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Loved Rome. Can’t warm up to Florence

This is our first trip to Italy, and like many others, it won’t be our last.

We spent 18 days in Rome and absolutely loved it there. We walked the town and everywhere we went, there was a wonderful surprise....a church that was designed by Bernini and filled with his statues, lovely fountains everywhere, Trastevere with its music, cafes, and life. We found the city to be surprisingly warm and, well, wonderful.

Florence...not so much, we have been here for two weeks and can’t warm up to the place. Yes, the art at the Uffizi, Pitti Palace, Bargetello, etc. is wonderful. However, we find the city too crowded, unfriendly,and difficult to navigate since every street looks very much alike. There are none of those wonderful surprises we found in Rome. We won’t return.

Posted by
1097 posts

I felt the same way. Loved Rome, wanted more, was fine with leaving after 2 days in Florence. (Ditto Venice.) Travel is like art; different places speak to different people for different reasons.

Posted by
8293 posts

Take the No. 7 bus up to Fiesole for the day.

Posted by
681 posts

Funny I felt just the opposite. It has been a few years but hope to go back and take my hubby this time around. Rome is special though.

Posted by
23425 posts

It is all perception. We always think of Florence like a small Rome. Quieter, easier to handle than sprawling Rome.

Posted by
73 posts

I also love Rome. Florence.....not so much. I will go back to Rome. No plans to go back to Florence. I have been to many places in Italy and Florence is my least favorite. I am not an art freak so maybe that has something to do with it. Plus I found it too crowded.

Posted by
408 posts

Interesting. While my wife prefers Rome, I prefer Florence. That said, one thing that struck me in Florence was the prevalence of college students and the frequency with which we heard English, particularly American-accented English, on the streets, in shops, and in restaurants. It was startling after several years in France off the tourist path where one mostly hears French with the occasional Arabic tossed in.

Posted by
11294 posts

Everyone reacts to places differently, and it's not "weird" or unusual for someone to like both Florence and Rome, dislike both places, or like one but not the other.

Just yesterday, I was remembering what someone told me almost 30 years ago. She and her new husband had a summer in Europe, traveling with a railpass and without reservations. When she went to Florence, she cut her stay there short - because she knew she'd want to return. When she got to Rome, she stayed longer than originally planned - because she didn't like the city, and wanted to make sure she took in all the "must sees," so she'd never feel the need to return just for a sight she had missed. You clearly had the opposite reaction.

Posted by
7209 posts

Did not care for Florence at all. Other than the great pieces of art/architecture it felt more like a Disneyland for Americans (and there were lots of Americans everywhere).

Posted by
5357 posts

I'm definitely more Rome than Florence. I've been to Rome a number of times and I'd return at the drop of a hat, spent a weekend in Florence and have no desire to return.

Posted by
11350 posts

First time in Florence it was so crowded that it dampened our enthusiasm for the city. Second trip to Florence, we loved it, fewer crowds. Always have loved Rome.

Posted by
134 posts

There won’t be a second trip to Florence for us. We have seen all of the major sights here so there is no reason to return. Rome...now that’s another thing entirely. Loved it there.

Posted by
444 posts

I felt similarly, and I was surprised because I thought I would love Florence and Rome would be just ok. But we did Rome first and I fell in love with the city. Florence was nice, but did not dazzle me the way Rome did. I will hopefully go back to both, but definitely want to spend more time in Rome! 18 days sounds absolutely amazing...

Posted by
134 posts

18 days was wonderful but only enough to scratch the surface of that truly amazing city.

Posted by
15980 posts

Guess I'm the odd man out as we love both Rome and Florence! The Renaissance art in Florence was just insane: could not get enough of it. In fact, DIDN'T get enough of it in 5 days so we'll be back for another long stay next time! The duomo museum was closed last time so that'll be on the list for #2, and we spent too much time snarfing craft gelato at Gelato Fest to get S.M. Novella in. Still lots to see, and some favorites to do again. Yay!

Posted by
17 posts

I was told that Florence's streets were designed to trap enemies... only the locals knew their way though the web of Florence's streets. After knowing that, maybe you will forgive Florence for being "difficult to navigate". I made the mistake of exploring without a map on my first day there and never repeated that mistake after I couldn't find my way home. It does sadden me to hear that Florence is so crowded, but I know there are still gems in the city.

Posted by
1284 posts

I agree, but in fairness to Florence, or elsewhere, you had just spent nearly three weeks in Europe's greatest city. Compared to Rome, anywhere might feel a bit ho-hum mo matter what its attractions.
The Anglosphere equivalent would be going to London and then going to, say, Washington DC or Wellington. Those last two are nice enough cities to visit but they are never going to be equal with London for tourist sights and general vigour.

Posted by
318 posts

We saw Florence while on our first European trip which was a cruise so you know that our visit was just a matter of hours. We found it intriguing and b beautiful. Since our time there was so limited I would like more time to actually experience the city rather than flying through. Our RS guidebook was helpful to take advantage of our limited time, and we are still talking about a small restaurant recommended in it that catered mainly to students. The food was great, inexpensive and offered a view of the square where we could people watch. But when it comes to Rome---we've been there four times and would not hesitate to return. There is soooo much to see and do! Each section of the city has its own flavor and offerings. Loved our stay in Trastavore where we truly felt close to the locals.

Posted by
991 posts

I was the same! I have been to Rome twice and can’t wait to go back. I was in Florence once, and other than the art, I really didn’t like it. Of course it was August, HOT, and there was a giant spider on my hotel room ceiling, and I sometimes think maybe I should give Florence another chance.

Posted by
9429 posts

“Europe's greatest city”...
No, that would be Paris... : )

Posted by
124 posts

@susan - slightly different connotation, maybe. For me, Paris is the most loved. :)

Posted by
1100 posts

Ditto Norma. Go up to Fiesole and walk around the amphitheater and have lunch at La Reggia degli Etruschi.

Posted by
14 posts

Interesting thread. We adored Florence and thought Rome was so crowded big city impersonal.

Posted by
996 posts

On my first trip to Italy, I LOVED Rome. We only did a day tour to Florence (because we had other places in the area we were touring). We saw the major sights, but Florence just felt far too congested. The best part to me was the lazy lunch after we figured out we were lost.

On my second trip to Italy, I started off in Florence and loved it much better. Maybe it was because I started there? Or maybe it was because I spent more time there. I couldn't say.

Posted by
15980 posts

Or maybe it was because I spent more time there.

That could be. If I'd had to hurry Florence (or Rome, for that matter) I don't think I'd have liked it as much. Funny about the congestion as we didn't find it any worse than Rome: same dense crowds around the tourist hot spots but not so much away from them. I will say that I admired Ponte Vecchio anywhere but ON the thing!

Posted by
4421 posts

To each his own. Florence is my #1 favorite city. I've been three times and every time we increase the length of our stay there.

Posted by
4535 posts

I love Paris and find that Rome (and Florence) drive me insane. My wife doesn't care for Paris and loves Rome. It's a wonder we are still married ;-)

Posted by
8586 posts

I liked visiting both, but Florence felt like a place where I could live happily.

Posted by
63 posts

I went to Florence 40 years ago and remember it as being wonderful--atmospheric, cozy, great art. I looked forward to returning on our trip two years ago and showing my husband some of the beautiful art treasures I remembered. However, the Florence I saw two years ago was completely different. Packed (literally) with tourists, most of whom seemed to be carrying shopping bags, and we couldn't get near the art in the Uffizi because of the crowds. I wish I had kept my old memories intact! I agree that Rome is a much more interesting place to visit and does not have the feel of an Italian Disneyworld.