Belle Epoque, Renaissance or Ancient Ruins?



Should I live in Paris, Rome or Florence?

The decision has been made that I will be living in Europe for a year, but I cannot decide whether I want to live in Paris, Rome or Florence. My gut says Rome, but my family's slight aversion to Rome has made me consider Florence. I have stayed away from the idea of Paris because I was born there, so I don't consider it new, but it is still a very viable option. So far my brother, my grandmother, and my grandfather all prefer Florence to Rome while two of my cousins prefer Rome to Florence. And of course my parents are pushing for Paris since they lived there for a few years. This tale of three cities is becoming too close to call. Here is my current inner debate that I am having with myself at the moment as to where I would like to spend a year.

St. Peter's


When I first visited Rome, I immediately fell in love. There was so much history that I am so interested in that I couldn't help but love the place! Trevi Fountain? Loved it! Vatican? Loved it! Colosseum? Loved it! I can say the only thing that I didn't love were the men shoving flowers in my face (and sometimes too close to my chest) to get me to buy them. When I imagine myself spending a year in Italy, I see myself in Rome. I see myself visiting the ancient ruins on a monthly, or even weekly, basis. I can see myself taking the metro (if I absolutely have to) to get from one place to another. But, I also have realized that the area that I stayed in Rome is a really nice area. We were walking distance from the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Knowing this, I will probably need a reality check if I were going to live there. Most areas will not have their neighborhood Gucci or Dior to add some sparkle to the Roman streets.

What I like about Rome was that it is a big city that does not feel like a big city to me. There was no majorly tall architecture that made me feel claustrophobic. While some streets were narrow, I did not feel closed in and I felt like I could move around freely. But big cities are expensive and in order to afford to live there, I would need to live in cheeper areas, which means they are not as nice as the area that I stayed in. I would really need to consider what my priorities are and if I would still be in love with Rome in the not-so-hot-spots. 

The Duomo 


When I first visited Florence, I was not in the best of moods, which is why I did not appreciate all that it has to offer. Of course I thoroughly enjoyed the Duomo and the David, but after that my mood went down hill and sometimes I wrongly blame it on Florence. To me, it was too hot, too crowed, and my interest in the Renaissance is significantly less than it is for ancient ruins. I did not give Florence a fair chance when comparing it to other cities. When asked if I wanted to visit the Uffizi Gallery, I passively said "I'm good." Looking back now, the historian in me is scolding me and telling to suck it up, how often does one find themselves in Florence, examining the focal-point of the Renaissance? Poor Florence.

Now I am considering Florence more because I realized that I did not appropriately take in what it has to offer. I am considering it to be fair but also to make sure that I am not just making a quick decision by choosing Rome. I always like to fully research something before I make a decisions. I want to consider all of my options first. Florence is closer to Tuscany, which is where my Italian heritage comes from and I will have easier access to family and those small Tuscan towns that I love. It is also not as large as Rome and I do hate big cities. I will be able to walk around the city with less of a problem and will have less opportunities for me to get lost (emphasis on the word less). It also does have ties to ancient Roman architecture while also having the Renaissance, which interests me because it ties in two completely different portions of European history. While Florence had very narrow streets crowded with people, it seemed fairly easy to walk from one side of the city to another. What I need to find out more of is what is transportation like in Florence? How easy is it to fly in and out of the airport since I plan on visiting other countries? What about the train station's access to other countries? I know significantly less about Florence than I do about Rome so I need to look into it more.

Ecole Militaire


When studying history, I have always been fascinated from the 19th Century and those following it, and for some reason, Paris is at the heart of it. Every time I have visited France, Paris is always one of my top destinations, even if it is only for a day. It is true what they say, there is something truly magical about Paris. While both Florence and Rome offer me the Italian culture and something completely new, Paris offers me the comfort of the culture that I am somewhat familiar with. Paris has always offered me the excitement that I would want to live in a large city.

The problem that I have been having with Paris is that it is not exactly new to me. In some aspects it is because I only visit for a day or two with my parents and have limited experiences. But in most ways, I can already navigate around the city with ease, especially since I speak the language. Right now I am viewing this more as a backup plan than an actual option because I really want to go outside the box and try something completely out there rather than something most people would expect of me.

One last look

I have decided to take one last look at both Italian cities before I make my final decision since I have recently visited Paris. I will spend an equal amount of days in both cities while looking at the art, the history, and some possible locations for me to live in. I will keep an open mind while also being ultra-critical. By doing this I will hopefully figure out where I want to live in Italy but also to challenge myself to travel for the first time without my family. If I cannot survive a one to two week trip without them, then I don't know how I am going to live in a foreign country for a year, making France a more viable option.

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