From Florence to Venice – which Italian city is right for you?

We review the top five Italian cities so you can choose which is right for you.

From Florence to Venice – which Italian city is right for you?

SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. Her favourite place in the world so far is Positano, where she spent most of her time enjoying the view from her balcony at Hotel Buca Di Bacco.

A trip to Italy is an easy inclusion on any European holiday. Arguably the best country in Europe, if not the world (yes, I'm 100 per cent biased), it's not a difficult itinerary decision to make.

What is, however, slightly more confusing is where you should go once you're there. Shaped like a rather large boot – definitely an over-the-knee – the country quite literally has something for everyone. So how do you decide which Italian city is for you?

Having recently spent some time in Florence I have now been to the 'big five' Italian cities. So I thought it only fair to help shed some light so you can choose the best Italian city for you.

couple dancing in the streets of rome italy

The heart of Italy, Rome may be the capital but don't hold that against it. There's no disputing the fact it's a tourist trap, however, it's also home to some of the more beautiful attractions. Among them are the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and the Spanish Steps, all of which are worth the bun fight to see. With great shopping, Rome is one of those places where you don't need dining suggestions as it is safe to stumble upon things on your own. All around the city there is a high calibre of food, coffee and culture.

palazzo vechhio florence

The Tuscan capital is much smaller than Rome but just as beautiful. With the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore as it's jaw-droppingly beautiful centrepiece, it's the ideal city to visit if you've only got a few days. Florence has great shopping (especially leather), coffee, food, gelato and plenty of sights to see, and it is the perfect gateway to the rest of Tuscany. It especially outshines nearby Pisa, which lacks culture unless you'd like a clichéd tourist shot of you pushing over a leaning tower.

shopping in milan

One of those places you either love or hate, I fall into the latter category. Despite visiting Milan on multiple occasions,I find the city far too industrial. That said, it does have a picturesque centre featuring the Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Eating and drinking can be expensive and a tad hit and miss, so it's best to do your research beforehand or go armed with suggestions. If you're headed to Como, Milan is easily the best city from which to get there.

gondola in vnice

Another Italian city overrun by tourists, Venice is still worth a visit at least once for the unique floating factor. While the gondola rides are a rip off to say the least, you can live like a local and use the ferries to get around. The locals are, understandably, a bit over tourists, so it's better to know in advance where to go for good food if you want to avoid the average service provided to the masses. If you're considering a cruise, Venice is an ideal port to include as you get the memorable experience of approaching the city by water.

naples streets

A city that gets a pretty unflattering rap, Naples isn't all bad. The best choice for travelling to the Amalfi coast, Naples is known for its pizza. The city has plenty of character from it's pretty port and the 13th Century Castel Nuovo to the traditional street life in its narrow winding streets. The city reveals a glimpse of Italian life different from the other main cities. While I wouldn't suggest basing a holiday around it, it was well worth the 24 hours we spent there.

While any Italian city will offer good coffee, food, wine, architecture, shopping and a taste of of the coveted la dolce vita, they aren't all created equal. Identifying what you want most out of your trip will help you choose the best option and avoid.

Travelling around is simple thanks to a great train network. Last year, we used Rome to bookend our Como trip despite Milan being much closer. The two days in the capital were well worth the scenic route in order to avoid visiting an industrial city that neither of us enjoy much. Life is too short to spend time in places that don't inspire you to leap out of bed.

Which is your favourite Italian city and why?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    9th Sep 2017
    Rome and Milan are good fir a singke visit..but Parma is a jewel. Easily accessible via rail.giid NH hotel bridges the railway station, walk to the city. Economic and delightful. Lovely Teatro, amd lively areas fed by the stidents of the old university on the other sude of the city. Strongly tecconened after tge costs and crush of Florence..
    9th Sep 2017
    I've been to 3, Rome which is full of fascinating history and yes great food,having had the most delicious veal scallopine ever. Florence , although full of beautiful buildings and culture and the best Gelato in my life, didn't rock my boat. My jaw dropping experience i have to say was Venice as we arrived via water taxi from the airport and my first glimpse was stunning. It continued to entrance me as we avoided the tourist traps and wandered the tiny cobbled laneways each day. There are plenty of little unpretentious eateries if you look for them . Just explore. We stayed in a family run centuries old hotel which I'm sure was haunted. No mod cons but exquisite old furniture and fittings. Experiences are what you make of them.
    9th Sep 2017
    Been to 4 of them When in Rome do go and wander around the Pallentine - across the road from the Collaseum. Worth the effort. Milan, do book to see The Last Supper. You need a booking to get in. Best stepping off place for Como. We stayed across the lake from Como and had a wonderful holiday. Venice - use the commuter gondola - good fun and way way cheaper than the overpriced tourist ones. Take a boat across to Murano for the day. Florence - do go up the hill and look over the city - beautiful. In Florence to go to some of the leather shops rather than the market stalls as probably cheaper and better quality. Hopefully I'll be visiting Naples next year!
    9th Sep 2017
    We loved our Italian visit last year. Our favourite was Florence , but Rome and Venice were also wonderful. A day trip from Rome to Pompeii was also a highlight. Loved all the history.
    I suggest visitors look up the walking tours in each city. They are a great inexpensive way to learn the history and get tips from locals. Most are free with a tip suggested for the guide.
    Our Rome guide was an archaeologist who had worked on the Forum excavation. His insight and history knowledge was amazing.
    10th Sep 2017
    Visited Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan in that order via the trains. Rome has the dirtiest underground railway ever, and dark and dingy, and you take your life in your hands when attempting to cross the road, even when the traffic lights are in your favour!!. Florence is really nice with that view from the Piazetta di Michelangelo up on the hill. The Cathedrale, Il Duomo is stunning ; it took a 140 years to build, so make it worth their while by going to see it, and enjoyed the visit to the Accademia to see the David by Michelangelo( Please, it is NOT Michaelangelo. His Christian name is pronounced Mickelangelo, surname Buonarotti ). Venice, yes go there and get lost wandering around the alleys, best way to see Venice. The food is good, but service variable. It is expensive ($30 for Latte and iced coffee , the default piano player raising the cost, in the Piazett San marco )

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles