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allieckes68 Mar 19th, 2015 08:50 AM

Italy - 7 days on the ground
Hi, I am going to Italy at the end of May with my husband and we would like help deciding which city to visit. We know we want to visit Venice for at least 2 nights, but we can't decide between Rome & Florence. We are both foodies so having the best options for food is a must, also we are not really into a crazy trip meaning we want to see sites, eat lots of great food, drink wine and explore but not have to rush around. We have looked into hotels & Rome just seems a little overwhelming with all the choices & areas to stay, but the food choices look amazing! Any suggestions??

bobthenavigator Mar 19th, 2015 09:03 AM

I would split your time 3&4 by flying into Venice and home from Rome. You will lose half a day on the train between.

In Rome, look at Albergo Cesari for a great centro location.

fmpden Mar 19th, 2015 09:16 AM

Venice for two nights is only one day - so spend three or four nights. Then go to Rome for the balance. Open jaw into Venice and home from Rome is both cheap and smart. We also stay in the Termini area when in Rome for it convenience to transit. Some don't like the area because it is on the edge of the tourists but we like for being a little out of the traditional tourist flow plus the local restaurants in the area.

fmpden Mar 19th, 2015 09:21 AM

Forget - we have used Hotel Sonya and Aberdeen in the Termini area. Sonya is a little closer and across from the Opera House. My wife believes that their lattes are better but it is a close call.

allieckes68 Mar 19th, 2015 11:13 AM

Thank you. Any suggestions or comments about just doing Florence and Venice and leaving Rome for another trip? Or even just Florence with a day trip to Venice??

fmpden Mar 19th, 2015 12:10 PM

You really cannot do a day trip to Venice from Florence. Too much distance. But you can do Venice and Florence and come home from Florence. Airline connects from Florence are not as convenient. And maybe a day trip into the wine country from Florence. Do three nights Venice and four in Florence. Both have plenty to see and do. We have spent about three weeks total in the Rome over the years and always look forward to returning to see things we have missed.

WWK Mar 19th, 2015 01:00 PM

If you're foodies, Rome is a better choice. It really doesn't have to be overwhelming. I would suggest a hotel in the historical center so that you can walk to most places and not have to rely on the subway or cabs.

tuscanlifeedit Mar 19th, 2015 03:22 PM

I'm going to disagree with WWK about Rome being a better choice for food than Florence.

I love Tuscan food, and then there's the wine.

I also love several Roman dishes, but I find that it's just much easier to eat really well in Florence. In Rome, I have to do research and make reservations and the number of choices can overwhelm me. And even then I don't always get lucky. I've had some great meals at Armando al Pantheon (a popular restaurant in a central location) and one horribly awful meal.

I've never had Bistecca Fiorentina in Florence that I didn't love. I would say that in general, I prefer meat dishes in Florence to meat dishes in Rome. Don't know if you like meat, but it's something to think about.

Florence is pretty heavenly for sandwich shops, too. Beans, pappa al pomodoro, cheeses...

I just love the food and markets in Florence, and would be happy to name favorites.

I think saving Rome for another trip is a great idea, and the 3 nights in Venice and 4 nights in Florence sounds great.

I could and have spent a week in either place, but for your week, Venice and Florence is a nice combo.

You could certainly fly in and out of Venice, landing there, training to Florence, spend your time, then train back to Venice for your last nights. The travel time is short between the two cities, about two hours.

Finally, you said you want to take it easy, and to me that's a much easier combination than Venice and Rome.

I love Rome and go there as often as possible, but I'm just giving your another view of possibilities.

sandralist Mar 19th, 2015 04:43 PM

What do you like to eat and drink? Food in Rome and Florence is really very different if you are willing to seek it out and step off the tourist trails.

Broadly speaking, traditional cooking in Florence is soup, bean, bread and meat centered (although Florence can do very well with vegetables) , and wine is wonderful. Rome dishes up more of a variety of pastas, less meat, more seafoods and of course its own fabulous pizza, in several varieties, and not a lot of memorable wine. As usual, with research, you can beat the odds in either city for wine and food of all description and track down almost anything you want (although I would really pass on pizza in Florence). Rome, I think, has more thrills when it comes to markets and food shops, and just greater variety all around. If you are into high-end, inventive dining, my guess is that Rome has the edge, but I don't do that myself much so just guessing. But if you are investing those kinds of bucks in splurge dinners, you probably want to nail down whether the Michelin stars shine more brightly in Florence than Rome or vice versa.

sandralist Mar 19th, 2015 04:47 PM

PS: If you are drawn to Rome, you can decide ahead of time not guilt yourself if you skip some of the major tourist sights if, for you, you think they will feel more like dutiful, overwhelming slogs than something you would enjoy. If Woody Allen can treat Rome like a backdrop for his personal story, then so can you.

Florence is quite densely compact, so it is a joy to get to know it, and most of it is pedestrianized.

Hard choice to make. They are both beautiful, both deeply important to Italy each in their own way. You can have the trip you want in either place if you plan for it.

allieckes68 Mar 20th, 2015 06:43 AM

Thanks everyone! This was a huge help. I think Florence and Venice sounds like the way to go for us. Tuscanlifeedit - Please do share your favorites on food choices & markets in Florence. Also, could you suggest an area of Florence to stay? Right now I am looking at Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

Myer Mar 20th, 2015 07:33 AM

Second Albergo Cesari.

We stayed there and were very happy with the hotel and excellent location.

sandralist Mar 20th, 2015 07:43 AM

It really helps to read lots of reviews for hotels in your price range. Recently I met up with friends who were staying at Hotel Orologio in piazza Santa Maria Novella, and it looked nice to me. However, I have stayed in that area before, and if you plan on a lot of walking and sightseeing, there are only a very few sights in that area, so you will otherwise be walking some distance to the rest. Florence is quite compact for a city so rich in treasures, so nothing is too far to walk -- but after a long day of sightseeing, you may be surprised at how much you feel that extra 15 minutes of walking to get back to the hotel (and how much you might be inclined to "settle" for a restaraunt at the hotel doorstep rather than face more walking at the end of the day).

If you don't stay in the piazza Santa Maria Novella, it is still worth visiting for the Basilicia and the Farmacia nearby.

raincitygirl Mar 20th, 2015 07:43 AM

Piazza Santa Maria Novella is a good location. I love the JKPlace hotel there but it is quite expensive. (you didn't say what your budget is)

tuscanlifeedit Mar 21st, 2015 10:24 AM


I don't love Piazza Santa Maria Novella area. Not a bad area, just not my favorite.

I really like Santa Croce, especially the streets between Santa Croce, the Bargello, and heading toward the Ponte Vecchio. However, it could be a matter of taste and budget. I like these older streets for atmosphere. Good eats, too.

Last spring we stayed at a B&B very near the Duomo, which was long on comfort but short on any personal touches or guidance for guests. We were on a quick visit so being that central was great, and as we know the city pretty well, we didn't need anything from the host who was very contained and somewhat reticent. Nice place, though, with a computer, big bathroom, nice bed, good reading lights, etc. Inexpensive:

Near Santa Croce, via dei Neri has great sandwich shops, wine bars, alimentari and more. It skews a little young in the late evenings, but is a fun stroll in the late afternoon when shops reopen.

The Mercato Centrale is a must for me on every visit. We buy bits of cheese, fruit, bread, etc to picnic, but many shops there sell sandwiches.

Favorite restaurants last year for me were Trattoria i due G, where all the dishes were good but the bistecca was fantastic, and Del Fagioli, homey and delicious.

I hestitate to recommend any place that I haven't been to more recently.

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