Italy has no shortage of amazing cities to visit and if you are lucky enough to be planning a trip to Italy, you might just find yourself wondering; which city should I go to? Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa, Verona, Naples? The obvious answer, of course, is all of them but if you only have a short visit in mind I would narrow it down to two of my favourites; Rome or Venice.
I have to confess that I have a thing for Italy. It was the first country that I travelled to on my own when I was 16 and it has had a hold over me ever since. I love the culture and especially the language which is without a doubt the most beautiful language in the world. And I have a degree in languages, I should know! Of course there is also the food, the morning cappucinos, gelatos..What’s not to love?
Rome and Venice are both excellent choices for a city break but they are quite different. Here’s a little comparison to help you decide!
For me this is a no brainer, Venice is more romantic. Rome has nice areas to walk around at night time and plenty of little restaurants for candlelit dinners but in my opinion that’s it. Venice on the other hand has over a hundred canals that make the city feel almost magical and because there are no cars (boats only!) it’s a lot quieter and more intimate than Rome with its chaotic traffic. And of course if you feel like paying around $80 you can get the ultimate movie moment and glide down the canals on a gondola. But serenades cost extra!
The truth is you can’t avoid history anywhere in Italy even if you tried. And if you tried, well, you probably shouldn’t go to Italy in the first place. Both Rome and Venice have left their mark on the history books, just mostly in a different era. Rome obviously has world famous Roman history and archaeology sites and it really is quite a weird feeling to look at the Colosseum and think that this structure has been there for 2000 years! Rome also has the Vatican and the comprehensive Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel – Places that are a must see. The historical sites alone could keep you busy for days!
Venice has had its fair share of historical events and it was a major player in the medieval trade market serving as the hub between the east and the west. The Venetian Empire ruled the area and Venice was a wealthy city which can be seen in the architecture still today. There are gorgeously beautiful buildings like the St Mark’s Basilica and many many more. The history of Venice is maybe a little less mind blowing compared to Rome but it’s a fascinating historic city nonetheless.
UNESCO World Heritage Site status
Like so many places in Italy both these cities are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. The cities don’t have just a few UNESCO listed sites in the city though, the cities themselves are the reason for the designation. That’s pretty neat, I think!
Out of town day trips
If you have some extra days that you would like to spend outside the city of your choice, there are definitely good options out there. From Rome you could take a train to Naples and have some pizza napoletana and see if there is truth to the famous line ‘To see Naples and die!’. A visit to the world famous Pompeii might also be on your list, although it would make a long day trip. An overnight trip or a very long day trip to the beautiful island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast is possible too, although this area would deserve more than a day of your attention!
Venice doesn’t pale in comparison when it comes to out of town day trips. Probably the most popular visit to add to your Venice itinerary is one or all of the nearby islands of Murano, Burano and Morcello – a nice combination of glass making, cute colourful houses along canals and mosaics. One of the most romantic cities in the world, Verona, is only one and a half hours away and is an especially fitting addition to a romantic holiday in Venice. A picturesque medieval town of Treviso and nearby Vicenza known for its renaissance architecture are less than an hour away and easily reachable by train.
Is one more expensive than the other? Probably. Venice is smaller so there are fewer hotels and there is a steady supply of visitors so the prices tend to stay pretty high. Rome is spread out on a much larger area and has more variety in terms of accommodations which usually means you can find them a little cheaper. A tip for those who want to visit Venice without paying ludicrous amounts for a villa by the Canal Grande; accommodation is considerably cheaper in nearby Mestre which is just 10km away. You can reach Venice by a water taxi or by using the bridge across the water.
And the winner is..
For romance: Venice!
For history: All roads lead to Rome
For out of town trips: Venice only because many sites are closer and easier to visit
Costs: Rome -Although the difference won’t be huge
Clearly you cannot go wrong no matter which city you choose, but which one wins in your opinion? My vote, in case you didn’t guess it yet, goes to Venice for the simple reason that I really want to see the Carnival in the winter. I’ve also visited Rome more recently so I think a trip to Venice is almost overdue. And who am I kidding; Venice is one of my favourite European cities-It would take quite a bit to top that! (Sorry Rome, you never stood a chance).