Rome, Florence, and Venice have signaled that they're ready to welcome visitors again after the pandemic lull—though residents understandably prefer the sort of measured tourism that boosts local economies without resulting in unaffordable housing or drunk people in fountains.
It remains to be seen whether those ills of overtourism will return or local government leaders can find a better balance this time.
But what's still as clear as the pandemic-era Venetian Lagoon is why these destinations exert such a pull on travelers in the first place—the art, the architecture, the culture, the cuisine, the cityscapes so beautiful they make you want to start blubbering into your gelato.
This week, our newest release, Frommer's EasyGuide to Rome, Florence & Venice, becomes available at bookstores and online booksellers. The guide has been fully re-researched for 2022 to provide everything travelers need to plan an unforgettable vacation in one or more (or all three?) of these storied cities.
We caught up with the book's authors—Elizabeth Heath, Stephen Keeling, and Donald Strachan—to get their takes on why now is a great time to wander amid Rome's ruins, linger in the piazzas of Florence, and navigate (relatively) uncrowded canals in Venice.
Their responses follow.
For visitors to Italy, Rome is the most common entry point but I think it's also the best introduction to the country and the best refresher for return travelers. The city is easy to navigate (just use the massive Vittorio Emanuele II monument as your point of reference) and almost all the major sights are reachable on foot.
And while there are surely museums, monuments, and attractions that visitors should check off their lists, Rome is just one of those splendid cities in which to slow down, wander around, and get lost—in part because you can't get too lost and in part because there's so much beauty and history at every turn. Walk through a warren of narrow streets and then boom!—you've tumbled out onto the Pantheon. Your tram stop? Right near the spot where Caesar was assassinated. That pretty fountain in the middle of a busy piazza? It's a Bernini, thanks.
(Cats lounge at Largo di Torre Argentina, where Julius Caesar was killed | Credit: Sophie Lenoir / Shutterstock)
No matter how many times I'm in Rome, those experiences never get old. Food-wise, of course, it's all here—with great places for pizza, gelato, pasta, and all the tastes you come to Italy for, plus street food specialties and gorgeous produce markets. A spate of stylish new hotels is giving the ancient city a fresh and modern vibe, with openings of W Rome, Soho House, The Hoxton, and Mama Shelter injecting some Millennial and Gen Z energy into the mix.
So, yes, Rome changes with the times, yet it always delivers the iconic experiences that visitors seek, and it's always a good choice for travelers. After all, they don't call it the Eternal City for nothin'. —Elizabeth Heath
The beauty of visiting Florence over the next few months is that you’ll find life lived outdoors. Piazza-front cafes, rooftop cocktail bars, and outdoor restaurant tables are buzzing. Bars everywhere spill over onto the steps of nearby churches.
Global travel may have stood still for two years, but Florence’s tourism infrastructure did not. The transformation of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo into one of Europe’s great treasures has been ongoing since 2015—that work quietly continues. A pandemic-interrupted restoration of a major Michelangelo sculpture is complete. The final set of bronze doors from the Baptistery is now on display in an extraordinary re-creation of the Cathedral Square.
If the Uffizi wasn’t down the road—and David around the corner—the Duomo's art museum would be much better known. Still, word is getting out. Get there while there are no lines. The museum's relaunched multisite ticket offers three levels of admission.
(Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence | Credit: vvoe / Shutterstock)
Arrivals before July 31 should also add the Palazzo Strozzi to their must-see lists in Florence. This Renaissance palace-turned-exhibition-space is hosting a landmark show on sculptor Donatello, with major works on loan from around Italy, Berlin, Boston, and London.
Florence has always been an art lover’s city. In 2022, it’s better than ever. —Donald Strachan
With the Venice tourist juggernaut gradually beginning to rev up again after Covid (the Venice Carnival returned this year after a two-year hiatus), 2022 is a great time to visit La Serenissima. The pandemic hit the city’s massive tourist industry very hard, though some of the side effects—calm waters, tranquil piazzas, crystal-clear canals (with fish!)—were welcomed by the local population, and cruise-ship traffic in particular is set to be controlled going forward.
(The Grand Canal in Venice | Credit: S-F / Shutterstock)
Though visitor numbers are rising again, they are nowhere near 2019 levels, meaning now is the time to see Venice—with everything open but minus the heaving crowds in St. Mark’s Square, the mighty Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Accademia, and the city’s enchanting churches. You are likely to see some bargains (relatively speaking—this is still Venice) when it comes to hotels and dining, and a warmer welcome than usual, at least into 2023. —Stephen Keeling
Frommer's EasyGuide to Rome, Florence & Venice is available now in paperback and e-book editions.