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[personal profile] meanfreepath
I've started to think a little about what I'd like to do in the 5 full days I have (technically, Friday night to Thursday morning) I have to travel in Italy after the light scattering meeting. I'm certainly dividing my time between Florence and Rome -- indeed, while searching around, I found a steal of an air fare from Catania to Florence (significantly less expensive than the base train fare, not including a sleeper surcharge) and so I'll fly directly to Florence on Friday night (yes, I checked for flights to Pisa as well, which has the larger airport).

Right now I'm trying to decide how to apportion my time between Florence and Rome. In some sense it would be natural to spend two days in Rome and three in Florence. There's a ton I'd love to see in Florence, though -- the Uffizi by itself could easily be an all-day affair, and I don't know that I'd like to cram the rest of Florence's historical and architectural sites into one other day. Clearly there's a lot to see in Rome (easily a day in the Vatican City, not to mention the sites of Ancient Rome). But I'm kind of sensing that there's so much in Rome that spending either two or three days is going to feel a bit overwhelming regardless, whereas three full days in Florence might let take in a fair bit without having to run around like crazy.

Thoughts? The decision is complicated by a lot of places (like the Uffizi) being closed on Mondays.

Date: 2011-05-28 07:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maybe because I was there twice as long, but Rome made a much bigger impression on me--at least in terms of tourist sites--than Florence. I mean, when I think of Florence I think of the really filthy hostel I stayed in, an evening walk and gelato with Kyra, and standing on line for hours waiting to get in to museums while my sister whined that we were wasting our time--but not much about the museums themselves, except that Kyra and I enjoyed them and my sister was bored. Whereas in Rome I was basically alone (Kyra hadn't arrived in Italy yet, and my sister was drinking with other tourist kids at night and then sleeping late), so I have all of these memories of places to see.

In either city, I think more important than seeing the sites is just spending several hours--half a day at least--walking aimlessly. You'll see a bunch of the sites, too, that way. Especially in Rome where it's more about historic buildings than it is about art in museums. But just take in the city, get a feel for it, get a feel for how different it is than any city in America (and how different Rome and Florence are from each other--just walking around they feel very different from each other, even if they have things in common by virtue of being very old Italian cities).

In Rome you have to visit the Forum and its surroundings. It is conveniently located right next to the Colosseum. On the other side of the Forum is the current seat of government, which is interesting to walk past in its own right. And, as you say, you have to spend a day in the Vatican. If you're only there for two days, my suggestion is half a day walking around and getting lost, half a day at either the Vatican or the Forum/Colosseum, and a full day at the other. If you start your walk in the right place and get sufficiently lost, you might find the Trevi fountain; if you don't get lost you'll probably run across the Pantheon. Pretty much you can't go anywhere without hitting something interesting. My little sister and brother went to Rome for spring break two years ago, and spent the whole week just walking around aimlessly, and that was enough because they just kept running into famous landmarks. Oh, also don't forget to buy some gelato for walking around with. All the adults there eat gelato.

Florence needs half a day of walking around, and I guess a day at the Uffizi is reasonable, and otherwise just think of specific works you want to see, figure out which museums those are housed in, and visit those (and then I'm sure you'll find enough at each museum to keep your attention for quite a while more).

Date: 2011-05-28 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I second the vote for more time in Rome than Florence. Florence is wonderful, but Rome is much bigger and fuller. You could spend the entire 5 days there and feel like you've only scratched the surface. Reserve ahead for the Uffizi, and arrive early for the Vatican Museums; the lines for both get long.

In Florence, we stayed at the Hotel Globus ( In Rome, the Hotel Domus Tiberina ( in Trastevere. The Domus Tiberina is simple and charming, the Globus a little posher but still not too expensive. We liked them both.

Date: 2011-05-28 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I recommend spending a little bit more time in Rome as well. Florence is charming, but I think you can see most of the highlights in 2 full days (you'll feel a lot more rushed in Rome if you only spend 2 days). Lines for the Uffizi and Academia are much less painful if you reserve ahead of time (whereas you HAVE to spend the time in line for the Vatican).

Oh and a quick rec: If you don't mind hostels, the place I stayed at in Florence,, is absolutely charming and friendly and will make reservations for you at the museums. I met some very cool people there, too. Plus, the awesome view of the Duomo from their back balcony is real.


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August 2013


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