There is something special about Italy that makes you feel as though you have already visited a thousand times. Perhaps it is because the cities have been immortalized in pictures and movies, or maybe it’s because the art, history and architecture have stood the enduring tests of time that merit stories like myths, that we find ourselves drawn to places such as Italy to discover on our own what Baroque, Renaissance and ancient times truly looked like. Unfortunately, if you are planning a trip on time constraints, you have probably already come across the conundrum of Venice or Rome. Those lucky enough to not need to choose will experience some of the richest culture and history of Europe, but if you must decide between the two, it is up to your own preferences which city holds the most value.
The quintessential picture of romance, Venice is an unforgettable experience whether you’re traveling with someone you love or simply find travel a romance of its own. The gondolas with men in hats navigating winding canals, the fine restaurants and exquisite castles are all part of what makes Venice a unique city. Many of the mainland attractions can be visited on foot, but if you purchase a pass on arrival, you will be able to get to the attractions on the surrounding islands for relatively cheap as well. Make sure to check out the Rialto Bridge, which is the oldest in Venice, and the famous St. Mark’s Square, home to San Mark’s Basilica, the Clock Tower and Doge’s Palace.
The square is surrounded by old coffee houses and sidewalk cafes, so take time to relax and soak up the culture when you’re there. Another sight you won’t want to miss is the Palazzo Ducale. With it’s large staircases, ancient marbled flooring, and complex mosaics, the palace is one of the oldest displays of Gothic architecture to be found in Venice. There are a large number of castles, museums, religious sites and old neighborhoods to wander, so plan ahead the landmarks you would like to see, otherwise, you will quickly become sidetracked by all the antique architecture and widespread pieces of art.
Simply setting your sights on Rome is enough to make you feel as if you’ve been there a hundred times. From St. Peter’s Basilica with the underlying vaults, through the square and onto the Vatican Museums, where you will find the Sistine Chapel, all of these landmarks are part of what make Rome a unique trip. Although it has been captured and photographed in time throughout the ages, it isn’t until you see it for yourself that you can truly appreciate the grandiose spectacle that is the city streets of Rome. Of course, there’s no missing the Colosseum and Pantheon, but if you can wind your way through the renaissance gardens and find the Via Sacra road, you will be able to wander toward the Campidoglio buildings designed by Michelangelo during the renaissance to serve as senatorial buildings.
The architecture alone is enough to keep your eyes up on the buildings and soon find yourself lost, so carry a map with you or brush up on your Italian to ask the locals how to get back. Enjoy the dozens of local museums, take in the magnificent works of art that pave the streets, and stroll through gardens and plazas all day long to get the true experience of life in Rome. By the end of the day, make sure that you visit the famous Trevi fountain and find a nice, quiet restaurant to sip a glass of wine and enjoy some true Italian cuisine.
While all of these facts and tips may have just made it more difficult to choose which city to spend the majority of your time in, remember that cuisine and cultural experience are basically the same, so your decision should be based on what moment you want to capture for yourself. Is it the famous Sistine chapel, hand painted by Michelangelo himself, or the romantic winding canals and grand palaces of Venice? Perhaps you can’t make up your mind and decide that Florence or Milan are right for you. What ever you choose to do, Italy is rich in landmarks, culture and a certain romantic feeling that can only be found through a trip of your own.