Bad vibes in Italy

Jul 10th, 2000, 09:54 PM
  #1  
julie
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Bad vibes in Italy

I have been to Italy several times, and, by coincidence, have had a negative experience eact time. Lake Como was so poluted (the air) that we could hardly see, ditto Milan, where the fog and smog was so thick we could hardly see to drive, Florence was very crowded and dirty on the day we were there, and the canals in Venice stank unbelievably. Now I know that many folks just love Italy, above all other places, and I would like to hear what they liked and the good experience they might have had. My husband wants to go back (says we have not seen the good parts) but I get a deja vue feeling whenever we talk about it. Too bad for me, huh? Please help me get over this.
 
Jul 10th, 2000, 10:49 PM
  #2  
russ
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Julie,

By coincidence, every time I go to Italy I see amazing art and architechture; enjoy beautiful countryside; and eat delicious meals.

I am not trying to refute your experience, but you must remember that Italy is a real living country, with problems like all the rest, including crowds and pollution. There are ways, however, of minimizing their effect on your travels.

My first suggestion is not to go during the summer. I would not set foot in Florence during the summer. Also, I have been to Venice 6 times, and the only time it smelled was in August. Try early spring or late fall. The weather is crisp, the air is clean and the crowds are fewer.

My second suggestion is to do a search on this forum for Italy Off the Beaten Path. You will find lots of great suggestions for places that, I hope, will create a better impression than you have experienced so far. Good luck.
 
Jul 10th, 2000, 11:58 PM
  #3  
Christine
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Julie,

I am fortunate to live only 2 hours from the border of Italy and get there as often as I can. Most of the haze you observed in the Lake Como area is not pollution but rather an effect of the topography of the area and humidity (lake surrounded by mountains). Most mountain areas develop a hazy appearance.

As Russ mentioned, summer is not the best time to visit Italy. I think the best time to travel to Italy is May and September/October (I have never had a problem with smelly canals in Venice). You don't mention if you have ever visited any rural areas?

Some people just don't like cities (For the most part I fall into that category, I loathe Florence, but love Venice and Verona though-but not when it's really hot out). Last year we spent a week in a farmhouse in Tuscany and loved it (we watched them harvest the grapes), Cinque Terre is lovely, ditto for Amalfi. We also spent a great week hiking in the Dolomites.

Maybe you won't be one of those people who fall in love with Italy (as I have) but it would be HORRIBLE if EVERYONE liked the same exact places. Imagine how crowded it would be then! If you list some of your interests, maybe some Foderites can steer you towards places that better suit you.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 02:24 AM
  #4  
sera
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I was last in Florence two years ago in late May and found it depressing - the crush of tourists, lack of nightlife, etc. Stay out of the tourist meccas - and go further south - to really enjoy Italy.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 02:45 AM
  #5  
Paige
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Florence is busy, noisy and crowded but I just love it! For me, the food and museums make up for the rest. Try some smaller towns, like Siena and the cinque terre. Verona is really nice and not so touristy. And don't go in the summer when everyone else in creation is there!
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 03:56 AM
  #6  
Mary Ann
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Julie - the first time we went to Italy a few years ago in October I too hated it. The drivers were rude creating lanes that were not there, traffic circles were crushing, tunnel aphixiating (spelling) pollution was so bad, traffic signs missing most areas, restaurants rude (everything you ever heard about Paris is wrong it applies to Rome), Florence our car was impounded, always had to carry Kleenex for the washroom, food was not the best (probably because I had problems ordering) Capri was great but Rome, Florence, Naples you could keep. I too really never wanted to go back. But last year we were going to Prague, Budapest, Vienna and on the way to France I really did want to see Venice.
I just LOVED it. It was later September, we stayed in a small hotel in Accademia right on the canal, our heads were probably 15 feet from the edge of the grand canal. We never once smelled the water. Because of my concerns we only booked two nights, I wish we would have planned more. Food was fantastic, Venice after dark is very special, sunrise over the canal is special also. Early morning and after 4pm are the best before the tour buses and cruise ships arrive. Most people were friendly.
The Moral - time of year you go and where you stay is really important, weather helps too! Venice in brilliant sunshine during the day and cool nights was truly magical. Do alot of research and give it another try!
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 04:03 AM
  #7  
Diann
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I don't know quite how to say this, but I have only travelled internationally as a more or less mature adult, and have found the wonder of seeing life in other countries to far overwhelm the less attractive aspects I may encounter. Not to sound too much like a Pollyanna, but I travel with an open mind and can't wait to become a part of daily life in the country I visit. My family recently returned from a brief visit to Rome and its countryside; we feel grateful and lucky that we had the opportunity! It would be easy to say that yes, Rome can be hot and crowded and noisy, but there is no way that we would allow any brief discomforts to color our enjoyment of an incredible place filled with incredible people.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 04:26 AM
  #8  
J T Kirk
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I also agree with some of what's been said. The heat, and humidity, can really put a damper on a vacation. When I was there this past June, it was HOT. And yes, there were lots of people in Florence and Rome. All and all, though, I found the people there pleasant. Despite several warnings I had received, I found driving through Italy to be much like driving anywhere, i e, no real problems. I didn't have any problems with pickpockets or crime. To me the train stations in Florence and Rome are just like the train stations in the big U.S. cities-- throngs of people, some rude, some not. I saw some wonderful architecture, great ruins, and Cinque Terre was breathtaking (although I expect that area to be really hard hit with tourists over the next few years). Will I go back to Italy? Yes. Will I pick sometime OTHER than summer? YES!
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 04:43 AM
  #9  
elaine
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Julie
Everyone has different likes and dislikes so maybe Italy just isn't for you, but maybe you haven't seen it under the best conditions. If you went in the summer, surely the crowds, heat, and dirt were at their worst. You mention being in Florence for one day; day tripping can be tiring,
frustrating, and not conducive to exploring the charms and treasures of a place.
My trip to Venice was in early October, not a bad smell to be smelled, and the crowds not bad at all. I had never thought that anyplace could be a rival for France in my heart, but Italy was.
I do have to add that I've never heard
overwhelmingly positive recommendations about spending much time in Milan.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 04:57 AM
  #10  
howard
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I, too, picked up on your comment about spending only one day in Florence. Though I do not question your statements, I find it hard to beleve that you've only spent one day in Flornce though you've been to Italy several times. Could part of your negative feelings about Italy be the result of poor planning?
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 05:35 AM
  #11  
Don
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Wow-how people can go to the same place and get a different impression. We love Italy. It did not appear dirty or stink at all. I did hear one lady say that she thought the whole country needed a coat of paint. I guess she wanted all of it to look new instead of true to form. All is us is new compared to Italy so you can't judge it that way. I stayed away from Milan-big industrial city. We love it.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 05:43 AM
  #12  
Debi
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We recently went went to Italy and Greece - May of this year. We stayed in Rome, Venice - and also went by Lake Como - as well as a few other Italian towns (unfortunately, we did not get to Florence). We got to Rome on the 13th of May - and if you've had bad times there, I would highly recommend this time to go. Every flower in Italy was in full bloom. It wasn't hot, there was no pollution, the canals in Venice had no smell at all and things didn't seem all that crowded. Of course there was a line at the Vatican - but we really only waited about 30 minutes to get in. At the Statue of Liberty, the wait was 3 hours last time I was there - so I was really happy with our Italian experiences. Now Athens was another story..... But we loved Italy! I truely believe it was the springtime though. How can any place seem bad when it is covered with gorgeous flowers? The city was clean, air was comfortable, people weren't cranky, food was great (gelato, gelato, gelato - sorry, I digress..) and the history was beyond belief. But if you don't want to go back - you could always try Austria and Switzerland - they're also unbelieveable. I just wouldn't go anywhere in the middle of the summer.....
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 07:29 AM
  #13  
BOB THE NAVIGATOR
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Well, I see a consistent theme here.
As I have been saying for years, the
best advise is to pick your destination
based upon time of year, and stay out
of the big cites every chance you get.
Big cities in the summer are not my
favorites either---nuff said.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 08:40 AM
  #14  
Lesli
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Just about all of Italy is beautiful to me. (Milan might be the one exception.) But I've always given myself enough time to explore the smaller streets and local neighborhoods, in addition to "seeing the sights." My favorite parts of both Rome and Florence are the areas on the "other" side of the rivers, where it is quieter and you see more daily life going on. Every corner has its hidden treasures - a madonna, a fountain, a charming windowbox.... Even the smallest church in the smallest town has a beautiful fresco. These are the things that make me love Italy!
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 09:18 AM
  #15  
julie
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As a post script, we were only in Florence one day due to the tour we were with. We stood outside in the plaza and looked at a "copy" of the "David" as we were told it was too "crowded" in the museum...very frustrating. We stayed in Milan two days (about 6 years ago) at a very expensive hotel. It cost us more to park our car than the hotel, and the sheets were so infiltrated with smell of smog that one could hardly breath. Walked to a "recommended" restaurant and were served a luke warm dish of spagetti for about $100 american (that was 6 years ago.) Tried to cross the street and the traffic was so irratic that I was afraid to step in to the cross walk. I said, "how am I going to get accross the street.?" He said "just follow the little old ladies." I said "there are no little old ladies.!" Well, I am sure I will go again, and I have been almost everywhere in the world (except S. america) so I am definitely not soured on the idea of going there again...incidentally, I feel the way some of you described about the south of France. It would be one of the two places I would love to live (if I could only learn their language). It is incrediable. Thanks everyone for your input.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 01:09 PM
  #16  
howard
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Why didn't you ever go back to Florence on subsequent trips? Just curious. Also, did you spend two days in Milan on the same trip that spent only a day in Florence? If so, I'm not impressed with the itinerary of that tour!
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 02:26 PM
  #17  
julie
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Howard: I have not had an opportunity to go back to Florence: have been to Scandanavia, Portugal(again), France, Nova Scotia, and a few other exciting places...as I said, I was less than impressed the first time, and first impressions are lasting impressions, unfortunately. We were in Milan on business so that was the limit of our stay on that occasion. As I said at first, I need to go to Italy again, with a different reference, and find out for myself what everyone likes about it.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 06:41 PM
  #18  
prefer
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Julie-You said a four letter word "TOUR". I found that I am happy with my vacations when I make the itinerary myself, when I pick a hotel based on mine and my family's needs, set a time frame that accommodates the different styles of each member of my family, make a reasonable plan that accommodates their different appetities for food and activities. When someone else sets up a "tour" or plan, it is easier to be unhappy about it, than if you do it yourself. Your discoveries are your own, and your mistakes are your own. It takes time to make your own arrangements, but I think you will be much happier.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 07:00 PM
  #19  
Cheryl Z.
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We just came home from a trip, maybe our 4th or 5th, to Italy, this time to the lakes region, including Como and Milan and absolutely loved it. Beautiful, clear weather, terrific food, ambiance, people - nothing but "good vibes". And I can't wait to go back.
 
Jul 11th, 2000, 07:04 PM
  #20  
russ
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Prefer has an excellent point. I was living in Bologna when a couple cousins were passing through Florence on a packaged tour of Italy (Rome, Pompeii, Assisi, Siena, Florence, Perugia and Venice in 8 days - what a nightmare.)

I took the train down to Florence to join their group of 90(!) for dinner. The tour company had booked the entire restaurant. It was absolutely the worst meal I had in my 2 years in Italy. For dessert they passed out little plastic cup of prepackaged ice cream. Since I don't eat dairy, I asked for something else and was brought a nice fruit salad (it helped that I speak Italian). The room was abuzz when it arrived. I think it was the fresh fruit anyone had seen all week.

Julie, go back on your own. It will make a world of difference.
 

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