Planning a trip to Rome and Florence and can't decide between July or mid-November (our only two options). Worried about crowds and heat in July and worried about rain in November. Any thoughts? Thanks
It's a personal choice only you can make. Crowds would be the lesser of my concerns. Both cities are equally crowded any time of the year. In July you have more foreign tourists than November, but also fewer Italians (both residents and tourists) because very few Italians are crazy enough to visit those cities in July. That time of the year, Italians visit beaches and mountains where temperatures are more amenable and many local residents in July have also left already for the summer vacation homes. Actually the peak crowds in the cities are between mid April and June. The biggest concern ought to be the weather. July is unbearably hot in those cities and walking in the heat of summer in both Florence and Rome is debilitating. In your shoes, since you are visiting just Florence and Rome (so basically art museums, churches etc), both cities are probably equally enjoyable in November. Mid November is not yet that cold generally with temperatures around 60-65 degrees F during the day. Rain may be a factor since it's a rainy period compared to July, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to rain for sure. If you were also going to visit outside cities (like Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast or Lombardy's lakes or even the Tuscan countryside etc.) then July's dry and sunny weather might have been a plus, but in the cities you don't need sun and especially you don't need 100 F degree weather while you walk in the streets.
I've only been to Rome in February (twice). It wasn't all that cold even when it snowed (yeah, I was lucky to be there then). Sometimes it's positively balmy and it's more likely to be sunny than not. And that was February. I don't think Rome is ever without lots of tourists, but there will definitely be many fewer in November. I've been to Florence in October and February. Many tourists in October, not nearly so many in February, though there were lots of college students (maybe semester break?). I wouldn't worry about rain. As Roberto said, it's mostly indoors. Take a rain poncho that you can whip out and cover yourself (and day pack) with, and carry on as usual. That's what I did.
I would take a chance of a little rain in November over the certain stifling heat of July any day! Can't wait to retire so that I can travel in cooler weather!
I would vote for November, better yet, October. Why the choice? July and August can be pretty tough months in Rome and Florence. You best option in July is to follow local tradition. Take a nap from 2 to 5. With the long days of July, you can go much later at night. Nov does have the disadvantage of shorter days and weaker sunlight but it can be brutal in July.
I have been to Rome and Florence in July and the weather can be oppressively hot. AC is a must which costs alot in Italy and it is past along to customer always. So my preference is Nov from your choices however check to make sure all the places you wish to visit are open during your timeframe. It has been my experience that alot of tourist sights have reduce schedules during non peak seasons. In Italy and around Europe.