Rome vs. Florence? How to Choose Between Italy’s Most Popular Study Abroad Destinations

Italy is one of the world’s most popular study abroad destinations, and it isn’t hard to see why. With beautiful landscapes, delicious food, awe-inspiring architecture, and its proximity to other European countries for weekend getaways, Italy allows study abroad students to immerse themselves in its rich culture while they experience the adventure of a lifetime.

Gianicolo Hill, rome, studying abroad in Rome, Deciding where to study abroad, Studying abroad in Rome or Florence

The Gianicolo Hill overlooking the beautiful domes and rooftops of Rome

Florence, Gianicolo Hill, rome, studying abroad in Rome, Deciding where to study abroad, Studying abroad in Rome or Florence

Florence’s Duomo on a rainy day

Most students narrow their options down to Rome and Florence, two famous cities which are each incredible in their own way. Here are our (slightly biased!) tips on making your final decision for your semester abroad in Italy.

  1. History. Rome and Florence are a quick 1.5 hour train ride apart, yet their histories are quite different. Rome’s history spans thousands of years, and the remnants of its former empire are still visible across the entire city. Rome has been a great city of architecture, art, and culture throughout as part of the papal empire and as modern Italy’s capital, and you will be awestruck by the juxtaposition of ancient ruins, neoclassical churches, baroque apartment buildings, and cobblestoned streets. Florence also boasts a history dating back to the ancient romans, although the city is most famous for its status as the “cradle of the Renaissance.” Florence is world-renowned for its art, housed in the city’s several excellent galleries. You will experience history firsthand regardless of which city you choose, but if you wish to experience ancient history first-hand, Rome is the city for you.
  2. City size. Rome is a major European capital with a population of 3 million, while Florence is a smaller city with less than 400,000 inhabitants. This means that you may spend more time commuting in Rome, but it also means that you will never run out of neighborhoods to explore and places to see. Florence that can easily be navigated without public transportation and is a pleasure to explore by foot or bike. John Cabot University’s location in Rome, however, gives you the best of both worlds: our picturesque neighborhood of Trastevere offers a village environment, while located only minutes from the rest of Rome’s historic center.
  3. Travel. The saying “all roads lead to Rome” rings true today: traveling to and from Italy’s capital is easy, given Rome’s two airports, numerous train stations, and central location in Italy. Many discount airlines fly out of Rome, making travel throughout Europe simple and inexpensive. Florence is also home to multiple train stations that travel throughout Italy, although flying may be slightly less convenient than from Rome due to its airport’s small size. Traveling from Florence is certainly feasible, but it could be more time-consuming and costly for some destinations.
  4. Lifestyle. Both Rome and Florence offer beautiful scenery, fantastic museums, and world-famous restaurants. Rome offers more of a variety due to its size, but you will definitely find plenty to do in both cities. Cost of living is comparable: rent is typically more expensive in Rome, but food is usually more costly in Florence. Both cities are near to famous vineyards, mountains, lakes, and beaches, providing you with countless day trip possibilities. If you prefer big city living, Rome is definitely the best choice for you. If you prefer a smaller city, Florence could be a better fit.
  5. University options. Your study abroad university decision is important, as you not only need to take classes that your home university will accept toward your degree, but you also need to find an environment that fits your interests. Many study abroad programs and universities in both Rome and Florence are exclusively for Americans, meaning that you will be unlikely to befriend locals or make friends from other countries. With over 350 courses each semester and a student body representing 70 countries, including a large contingent of Italian students, John Cabot University’s unique study abroad program allows you to make friends from across the world and immerse yourself in Italian culture during a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience in Italy.

Interested in learning more about spending your semester abroad in Rome at John Cabot University? Visit our website to learn more!

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