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Italy Q&A: Quick Trip to Rome and Florence

Here’s another email question I received, so here’s another reply in the Italy Q&A series. Rebecca says:

i am coming to italy the 21 – 29 of march … not long i know … but i have wanted to go to italy ever since i could say “ciao bella!”

i’m flying into rome on the 21st. i want to stay a few days, then take a (train, plane, bus??) to florence, stay, soak it up and maybe spend one nite in a real tuscan village, then book it back to rome to catch my flight out the nite of the 29th.

any suggestions on what to do / see in florence and rome, the best way to get up to florence, and a cool little village that could be a day trip or a one – nite stay?

Thanks for the question, Rebecca! Rome and Florence are two of those “must-see” cities in Italy that everyone wants to see, so you’re hitting two biggies in a very short period of time. So remember two things – you’ll be overwhelmed by all the things to see, and you’ll have to tell yourself you’ll be back some other time to see the stuff you missed.

Keep in mind that Easter in Italy is on March 23rd this year, and it’s a huge holiday here – which means that both Rome and Florence will be crowded and probably more expensive as well. I hope you’ve already booked a place to stay in both of those cities, because finding a place now could be tricky!

There’s so much to see in Rome that you’ll probably have to limit yourself to a few highlights during such a short trip. The Vatican will have all its finery out because of the Easter holiday, so even though it’ll be seriously crowded it’s probably worth spending at least a half-day wandering around. Even if you don’t go to the Vatican Museums, you should probably walk through St. Peter’s (it’s free). You should also spend some time seeing what makes Rome the Eternal City – the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, which are conveniently right next to each other. If you need a break from the chaos of the city, take a stroll through the Trastevere neighborhood across the river from the Colosseum.

Getting around Rome is easy on the bus (get a map with bus stops marked on it from a news stand), and tickets are only €1 (good for 75 minutes of riding time). Read more about what to do in Rome before you go.

You can get a train from Rome to Florence – it’s a short trip, just over an hour and half, and you’ll need both a train ticket and a reservation (they’re fast trains, and require reservations).

Florence is one of my favorite Italian cities; I always feel more cultured just by walking around the old parts of the city. If you’re really into art, you’ll want to book a spot at the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia ahead of time, because the lines to get into each can eat up five hours or more. If you’re not as interested in galleries and just want to appreciate the art of the city itself, then you’re in luck – walking around is free! Check out more things to do in Florence.

Honestly, with such a short trip, I wouldn’t even recommend trying to fit in a night in a village – you’ll spend so much time getting there and back, you won’t really have the time to soak up the atmosphere before you’ll be back on a train or bus for your flight home. Instead, if you’re really wanting to get out of the city, I’d recommend a day trip from Florence or Rome to a smaller city or village. You won’t get the overnight experience, but you’ll get to see another side of the Italian personality. Towns you can do as a day-trip from Florence include Lucca, Siena and San Gimignano.

Have a great trip!