Are you wondering about Rome vs. Florence and which city you should visit in Italy if you have to pick just one?
As publishers of Romewise and Florencewise, we are here to give you our expert opinions!
But be aware, they are just that: opinions.
As you might imagine, at the end of this page, we are going to say that the choice is up to you.
But here are some tips to help you decide!
Is the Eternal City, Rome, more beautiful than Florence or the other way around?
Which city is the best city to visit?
Naturally, we think you should visit both of these Italian cities, as they are both amazing and offer so much.
But after decades in the travel business, we know how it is when you just have limited time and have to pick one.
We truly love both cities so you can count on this being subjective advice!
Here are things to consider when trying to decide if you should visit Florence or Rome Italy:
Both Rome and Florence have histories dating back to before the Roman Empire.
But in Rome, the Eternal City, this is evident nearly everywhere you look, at least in the historic center.
Right in the heart of Rome's city center, you'll come upon the Pantheon, one of the most intact ancient Roman monuments you can visit.
It is a truly awesome monument and to me, reason enough to visit Rome.
In Florence, you will find some things to see from ancient times.
Underneath the Duomo, you can visit Santa Reparata, the first basilica before the cathedral was built over it.
Even inside the Uffizi gallery, there are remnants of an ancient structure that you can see through plexiglass, mostly at the entrance.
But if exploring Ancient Rome, and admiring archaeological remains is your goal, it might be obvious to choose Rome.
Both cities have plenty of famous landmarks and incredible architecture.
One of the things I love most about Rome is all the different layers of architecture we have to explore here.
This includes ancient, medieval, renaissance, baroque, neoclassic, and Rationalist.
I think when many people think of "architecture" in Italy, it's Roman architecture and usually specifically ancient Roman architecture.
If that is your passion, then Rome is the city for you.
You can see so much ancient Roman architecture in monuments throughout the city just by walking around.
Florence doesn't offer any ancient Roman architecture, although if you love medieval and Renaissance architecture, then you will find plenty of this!
There is no way to compare Florence and Rome where art is concerned.
There is so much beautiful and important art in both cities.
Both Florence and Rome are home to famous art museums, I could never advise you to visit one over the other!
Some might argue that in Florence there is a higher concentration of Renaissance art than in Rome.
This may be true although Rome does boast vast collections of Renaissance art in the Vatican Museums alone.
In this case, you should think about anything that is really a must-see for you.
I actually dislike this phrase but it's quite clear.
Do you have anything in Rome or Florence that you absolutely must see?
If any of these are on your list of things you just have to see, you will need to visit Rome:
If any of these are on your list of things you just have to see, you will need to visit Florence:
And each city's citizens are proud of their local cuisine.
Rest assured in both cities you will have no problem finding delicious food.
And, yes, you will find pasta in both cities.
Italian cuisine overall offers plenty of standard items like meat, fish, and vegetables, but there are certain things each city is known for.
You also have to keep in mind the season.
Rome is famous for artichokes but they are only in season from late fall through early spring.
Florence is famous for ribollita but you may find it on the menu more in cooler months.
Where pizza is concerned, I have to give it to Rome.
While I am a fan of pizza Romana (super thin crust) vs. pizza Napoletana (thick bready crust), either way, you will find a lot more options for both of these types of pizza in Rome.
Florence is not really known for its pizza although, of course, you can find it.
And while I love pizza, I would not let that be the only reason to pick a city to visit - but it's just something to consider!
You might think you'll find better wine options in Florence due to its location in Tuscany, one of the wine capitals of the world.
But throughout Italy, you will easily find excellent wine from all the Italian wine-producing regions.
It really depends more on the restaurant you visit and the quality of their wine list.
If you are really into wine and plan to do some Tuscany travel and wine-tasting, then Florence may be the better option.
But just for wine options throughout each city in the various wine bars and restaurants, you will be fine in either one.
While there is some wine tasting near Rome, arguably Tuscany is one of the most popular spots in Italy for this activity, with good reason.
If you want your Italy itinerary to include some exploring in the Tuscan countryside and some serious wine tasting, you may want to choose Florence and then head out from there.
Both Rome and Florence offer fantastic shopping in their own way.
Both offer elegant streets with luxury shops, neighborhoods with cute boutiques, vintage shops, and outdoor markets.
I would not let shopping be the reason to pick one or the other for your city break.
You will do well in both!
It's one thing to visit Rome and Florence as a single person, with friends or as a couple.
The weather is usually similar in Rome and Florence as they are so near each other, although temperatures can vary a bit.
Both Rome and Florence are exhaustingly hot in summer and neither one will offer a "cooler" experience.
So if you are visiting in summer, do your best to stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day, and to keep cool and comfortable as best you can.
Besides worrying about heat exhaustion in summer, both Rome and Florence are beautiful to visit and easy to enjoy from early fall through late spring.
Both cities also have lovely green spaces and parks and gardens.
It may be a matter of finding out your preferences for the kinds of things you want to visit.
Whether you're travelling with young ones or elderly parents with walking issues, consider how you will get around.
In Rome, we often recommend golf cart tours to make everyone in the family happy.
Florence also has golf cart tours but in Rome you will see more.
For more about getting around:
We are big walkers.
We love exploring Rome and Florence on foot and suggest this as the best way to really see each city.
On the other hand, Rome can be difficult to explore only on foot.
Visiting Vatican City is its own adventure and usually, it's exhausting to try to go anywhere on foot after that.
However, overall, Rome is a very walkable city and the monuments and sites in the city center are within walking distance from each other.
Florence is arguably much smaller and easier to get around on foot alone.
We have never taken any form of public transportation in Florence, not even a taxi.
It's just so easy to walk most places.
If the ease of getting around and being able to walk just about everywhere is a factor, we would probably suggest you choose Florence.
When people visit Italy for the first time, it's common to want to see as much as possible.
We find many people visit Rome, Florence, and Venice.
With the fast trains, this is really easy.
But if your trip is focused on a specific area, deciding whether to visit Rome vs Florence may depend on where you are arriving in Italy or where you are going after your city visit.
Many international travelers arrive in Italy at Rome's Fiumicino airport (and sometimes at Ciampino airport.)
Florence has an airport, too, but it's much smaller.
It may seem logical to stay in Rome and explore it a bit before heading on.
We've found that when people want to visit Florence specifically, it doesn't make much difference to them to fly into Rome and immediately get the train to Florence.
So this may not be that much of a factor but it depends on you.
If you are on a cruise, your ship might dock at Civitavecchia, in which case, the logical city to visit will be the Italian capital, Rome.
Or it might dock at Livorno, in which case, the logical city to visit will be Florence.
If the ship stops at both ports, then you don't have to worry about choosing!
If you are including the Amalfi coast in your Italy itinerary, you may want to start in Rome and then head to southern Italy from here.
From Rome it's just an hour to the major city of Naples, and then an easy boat ride to Capri or a second short train ride to Pompeii.
On the other side of the peninsula where also the beautiful town of Sorrento is located, the Amalfi coast continues from Positano in the east to Vietri sul Mare in the west.
If your Italy itinerary includes Milan, Venice, Emilia Romagna, the Dolomites, or the Lakes regions, you may want to start in Florence which is slightly closer.
On the other hand, with high-speed train travel it doesn't make that much difference whether you leave from Rome or Florence (they are 1.5 hours apart on the fast trains.)
The trip will be several hours anyway.
If your trip includes Cinque Terre, it's much easier and relatively faster to get there from Florence than from Rome.
You could also include a stop in Pisa along the way!
I'd argue that if you have time in your itinerary for a day trip, then you have time to visit Rome and Florence.
And of course, you can visit Rome as a day trip from Florence and vice-versa.
If you do decide to visit both cities, the best way to travel between them is by high-speed rail.
The trip is only 1.5 hours and takes you between the two central rail stations, making it easy to visit one or the other even as a day trip.