I'm planning to study abroad in Italy next fall. I have never been before and am trying to choose between Rome and Florence. With the Rome program I will spend 2 weeks in Florence but in the Florence program I only have 4 days in Rome. I can speak decent italian and will be spending a toooon of money to do this and I want to pick the right city. Any suggestions would be wonderful!!
Even though I don't care much for Florence, it's said to be the better city of the two to study. Good university (two of the three in Rome have an appalling overall rating), lots of students, a manageable scale, good bars (not many of those in Rome, although the situation is improving), more central location than Rome, and a lot of interesting sights and museums of course.
Rome is... well, Rome. And I agree: four days to see it is not nearly enough.
4 days to visit all Rome is a really short time, you have to run....
Florence is a small city, you can easily move by walk.
Rome is a big city and move in the center by walk is really difficult as it is too big.
In Rome nightlife is better than in Florence, there's more bar, disco and so on but it is also more expensive.
Are your weekends free for yourself to explore? If so, you can always take the train from Florence to Rome for a couple of days, and go back for more later on. From Florence, you can also explore other cities nearby quite easily.
I do have most of my weekends free to travel around. Set weekends for the Florence program are Venice, Rome, and London with 2 weeks in Viareggio. With the Rome program, 2 weeks in Florence, a weekend in London, Naples and Pompeii, and Venice. Apparently the school is in a more touristy location in Rome so I'm starting to lean towards Florence.
The way I see it, if you want to immerse yourself in the culture and get to know the place you'll be staying reasonably well, Florence would be a good option. It's smaller, but steeped in history, arts and architecture, and it is located in the region of culinary fame - Tuscany.
At all point of time, chances are, Rome would have more tourists than Florence. Besides, as pointed out by bentivogli, in terms of quality of education, Florence has a better reputation than Rome.
During your free weekend, you can always go back to Rome after the 4-days trip, if you feel you need more time there. Otherwise, you can do other small weekend explorations, say to Lucca and Pisa, or Bologna, or Orvieto, or Siena etc. The possibility is endless. Rome would be a bit farther away if you want to visit these places, although it is more convenient for Naples and Pompeii.
Thank you so much for the advice! I feel like I will be able to soak up a bit more culture in Firenze. The school will be the same in both places (an English program) so that won't make a difference but I would rather be less surrounded by tourists and be able to become familiar with the area.
must agree with most probably florence is the better option. great student scene, much more central to the rest of italy, good night life, lots of history (rome has this too!), and although not really a selling point, the city is rammed with american students (may help u with homesickness, etc). plus rome is just dirty hot in the summer!
but on that note, rome is awesome too, but IMO more of a visiting city that living city if that makes sense.