I recently was fortunate enough to visit Italy and spend time in both Rome and Florence. I spent 3 days in Rome/Vatican City and just 6 hours in Florence. It only took me 6 hours to fall in love with Florence and less than that to realize that I’ll probably never return to Rome.
|Relatively clean by European standards.||Dirty – extremely dirty, by any and all worldly standards.|
|Better customer service. In the 6 hours I was in Florence I received better customer service in stores and restaurants than I did in the 3 days I was in Rome.||Rude people – I only ran across one worker in a restaurant that I considered friendly.|
|Walkable – After taking the high speed train from Rome to Florence I was able to walk to all of the sites.||While the train system is pretty easy to navigate, I still had to hop on and hop off quite a bit. I was able to walk places but it was more difficult.|
|Florence had smaller crowds. There still were tons of people but it was nothing like Rome.||October is considered the off-season so the crowds while I was there were smaller, but there were still SO MANY PEOPLE, which translated into long lines.|
|Shopping was great. There were lots of street vendors and local shops.||Shopping would have been great if I had a million dollars. Most of the stores were either tourist shops full of items with “I love Rome” plastered on them or very high-end stores like Gucci. I couldn’t afford what I wanted and didn’t want to buy what I could afford.|
|The restaurants in Florence were less solicitous. For anyone who has traveled in Europe you know that waiters and hosts at restaurants stand outside and try to attract customers. Florence workers were not as aggressive as Rome.||Every time I walked down a restaurant-lined street I was hassled by a million restaurant workers who would often start with small talk and then try to segue into promoting their restaurant. I knew to ignore them, but some of my travel companions had a more difficult time ignoring the solicitations.|
|Salesmen were less aggressive in Florence than in Rome. Street vendors would still approach me but were not as frequently.||Street vendors were horrible. They would approach me and wouldn’t take no for an answer. One of my travel companions even took to yelling at a vendor who wouldn’t back off.|
So that’s it! I’m grateful I visited Rome, and I do think any Western traveler should visit there at least once, but once is definitely enough. I hope to go back to Florence one day, but I had enough of Rome!