I am planning on studying abroad in Italy next spring. It's tough for me to chose between staying in Florence or Rome. Either way I'll get a chance to see each of these cities, but only get to live and study in one. I've never been to Italy so I want to make the right decision! I also want to close to the beach...any advice?
I loved both of these cities... hard choice.
Rome was extra friendly, busy etc. A great place. But very touristy.
Florence was really picturesque, cultured, alot of art, but still had the nightlife and the friendly people.
I would say if you want more italian culture and a more 'real' view of italy, then go for florence.
But that is just my opinion. Maybe you need to do a trip and spend time in both places to see which one appeal to you the most.
it depends what ur into.. rome is crammed full of history, and florence is more based on art....
i have a friend who lives in florence and loves it! i hated rome but another girl i met on my travels was living there, and loved it there too... so i guess it depends what you want! but im pretty sure that there are big student populations in both places, i think florence more than rome... i only say that because i only really hear of ppl going to florence to study... rome is REALLY touristy, and its huge... florence is smaller, but also touristy, if it were me, id prob go with florence - only cos i hated rome too busy and dirty and loud...
I personally love Rome. It is touristy in the summer but it's also a living breathing city. New York is touristy in Times Square though obviously the city has much more to offer to those who live there.
A big difference between the two cities is the contrast from Northern and Southern Italy. Florence is smaller and I saw more tourists there in the center than Italians.
I'm slightly biased towards Rome of course, since I lived in Southern Italy.... Rome is very exciting, there are vespa's and cars crowding the streets (though nothing compared to Naples), hot weather and chaotic for some.
Rome is the start of Southern Italy and therefor has a stronger Mediterranean influence... as you continue south it becomes less and less like Northern Europe.
Florence is much more "Postcard Italy", relatively calm (though there are many drunken American college students!), cobble stoned streets...and the architecture is Renaissance rather than classical.
Everyone has there preferences, I admit Iknow much less about Florence than other areas of Italy.
Ask yourself what kind of experience you want and what you picture getting out of living in Italy. Are you attracted to bicycles and the rolling hills of Tuscany... a large and diverse city with easy access to the beach...weekend trips to places like the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Pompeii and Naples or hitting up Milan [not so beautiful] or Bologna or Venice?
Thank you guys for the advice! It's helping a lot. I was also wondering about the weather in January-May. And which city is closer to the ocean/beach?
I lived in Rome; I spoke decent Italian when I arrived, but still found that it is extremely hard to make friends with the locals. Roman nightlife, esp. during fall/winter, is mostly behind closed doors; people go over to friends' places, they don't hang around bars that much. Heard much better stories about Florence in this respect; the locals are more approachable, and since it is a much smaller city and the university is one of its main foci, you're much more likely to make friends. Rome's closer to the beach, though.
That said, Florence totally sucks in many other respects, unlike Rome. Accommodation tends to be more expensive, the city is extremely oriented towards American and Japanese tourists, and the sights including the museums are generally overcrowded...
Why not consider other cities as well, like Naples (adventurous, but worth it), Padova (recommendable in every respect, but not close to the beach) or Urbino?
Bentivolgi, interesting that you had a difficult experience in Rome, I was thinking of taking language classes there next fall. In that vain, what would be the preferable city? I have never seen Padova but lived in a city south of Naples during an exchange. It always seemed to me that Naples had a relatively quiet nightlife...
In terms of nightlife, there's really no place like Rome, or maybe Milan. I must say that I haven't explored Padovian nightlife particularly thoroughly, but given that it's a university town as well, it should be all right and affordable.
As for language classes, Perugia would be an obvious choice; it's where most foreigners go for language courses, and as a consequence their offer and the quality of it are quite good.