits, and/or a place in Britain that has been influenced by the Italians?

Writing to you from my current home in Baltimore (bocce courts in Little Italy, anyone?) , ready to spend another working day in DC, enjoying the non-US views from my wife, and always in a love/hate relationship my Cape Cod home. I think my family enjoys cultural contrasts. My son was simply born into it. --C.

PS - The idea of exploring both city and country, and the internal need to do so, by him came about , I believe as a result of reading all of your answers. So thank you for forcing him to reevaluate his own thinking a bit.

Posted by
23728 posts

and the frequency at which he code switches,

I understood everything in your response except that. What do you mean? Do you mean his sexuality?

Posted by
1553 posts

Thanks Chaz for explaining further and putting the troll label to rest. Sometimes, a first-time poster can be put in the troll category; especially if an inquiry may be vague for personal reasons. I was joking when I wrote "checkout TA" - meaning maybe you would get the answers you were seeking.

Good luck with planning.

Posted by
7 posts

Nigel - I see that you are in the UK. I mean that, according to the one drop standard of the US, if you look slightly/vaguely black, you are pretty much considered black. This one drop rule still exists in the US. That is how this town of Baltimore, and just about every other town I have lived in, operates. Check out: https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/. So for him to talk with his parents and teachers vs. his peers, his relatives on my side, vs. his relatives on her side, vs. the surrounding city in which we live, adults vs. the youth, republicans vs democrats, he has to communicate differently, with different language, different physical and facial expressions, etc. because what is interpreted as one this with one external group, is interpreted differently with another external group. I guess we all do it to a certain extend, but with racial identity in the US being what it is, it's particularly important to reach across color lines.

Posted by
23728 posts

Interesting. Never heard that one before,

Fully half of my friends are or have children who are of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. It simply doesn't enter into the discussion, and we are all friends with each other and their friends. I don't notice any significant change depending on who is talking to who at the time. We are young and old. And many of us sing together too.

It think it may be different on this side.

Posted by
7 posts

It is DEFINITELY different on your side, I GUARANTEE you. That may have something to do with why he has been most interested in UK culture. That along with Harry Potter when he was younger (and all the white and nonwhite actors in the movies), the UK dramas and comedies, and the best drama/comedy of them all, Ask the Prime Minister!

Posted by
1553 posts

1st trip to Italy. What one town or city would you recommend as the
destination for the trip? Why?

Chaz, since you offered a bit more info about the person you are inquiring for, how about Rome? The city itself is a walking museum. Turn down any street, peek around any corner, and one will see something of interest or beauty.

Hop a city bus to go "nowhere" and see the outer parts of Rome. Aside from the usual tourist attractions which are really beautiful and mesmerizing, the little parts of the city can be just as wonderful to experience.

As we all know, Rome is a huge city, diverse with many ethnic backgrounds, traveling in and around, working in and around. There are so many "neighborhoods" to explore. You can pick one for each day and never really see it all.

Of course, there are many other parts of Italy that are breathtaking and afford a slower pace or a relaxed stance. It depends on the person's feeling at that moment - hustle bustle and craziness of a city? lay on a beach or dip into the deep blue sea? Explore a vineyard and sample wines? Rent a Tuscan villa and pretend to be a reclusive, but friendly maestro?

The possibilities are endless...

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks all, last we discussed this, he was under the mistaken notion that there were direct flights to Rome and Milano only. So they became top picks. A simple google search of course reveals flights to Florence as well. So, when it all settles out, I am going to bet that it will indeed be Rome or Florence. I will point out to him the ease of rail travel, as well.

Posted by
14003 posts

He might want to look into Bologna if indeed he wants to settle in for a month in one place. He can day trip by train to a myriad of places, and overnight to more. It doesn't get a lot of tourists but as a university town (with the oldest in the world), it has lots of students from many countries.

Posted by
51 posts

Hey Chaz, I hail from MA as well! I would concur with recommending Florence for all it’s wonderful qualities described above. In addition, on the topic of your son’s need for both city and rural (I have this too :), my recollection is Florence has nearly a suburban inbetween feel and a great central Italy location for quick, convenient, easy, hop on rail travel to the larger cities such as Rome or Milan as well as public transit such as rail or bus to smaller, quieter places like the hill towns and countryside to satisfy whatever is the whim of the day. Best wishes to your son on his adventure!

Posted by
1770 posts

After reading more posts from the OP, I have to add a caveat to my Florence recommendation.....
His odds of meeting and interacting with real Italians is way lower than if he were in some small nontoursit town. He probably has a better chance of meeting American college students who are in Florence for a semester, especially if he stays in the Trastevere neighborhood. It's not necessarily a bad thing, meeting others while traveling is always good, just something to take into consideration. I still think Florence is the obvious choice.