Not the Typical (Ugly) American Tourist (I hope).

James Charles

James Charles | March 16, 2024

Not the Typical (Ugly) American Tourist (I hope).


Ciao. Getting ready for our two-week trip to Northern Italy. Northern Italy you say. What about the rest of Italy?

Well, in due course.

A friend of mine recently went to Italy and did the typical, American 9 day, 10 night tour of Italy on a bus. “Bring down your luggage and be on the bus at 7:30,” the driver/tour guide says. “Here’s the Vatican … here’s the …” (fill in the blank). Then on to the next town, check into your hotel for the night and repeat the above.

When I was a teacher, before I became an administrator, I had the summers off. We rented a car and drove around one country at a time for five or six weeks. Stayed in B&B’s (before the air) and got lost in small villages.

In Ireland last year, we drove off the beaten path and stopped in a small village at a local pub. When we walked in, it felt like a scene out of a Hency Fonda western; the entire pub stopped their imbibing and conversing, turned to look at us—the bartender who was pouring a pint letting it runneth over. When I said we’re Americans! and that I recently found out I was 9% Irish, the patrons all whooped and hollered then “Sláinte;” drinks all ‘round! We settled in for a meal and everyone was so hospitable.

This is how you see a country (if you can). Rent a car, get out of the main tourist-trap areas, and see the people (country).

And the historical sights? We take our time. Read all the exhibits. Absorb all the history/culture. No, “Be back on the bus in one hour.” We go through the museum, or see the sight, then walk over to the small café or pub nearby and get a cappuccino or sample the local brew; talk to the locals. No “been there, done that.” Well, maybe, but …. And we try to speak a little of their language (tried a bit of Gaelic, but it didn’t go over so well).

So for our two-week trip to Northern Italy, yes, we’ll see the sights in Florence, Pisa, Milan and Venice, but we will also get lost in the countryside. Our B&B in Tuscany is halfway between Florence and Pisa in a small village. Our B&B in Veneto is in a small village thirty minutes north of Venice.

Then, next year we’ll hopefully go back to see more regions. I realize not everyone has the luxury of this approach, but if you can ….




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