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Florence- is it worth it? Florence or Venice?

Hey yall, Im planning my August 08 honeymoon and Im wondering if we should go to Florence at all. Were already going to several places and if I either knocked off Venice or Florence it would be very helpful. I really do want to go to Venice but Ive found they are the most expensive hotels. Any help?

Posted by
3551 posts

Venice is a 10 for romance. Florence in gen to me is not very romantic but a great tourist destination. Splurge a little it will be a memory for a lifetime for your honeymoon! Lucky you to have this choice.

Posted by
187 posts

Andrea my husband & I visited Florence & Venice in 2005 & will return for our 2nd visit in May (not Venice this time). I loved both but as the previous poster said, splurge & go for Venice. How romantic & you will never forget your honeymoon

Posted by
705 posts

Have to agree - go to Venice. Yes it will cost more but I'm sure will be memorable. A gondola or even the vaporetto down the Grand Canal at dusk - magic.

Posted by
6898 posts

We visited both this year and we really preferred Venice. Florence has great art and museums and should be visited eventually but Venice also has the art and museums and great food as well. You can't beat the romance or uniqueness of Venice. Venice would easily be our choice. Expect very hot weather.

Posted by
1130 posts

We stayed at a wonderful hotel in Venice called Hotel Bernardi Semzanto and it was NOT expensive! Check it out.

Posted by
204 posts

I cannot imagine anyone choosing Venice over Florence. Venice is dirty, extremely touristy, very expensive and tho everyone should see it once in their life, does not compare in importance, beauty or history to Florence.

Posted by
486 posts

Andrea,

Unless you're old and/or on your last legs, you may want to take a step back and think about your overall plans. You say "We're already going to several places and if I either knocked off Venice or Florence it would be very helpful." I hope you mean other places in Italy but if you mean other places in Europe, you should stick to fewer countries and consider doing Venice and Florence on a future trip. There is no reason to think they won't be there next year or that you wouldn't be able to go back so reduce your countries, enjoy your honeymoon and plan to go back in a few years.
We never thought we'd go and were married 17 years before our first trip. We've been married 35 years and have made 13 trips.

Posted by
1717 posts

I agree with Charles. Florence is much better than Venice. If you want to see magnificent white marble sculpture from Renaissance Italy, go to Florence. And Florence has better oil paintings than Venice.I did not like Venice. In Venice the Doge palace is emotionally cold. The streets in Venice are very narrow with tall walls : being there caused me to feel clausterphobic. When I arrived in my hotel room in Venice, after walking up many stairs, I opened the window to have some air to breathe, the air from the window smelled like a mixture of sewage and ocean water. Venice is romantic in movies, not in reality. I don't recommend going to any city for a honeymoon. Lake Maggiore or Lake Garda would be better. OR a small city: Verona.

Posted by
27 posts

When I wrote we were going many places I did mean cities in Italy only. Milan, Como, Venice, Florence, Assisi, Roma in about 13 nights. The only two cities I dont know about are Florence and Venice. Everything else I definitely have my heart set on.

Posted by
104 posts

I really enjoyed both Florence and Venice. But if I had to pick one over the other, it would be Venice hands down (especially since I am not a huge art person). Venice is really magical, especially at night having a drink on St. Mark's listening to the orchestras. It's a place to be enjoyed by just walking and wandering and getting lost. We didn't even set foot in a museum or cathedral and we felt we didn't miss a thing.

It is very expensive, as mentioned by some of the other posts. There are quite a few reasonable priced B&Bs (you'll find a lot of recommendations if you search this board), but you'll still pay more for food and drinks than anywhere else in Italy. It's really worth it, though, especially for a honeymoon. Definitely get a table and have a drink after dinner on St. Marks. It'll be the best 30+ euros you'll spend. :-)

Posted by
5842 posts

It really comes down to the role art plays in your priorities. If Renaissance Art is not the draw, go to Venice. If cost is an issue, consider staying in somplace like Padua, 20 to 30 min away, and take the train into Venice. There are other towns nearby as well. Even Florence I would rather stay outside of and travel into. Your overall itinerary looks good, don't plan too many days in Milan, Como good, Assisi and Rome are good choices as well.

Posted by
8 posts

Looks like we're voting here and, having been to both just a few weeks ago, I would skip Florence AND Rome and spend my time wandering the back streets of Venice. I was prepared to resist Venice; I knew it was expensive and I was sure its well known charm was overated, but we hit town just as the moon was waxing to full and after a few nights we didn't give a damn how much anything cost, or that our five hundred year old building smelled musty- it was, in a word, romantic, and my wife and I are already planning to return. One more thing: we never felt cheated there. The prices are high, as Rick warns, but (unlike Florence or God-awful Rome) the food and wine was always good and plentiful and the bill was added honestly. A few blocks from the Grand Canal will take you to some little neighborhood bistro where they don't ever seem to have heard English, but they're glad to see you, and you'll end up speaking more Italian than you thought you knew and making a few new friends. Just do it.

Posted by
157 posts

As others have said, I really enjoyed Florence and all the Great Art Museums, however Venice was a real experience constantly getting lost & finding all these churches with equally exquisite Masterpieces.

Bottom Line...See both if you Can.

Posted by
8 posts

My vote is for Venice, especially for a honeymoon. I was in both cities in Sept ( having been to both 35 years ago) and Venice is just as wonderful as it was 35 yrs ago, but Florence was busier, louder, and crazier. If you have to see the art of Florence, then go, otherwise no. In Venice get away from the crowds and walk the back streets and bridges. I could do it for hours. I took hundreds of pictures in Venice, much less in Florence. That tells me how much more picturesque it is. If you want to see pics, let me know.

Posted by
11 posts

Here I go on the Florence side. Agree with posters who didn't like Venice and wish we had more time in Florence. We went to both in September; isn't August when the canals are more likely to be smelly? They weren't that nice when we went. We had the only rude waiter experience of our trip in Venice, too.

Posted by
10 posts

My wife and I recently were in Venice and Florence this past October and I must admit, we both loved Venice and disliked Florence. Florence seemed very dirty to us, we were bothered by drug deals and people doing drugs while we were trying to do laundry just a few blocks from our hotel and the major museums. I'm sure this type of thing happens everywhere but it really ruined our image of Florence. Also, Florence was extremely crowded and busy and the museums are slightly more hyped up than what I thought they would be. The mandatory reservation systems while probably quite helpful seemed like more hassle and made it hard to plan the day well. Venice was beautiful and relaxing -- you could see everything and get a decent experience of Venice in 1 full day or 2 days if you want to take it easier and relax. That's my 2 cents anyway.

Posted by
468 posts

I hate to say it, but I think you are trying to go to too many cities if you only have 13 days. I would stick with the biggies, start in Venice, then to Florence and then to Rome. Believe me, you will want to go back and on your return trips you can see Milan, Como, Assisi, Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre......

Posted by
3619 posts

Go to Venice, Florence, and Rome. We spent a full month in Italy in April. Took us a month to do what you want to do in 13 days. We are going back in the Spring for ten days and are only doing VFR. Slow down,smell the pasta, and leave time for amore.

Posted by
31465 posts

I have to agree with Sherry, I think you're trying to fit too many cities into a 13-day visit! For a honeymoon especially, I'd assume that you don't want to be travelling just about every day in a whirlwind tour? After factoring in the travel times between cities, it's going to be difficult to work out a realistic Itinerary. One city to drop would be Milan (IMO).
Regarding the question of Venice vs. Florence, I enjoy both but in my experience Venice is more expensive (although I can appreciate that it would be slightly more preferential from a "romance" point-of-view). I would eagerly return to "Bella Toscana" and Florence, but Venice is a bit lower on my priorities.
One deciding factor might be selecting cities that are easy to get to and fairly close geographically, in order to minimize travel times.

Posted by
468 posts

I've only been to Venice once. I stayed at a lovely B&B named Domus Orsoni that my sister saw on the Travel Channel. They only have five rooms, but the rate was 60 euro per person and included breakfast. The rooms looked very new and were very nice.

Posted by
283 posts

I've been to both a number of times and would choose Venice by a wide margin for a honeymoon. Sure--there's trash in the canals sometimes, but you don't have the street traffic of Florence and it's so romantic. Of course, you can see great art and architecture there, too.

Posted by
152 posts

My wife and I visited, 1st time, in October. If you are into museums and art, go to Florence. But, we found Venice to be wonderful. The Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica have enough art and history to satisfy most tourists. Plus, the canals, the vaporettos, the cafes, visit to Murano, etc. etc. were very cool. We stayed at The Hotel Fontana, just "two bridges" from the vaporetto and St. Mark's. It was our splurge in Italy for 180 Euro, with a balcony opening to a residential courtyard. Check it out. Have fun. Ciao.

Posted by
1805 posts

Dump Milan unless you are flying into or out of this city.

It's a nice city, but like the previous poster stated, it's good for 1/2 day. You can the the Duomo, walk through the Galleria, then over to Sforza castle, and you are done. If you are considering Milan for shopping, you can get the same or better expensive shopping in Rome while you are there at the Spanish Steps.

All this being said....I'd do Florence before spending a ton of time in Venice. We did Venice as a day trip from Florence a few years ago...got there about 11AM, left at 6PM and saw everything we needed/wanted to. The Gondola rides were WAY to expensive...they wanted over $100 for 1/2 hour or so...not worth it!

Plus in August, that's a miserable time to be in Italy anyway - sorry! Can you delay the honeymoon until Sept? You'll enjoy the weather better, and you won't be on holiday with the rest of Italians, plus some shops/sites might be closed, just because it's Holiday Time in Italy

Posted by
689 posts

Venice has my heart. It is a love it or hate it city. In the end you have to decide what YOU want to see. I think Venice by night is the most romantic spot I've experienced.

We have never done a gondola ride. Instead we have fun following them, figuring out their route and getting ahead of them, and watching from bridges as they pass under. It has sort of become an inside joke - one we love to share.

We love Florence too - but if we had to pick one - Venice would be it.

Posted by
7737 posts

I've got to agree that for a honeymoon Venice is the way to go, but August is going to be pretty miserable anywhere in Italy. (Florence even more so, sitting in its "bowl" of surrounding hills.) You're going to find that most of the country is on holiday during August, making it difficult to find hotels with rooms available.

Definitely dump Milan from your itinerary. The only good reason for including Milan is if you're going on to the Lakes (Como or Maggiore) which might be a good idea considering how hot it's going to be. (The farther south you go, the hotter it will be.)

Consider starting in Venice and ending in Rome or vice versa. And don't make the mistake that some people do to save some money. If you're going to Venice, do NOT stay anywhere but in Venice proper. The magic of Venice is best experienced in the evening, after the horde of (other) tourists return to their cruise ships and mainland hotels.

Posted by
7737 posts

Also, I've heard that mosquitoes in Venice can be a real problem during summer. I don't suppose you can postpone the honeymoon a month? The weather in Italy is great in September. Nah, you probably can't do that.

Posted by
157 posts

Venice is well worth it. Florence is very nice too but Venice is the better bet. There is a magic in Venice that cannot be found elsewhere. My wife and I went there on our honeymoon and we just went back last year with the kids. Every one of us wants to go back and we will. Stay in Venice not outside becuase the city is the attraction. Getting lost is fun there. The crowds are thick during the day but they thin out at night. There are pleny of hotel accomodations that are reasonably priced if you are willing to sacrifice the elevator and or room service. Just leave enough time to get in and out of Venice because it is a long trip from there to Rome.

Posted by
466 posts

Florence is beautiful but I vote for Venice especially it you are going for a honeymoon!!!

Posted by
196 posts

VENICE!!!!! It's expensive but just magical. We stayed at Albergo Doni,a RS listing---good location, friendly staff, clean; breakfast so-so. We splurged on a gondola ride, but I would recommend taking an evening vapo ride and spending the extra money on a nicer dinner, a piece of glass, etc.

Posted by
13 posts

Hi. This might be slightly off topic-- but in August-- don't forgo the GELATO! We found it best in Milan.

Posted by
7737 posts

If you decide to do the gondola ride (which costs a fortune, maybe $200, but hey, it's your honeymoon!), I've heard it's best NOT to go down the Grand Canal, but instead go up the side canals. The Grand Canal is just too busy and not romantic. You can find gondoliers in several places other than at San Marco. Ask at your hotel.

Posted by
37 posts

Actually, both Venice and Firenze will be awful in August: I would suggest a few days to Lake Como, if possible. In terms of art/food/culture, Florenze is by far the winner (and does not rip off tourists)

Posted by
31465 posts

I'm revisiting the discussion and have another comment.

I have to agree with Ellen in that if possible you might want to delay the trip until September. The weather should still be good (I was in Italy last Sept. and except for a few days of rain, ironically in Venice, it was mostly sunny but not too hot).

I also stayed at Albergo Doni in Venice, and found the location very convenient. It's an older building but quite comfortable. The breakfast was good, and similar to other places in Italy (the BEST breakfasts were in Germany and Switzerland - I took photos to remember the one in Munich!).

For a honeymoon you might also consider spending more time on Lago di Como (Varenna or Bellagio), Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast (expensive, but awesome). That might be a better option to minimize problems with crowds & heat in either Venice or Florence.

Congratulations and Happy Travels!

Posted by
7737 posts

Yeah, you might consider doing a mini-honeymoon in the US after the wedding (Seattle is beautiful and pleasant in August) (^_^) and save Italy for a better time of the year, like May or September.

Or, if you just have to go to Italy in August, I second the idea of Lake Como (George Clooney can't be wrong.) It will be much cooler than either V or F and it's absolutely beautiful and romantic. Stay in Varenna and take the lake ferries to the other villages, such as Bellagio, for daytrips.

In Houston, you're used to every place being air-conditioned, but that's just not the way it is in Italy. In lots of places, AC is the exception, rather than the rule.

Posted by
515 posts

Andrea, as a fellow southeast Texan, I must tell you that Venice will feel just like Houston in August...very hot, humid, and sticky. That being said, Venice is MAGICAL. We were there in the summer. We don't remember the heat. We remember the magic, the music, the beauty, the shimmering canals. No cars, no vespas, fewer tourists in the evenings, tiny streets and bridges made just for holding hands and wandering. And the canals did not stink. Dress for the heat, but take a light scarf to cover your shoulders for San Marco. For a honeymoon, Venice gets my vote.

Posted by
9 posts

Venice. Skip Milan! Except for DaVinci's last supper, not worth it and the people are nasty.

Posted by
525 posts

For Venice, check La Magnolia for price. It is away from San Marco Square near Arsanale but easy walking to San Marco Square. It is also away from the crowds. The cruise ships add to the masses during the day but by 6 pm the streets are quiet. You need at least 3 days in Venice. Go to Burano and Murano also.
Congratulations! We did not find Florence dirty. It was easy to get around by walking. We stayed across from the Baptistery which was in the middle of the pedestrian walkway.

Posted by
24 posts

It is interesting to read the many different replies. We just returned from our first trip there. Being on your honeymoon makes me think that you might want to cut down on the number of cities you vist THIS trip, at least, and stay longer and enjoy where you are. I was an art major, and Florence is great, but we too, found it to be dirtier . Venice is more romantic. the days are very crowded with tour groups, but we spent time "getting" lost and enjoying the neigborhoods far away from the Square. ( go to the bathroom before you leave ! ) We took a day trip to Burano and had a picnic that was peaceful and delightful. Night time in Venice is wonderful......go up in the bell tower before sunset and watch the sun go down ! Lake Como is romantic also. Congratulations and have fun !

Posted by
2000 posts

I agree with Michael above. Venice is a magical romantic city, perfect for a honeymoon -- but you have to pay whatever is necessary to stay in the city -- not in the outskirts. You want to be there in the evening when all the cruise ship people have gone, you will not regret this. I personally would only do Venice and Florence. Rome will be tiring after both of these. Skip Milan also. Relax and hang out in one place for a while & enjoy.

Posted by
2000 posts

Take the gondola ride at night - not during the day when the canals are crowded and very, very unromantic! The Grand Canal is virtually deserted at night. A typical ride will start from a small side canal then work its way to the Grand. I guess there are different trips/prices you can negotiate. Touristy and trite though it may be, I don't think you (or your bride) will be disappointed.

Posted by
196 posts

Florence has beautiful Art but it is a hustling busy city. Venice is a pedestrian paradise and you could not pick a better place for a honeymoon. The price of a well placed hotel is well worth the money. As always Rick's book has great info on hotels.