Florence, the City of Lilies, and Rome, the Eternal City, both own up to their nicknames thanks to their charms and grandeur. These Italian gems are filled with stunning sights, magnificent Art, and plenty of History and Culture to write voluminous books on.
In both, you will eat to your stomach’s delight, reward your eyes with beauty, and fill your brain with unique experiences. But since both Italian cities are exceptional in their own rights, visitors that need to pick between the two are often left confused. Florence Vs Rome?
How can you make the right choice for your trip to Italy? Which city is better? The choice will depend on what type of traveler you are: do you prefer Art or History? Fast-paced or relaxed life? And more importantly: pizza or pasta?
While we’re kidding with that last bit, we’ve thoroughly researched and experienced Rome and Florence first-hand to bring you answers to your questions.
In writing this article, we considered the various points of interest you might have as a traveler to come up with a satisfactory answer. The question here isn’t which city is the right choice, but: Which city break is the right choice for you?
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Rome vs Florence – the quick answer
Both cities are world-renowned for a reason, and you can’t go wrong with either one. The one that suits you the most will depend on which type of traveler you are, but when it comes down to comparison, Rome wins because it’s bigger and offers more diversity of choice.
This diversity means that a trip to Rome will ensure that anyone will find their pick, regardless of what they’re looking for, whether it’s slow, intimate dining and excursions or a day packed with witnessing history’s grandeur. This isn’t to say Florence doesn’t have its fair share of assets, which is why we encourage you to read the full article to find out what you might be missing out on!
Best choice for families
Rome and Florence offer a range of family and kid-friendly activities, with plenty of parks, children’s museums, and tours geared towards younger ages. Kids will equally enjoy both cities, but the only con we could find would be that since Florence is primarily a walking city, transportation there tends to be more expensive than in Rome. Choose Rome if you’re afraid of your kids getting tired quickly and you’re on a budget.
Florence or Rome for couples
Italy oozes romance, and Rome and Florence are great destinations for couples seeking a destination getaway or honeymoon. Rome’s size offers various activities to choose from, each able to tailor to particular tastes. But Florence is warmer and more intimate than Rome, making it a favorite amongst seekers of romance.
As a solo traveler
Solo travelers can’t go wrong with either city as both are popular with visitors, ensuring you’ll always be able to meet people if you wish to. We recommend joining a food tour (or two) as bonding over food with strangers is a guaranteed way to make new friends. If it’s your first time traveling alone, you might prefer Florence because it’s smaller and easier to navigate.
Florence vs Rome – let’s dig a little deeper
Rome is the Italian capital and located at a relatively equal distance from the start and end of boot-shaped Italy. It is the country’s largest city and has plenty of sights and activities to satisfy the most voracious seekers of experiences.
However, this isn’t a city made for day trips as its location does not lend itself to a significant possibility of day excursions – apart from the Vatican and a few lavish villas on its outskirts. But Rome would be a good starting point for travelers planning to go to Southern Italy (i.e., Naples, the Amalfi Coast, or Puglia)
Florence is an Italian city and the capital of Tuscany, a region famous for its rolling hills, vineyards, and olive groves, as well as its rich artistic and cultural legacy. While Florence has a lot to offer, its small size makes it easily accessible.
But the beauty of Florence doesn’t just lie within its walls but also in its location. It is close to much of the best that Tuscany offers: cities like Pisa, Lucca, and Siena are a short train ride away, and the nearby countryside is home to many famous wineries. Northern Italy is also more accessible from this city (i.e., Cinque Terre, Bologna, Milan, or the Dolomites).
Rome vs Florence weather
Only 230km (143 miles) separate Florence from Rome. This, combined with their close topography and proximity to the sea, gives way to a similar climate – with only a few variations.
In both cities, summer starts in June and ends in late August. The coldest month of the year is January, and the month with the highest precipitation is usually November (the months that follow until late April also have their fair share of rainfall).
June and September see the most pleasant weather, while July and August tend to be too hot. Both cities see their temperature fluctuate between 1.6°C (35°F) and 32°C (90°F). The only difference is that Florence tends to get hotter, and Rome tends to get wetter.
If you’re visiting Italy during Winter or Summer, you can’t go wrong with either city, but spring is best spent in Rome as the city is home to many festivals and has fewer crowds then. Fall is best spent in Florence since the cool temperatures make it perfect for a stroll in the very walkable city. This season is that of eggplants, truffles, and pumpkins – all delicacies in Tuscany.
While Rome has quite literally written history books, Florence has contributed to a few exceptionally notable chapters. Both cities are filled with ancient ruins, incredible historical sites, tours, and guides.
But every step in Rome will bring you to a point in History spanning three millennia of vindictive Gods, glorious Emperors, and thought-provoking philosophers. While Florence is a testament to the Renaissance, Rome is a testament to Western Civilization, making it a clear choice for lovers of History.
Art, architecture, and culture
The Renaissance is a period that took Society from Darkness to Light. Florence is an eternally shining jewel of that light, reflecting its history through diverse paintings, sculptures, and architectural pieces.
Today, many of the city’s churches and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia, are home to renaissance art masterpieces by iconic artists such as Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and more. It is said that the historic center of Florence is an open-air museum, with narrow streets evoking tails of Medici’s family feuds, artistic rivalries, intrigues, and dark passions.
You will encounter works that mirror the beauty of this romantic atmosphere, such as Brunelleschi’s dome on the Duomo and the elegant palaces of Pitti and Uffizi. And something to note, pretty much everything is within walking distance, so you can easily navigate the sights.
In Rome, Art begins with the Etruscan civilization and that of the ancient Romans, continuing today with street art. The city is home to many pieces, most of which are displayed in its galleries and museums.
The nearby Vatican City also hosts a historical collection of classical arts, including Michelangelo’s frescoes, illuminating St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel with its divine beauty.
Rome’s architecture is as awe-inspiring but some Roman ruins remain better preserved than others. In Rome you can find so many iconic sites such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, the Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps, to name a few. But you can’t miss out on
The city was the epicenter of the Roman Empire and you will literally be walking in ancient history.
Both Rome and Florence will satisfy seekers of art, culture, and interesting architecture. One can’t go wrong with either city, but if you’re looking for variety, go to Rome, and if you’re looking for specialization in one period, head to Florence.
Activities and excursions
Although life is slower-paced in Florence, the city has its own range of activities. February is the month of carnival celebrations, while March is Florentine New Year. And if you somehow manage to run out of museums and churches to check out, remember you are in the middle of probably the best Italian wine region and there are plenty of wineries and villages a short day trip away from the center.
Rome is a megacity of hidden gems. Apart from all the activities you’re probably already familiar with, the city hosts a range of festivals – the most notable being that of April 21st, celebrating Rome’s birthday through parades, fireworks, and mock gladiator shows. In Rome, you can get lost in museums, works of architecture, or underground tunnels.
Alternatively, you can relax in its many cafes or party the night away in clubs. As you walk, sceneries will change from luscious gardens to ancient ruins, delicious gelaterias to trattorias, taking you from 126A.D to the 2020s in a few steps. You won’t run out of things to do and see in the Eternal City.
Both Rome and Florence have plenty to offer in terms of activities and excursions. Rome has more variety through sheer size, but Florence is better located for day trips.
The best of Italian food
For many of us, Italy rhymes with pasta, pizza, and gelato. And for those with more refined taste (or a quick google search!), it also rhymes with Arancini, Tiramisu, Ribollita, Prosciutto, and Panzanella. Regardless of the rhymes your stomach seeks and the city it finds itself in: it will find satisfaction because there is no such thing as a bad meal in Italy.
Tuscan food is as delicious and addictive as it is varied. One of Florence’s most notable dishes is Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, a carnivore’s dream in the form of enormous T-bone steaks cooked over chestnut embers. If you have room for more, reward your palate with a taste of pappa al Pomodoro, Pappardelle al Cinghiale, or Tagliere (all accompanied by a Tuscan wine course!). As for dessert: meals should also end with gelato in Florence, as it is the birthplace of this confection.
Roman cuisine swims in seas of local fresh ingredients, cheaper cuts of meat, warm legumes, and creams or pastries. When it comes to famous dishes, Romans have a special place in their hearts for Cacio e Pepe and Pizza Bianca. But, Rome is more than pizza and pasta. The Eternal City offers something for every taste: Supplì, Maritozzi, Saltimbocca, and Porchetta are some must-try worth mentioning. And while it is said that Roman life begins with morning coffee, gelato accompanies both afternoon and evening life.
While both Italian cities make our stomach growl at equal frequencies, Rome has a wider variety of culinary songs to dance to. You can find restaurants serving food from all different regions of Italy in Rome, as well as international cuisine – something Florence lacks due to its size. You’ll also find a fair share of Michelin restaurants in both Rome and Florence.
When the sun sets and gives way to the moon, the towns of Florence and Rome transform into vibrant cities whose corners become home to nightlife crawlers.
In Florence, visitors can enjoy their evenings with an aperitif or wine glass in hand. They can listen to live music or check out the different bars in the city center or the Santa Croce neighborhood – popular with students and travelers who like to party late into the night.
But for really crazy nights, Rome has the more popular options: the nightlife there is well-established with many world-renowned clubs and venues. There is a multitude of areas frequented by locals and visitors alike. Still, our favorite must be the Testaccio, where you’ll find clubs blasting music guaranteed to satisfy any crowd.
Shopping is a popular activity in Italy, and the cities of Rome and Florence are no exception.
Although there are many shops in Florence, most of them are geared to tourists, and the relatively small town size makes it so that there isn’t much diversity. Instead, Florence specializes in Italian leather goods (Tuscany is the home of leather, and Florence is its capital), which you can predominantly find at its Scuola del Cuoio.
On the other hand, Rome offers the opportunity to shop anywhere, from world-renowned luxury fashion houses to multinational clothing shops and authentic Italian stores. Rome has often been cited as Italy’s capital of shopping thanks to its famous Rome Piazza di Spagna and Via del Corso, which seem to house anything anyone would want to buy. We recommend also checking out Porta Portese, Rome’s most prominent market, which takes place in the Trastevere neighborhood between 7 am and 2 pm every Sunday.
Rome and Florence have similar price points, and both cities have various budget-friendly traveling options. Since Rome is a bigger city, it offers a wider variety of budget choices, especially for public transport, food, and activities.
As for Florence, although it offers fewer options – especially for public transportation- you will usually get better quality accommodations for the same prices you’d find in Rome.
For an in-depth price breakdown, check out the article Cost Of Living Comparison Between Florence and Rome.
Is it possible to take a day trip from Rome to Florence?
Yes, you can take a day trip from Rome to Florence and vice-versa. There are several transportation methods between the two cities, such as flying, driving, or taking the bus, but the most logical one for a day trip is the high-speed train as it combines the best in terms of cost and time. We recommend booking your tickets as early as possible: prices get higher with approaching dates.
Is there a high-speed train from Rome to Florence?
Yes, a high-speed train from Rome to Florence will take you from one city to the next in 1 hour and 30 minutes. Traveling will be easy and comfortable, with most trains departing from Roma Termini and arriving at Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station. The first train is at 5:35 am, and trains run every 30 minutes till 9:30 pm. Seat reservations are mandatory, with ticket prices averaging 40€.
Note that the alternative (intercity and regional trains) can take anywhere from 3h30 or 4h30 to complete the same journey, but they average a lower price range (€10-€20)
Is Florence less crowded than Rome?
Although both Florence and Rome are considered crowded during high season, Florence is less crowded than Rome. This might be due to the popularity of group tours in Rome, which make tourist spots heavily packed.
What is the best time of year to visit Florence, Italy?
The best time for sightseeing is between May and September, as this season sees the city basked in Italian sunshine, art festivals, and open-air dining. For those planning to see the Tuscan countryside, we recommend April to June when the landscapes become washed in flowers. Backpackers might prefer to visit during the low season from November to March, which hosts fewer activities but lower prices. Since August is a popular vacation time for many Italians and Europeans, airfares and accommodation rates spike during that month.
What is the best time of year to visit Rome, Italy?
The best time of the year to visit Rome is between April and June and September to early November. July is the hottest month of the year, which might make walking around the city unpleasant. August sees half of the city’s inhabitants take weeks off for vacation, closing many of the city’s establishments. Note that many tourist attractions close or limit their hours of operation during the early or late months of the year. As for budget travelers: the months between October and March will see prices drop considerably.
Rome vs Florence – final thoughts
When it comes down to Florence Vs. Rome, and making the right choice for your trip to Italy, there is no wrong answer. Both cities provide some of Italy’s absolute finest experiences, and which one you pick will boil down to personal preferences.
If you want to play it safe, Rome is the obvious choice due to its size and diversity of activities, but choose Florence if you are seeking a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere. But of course, you could just include both if you have long enough in you Italy itinerary.
Both are wonderful when it comes to culinary experiences. While Rome offers more in terms of History and Architecture, Florence’s Art scene and charming medieval beauty rival Rome’s advantages. Shopping and nightlife are best enjoyed in Rome, while Florence is more convenient for day trips.