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Venice or Rome?
April 4, 2009 5:10 PM   Subscribe

Venice or Rome?

A friend of mine, her spouse, and dog have the option of moving overseas for his job. His company is giving them two choices - Venice or Rome. I loved my stay in Italy, but I was in Florence, which doesn't help them much in choosing which city they would prefer. Which would you choose and why (bonus points for having actually lived in one place or the other)?

Particular things that may be factors in their decision:
* Ex-pats that live the area (for when you miss home)
* Number of English speakers (my friend doesn't speak Italian, so until she learns, being able to get by without it will be useful).
* Work opportunities. My friend isn't going to be able to transfer her job overseas, so finding some opportunity to stay busy (provided it's legal to do so) may be nice.
* Dog-sitting services/dog friendliness. They will be bringing their 70 lb American Bulldog with them.
* Friendliness of people--they'll be starting over socially, so how easy will it be to meet/befriend other 30-something childless couples?
* Travel opportunities - is it easier to visit Europe flying out from Rome or driving from Venice/flying from Milan?
* Character of the cities -- they are LA/NY/DC people, so is living in a smaller city like Venice going to be too slow-paced/boring for them?

Any other bits of advice are welcome too. Thanks in advance
posted by batcrazy to Travel & Transportation around Italy (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have been to both cities numerous time. I love Venice to death, but if I was moving, I'd go with Rome hands down.

Far easier to integrate with other people (due to its size, expat community, international vibe). Far easier to travel to other European hubs. Far more to do, way more job opportunities and better living accommodations.
posted by meerkatty at 5:20 PM on April 4, 2009

I lived in Italy for close to 20 years. I absolutely adore Venice, and am not especially fond of Rome, but I think that your friends would be much happier living in Rome. Travel, in particular, is much more convenient, and it definitely has the big city vibe that Venice lacks. Both are bursting at the seams with expats and English speakers, so that's not an issue, and Italy in general is a pretty pet-friendly place. It might be a bit easier to get to know Romans than Venetians, too, although of course that's going to vary depending on the specific people your friends happen to meet.
posted by Plinissima at 5:22 PM on April 4, 2009

Rome, but Venice is to die for. Live in Rome, travel to Venice.
posted by fifilaru at 5:28 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Rome, for a lot of the reasons already mentioned. I've only traveled there, but it's easier to get around, and has lots of options for traveling out everywhere else. Also, more to do. I wandered around to more far-flung locations in the city and was just fine despite not speaking any Italian.

I'm a native New Yorker and a total urban living kind of gal, and I fell in love with Rome. Travel to Venice, however, is a must.
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:36 PM on April 4, 2009

I've just visited the two, but as a New Yorker, unless they are wanting to slow down a bit, they want to be in Rome.
posted by saul wright at 5:48 PM on April 4, 2009

Venice is a very, very touristy town, and for that reason difficult to live in.

posted by piratebowling at 5:55 PM on April 4, 2009

I agree with everybody who says Rome, but visit Venice.

Not only is Venice touristy, but the Venetians are predominantly an older demographic, older than 30.
posted by subatomiczoo at 6:04 PM on April 4, 2009

I found Venezia to be touristy and expensive. Roma, on the other hand, was friendly and had an incredible depth of culture and history.
posted by kgn2507 at 6:04 PM on April 4, 2009

You go to Rome to live and be vital.

You go to Venice to just be.

Both are great, but they're means to different ends.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:16 PM on April 4, 2009

n-thing Rome, absolutely. As unique and wonderful and everything Venice is, all the venetians I know sooner or later moved to Mestre (which is the actual city, on the coast, and quite... unimpressive) due to a lot of factors, including stellar house prices, lack of services, the obvious logistic issues and huge costs for house maintenance. Also, Rome is about 20 times the size and population of Venice (and >100 times the insular part ), and the capital, which given your friends' wishes, all factor in.
posted by _dario at 6:25 PM on April 4, 2009

Rome FTW without a doubt. Even as tourist destinations I'd say Rome over Venice, but for living, certainly Rome too.

I have to say, despite the touristiness of Venice, I think it holds a certain charm that could make for an interesting life. I wandered off the path there and walked around the neighborhoods where there wasn't anything particularly touristy and got a feel of the rhythms of life for regular people who lived there - kids walking from school down a cobbled lane in their uniforms at lunchtime, a backhoe boat doing some construction along the canal, laundry hanging across the canal between buildings, the fishmongers in a piazza doing light trade in the morning as sea birds hung out nearby waiting to pilfer, workmen stopping into the cafe for an espresso break, regular people taking the vaporettos to work on their morning commute - I think it could be kind of nice in a small and quiet way. There was a sort of peace there away from the big spots, and what a unique place to be while it lasts. I've read about the older demographic, though, too, so it would be a different sort of scene. Lots of restrictions on upgrades in homes due to historic preservation, not a lot of mod cons inside, pricey, etc.

But yeah, Rome.
posted by Askr at 6:45 PM on April 4, 2009

ROME ROME ROME. I've lived in Rome and Florence (only traveled to Venice), but I think Rome is one of the most livable cities in the world. Trastevere is a great zone, but so are garbatella or st. paul outside the walls if they are willing to commute a bit more....

I am super jealous. Buona Fortuna to your friends!
posted by shrimpsmalls at 7:09 PM on April 4, 2009

Rome. Without question.

Venice is a great place to visit for a couple days. But it's a city on life support which is mainly important for historical reasons. It's no longer a relevant, vibrant, living city the way Rome is, was, and will be.
posted by Justinian at 7:35 PM on April 4, 2009

Nthing Rome, having lived there myself.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 7:43 PM on April 4, 2009

Wow! I had no idea this would be such a non-decision. I personally hated my experience in Rome (loved the history, but unlike most other places I visited in Italy, the Romans were rude) and loved my time in Venice (but did wonder if after a month there you'd be bored to tears as it is a big of a one-act city), but visiting and living there are two totally different things. FWIW, I think they would be put up in Mestre, not Venice proper if they chose that route.

Any other thoughts?
posted by batcrazy at 8:14 PM on April 4, 2009

It's pretty much assumed that you're talking about Mestre, as I can't imagine that anyone would actually live in Venice proper (how inconvenient would that be on a day-to-day level?) This further supports the case for Rome, as Mestre doesn't even have the benefits of Venice.

As you say, living and visiting are vastly different things. Romans are rude, no doubt. But if you give back as much as you get, you'll win deep respect, and it'll be smooth sailing from that point on. YMMV.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 8:31 PM on April 4, 2009


OK, I haven't been there, but IMHO Venice is depressing as hell because it's on the wane, young people moving away, most industry gone.. I'm stunned that tourists seem not to notice this. I visited as a tourist and found it.. a sad place for touristing, although things are always changing and likely the locals see it a different way.
posted by citron at 12:28 AM on April 5, 2009

^^ Sorry I'm not very clear. I haven't been to Rome. I have been to Venice and Florence, Florence is wonderful, Venice.. not so much.
posted by citron at 12:29 AM on April 5, 2009

I adore Venice. It's mythical to me. I thought once I visited I would get over my fascination, but instead it grew deeper. That's not to say that Venice can not be depressing. It can be, but so can Rome. And Venice does it in a much more beautiful way.

I'd live in Rome, but my heart would always be in Venice.

I'm stunned that tourists seem not to notice this.

I'm stunned you think tourists don't.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 2:36 AM on April 5, 2009

Rome, no question.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:17 AM on April 5, 2009

I've got an obvious bias, and while I love Venice, I haven't lived there & thus can't make an appropriate comparison. Going on the list
posted by romakimmy at 8:24 AM on April 5, 2009

Rome hands down. Venice is beautiful but it is run down with tourists and they are very difficult to get away from. Plus most of it's economy is tourism-based, while in Rome there are more diverse job opportunities.
posted by xyla2000 at 7:11 PM on April 5, 2009

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