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Kate Mar 8th, 1999 03:59 PM

With all the Y2K renovation, is Italy worth visiting this year?
Hello Fodorites, I just talked to an acquaintance returning from Rome this past week. She said it's covered in scaffolding ... not even worth the visit right now. She swore she wouldn't return to Italy for at least a year and a half until the Millennium construction is completed (and the millions of visitors pass through). Does anyone else feel the same way? Is this just Rome? Or is this all cities? I was originally planning a long trip in September ... but I may rethink my plans based on your responses. I don't want the scaffolds to mar the beauty of the country and my visit.

Michael Mar 8th, 1999 07:51 PM

Hi Kate....I was just there in November and your friend is about right. Much of the sites in Rome are covered in Scaffolding including St Peter's Bassilica in the Vatican and the Colloseum. I was very dissappointed. Sure messed up what would of been some nice pics. Same in Pisa. (Pisa's barely worth visiting anyway) Not much in Florence though (however one cathedral actually had scaffolding marring much of it's INTERIOR). But I saw none in Venice. If scaffolding bothers you, you may want to wait.

Michael Mar 8th, 1999 07:51 PM

Hi Kate....I was just there in November and your friend is about right. Much of the sites in Rome are covered in Scaffolding including St Peter's Bassilica in the Vatican and the Colloseum. I was very dissappointed. Sure messed up what would of been some nice pics. Same in Pisa. (Pisa's barely worth visiting anyway) Not much in Florence though (however one cathedral actually had scaffolding marring much of it's INTERIOR). But I saw none in Venice. If scaffolding bothers you, you may want to wait.

lisa Mar 8th, 1999 11:42 PM

it is true also of paris... I was there in feb. and there is a lot of construction in preporation for 2000. I still had a great trip and saw a lot, but if the construstion will bother you wait a bit for that trip.

pam Mar 9th, 1999 06:40 AM

I was afraid of this, but... When I was in Europe in 85 (my first trip abroad) it seemed like everything was covered in scaffolding. I bought postcards. It was still absolutely worth being there. I was dying to go to Rome and didn't want to wait until after 2000 so we're going in May/June. Will buy postcards. I suspect it will still have been worth being there. Friend of mine w/ many int'l contacts thinks Rome is going to be packed this summer, too. It's always crowded; packed is a relative term. <BR>

Kate Mar 9th, 1999 10:12 AM

Michael touched on this .... but what about cities other than Rome? Also shrouded in scaffolding? <BR>

Adria Mar 9th, 1999 10:27 AM

I'm planning a trip to Paris in May of 2000. Someone mentioned renovations and scaffolding in Paris. Do you know if it is supposed to be finished by the time of my trip? <BR> <BR>Thanks. <BR>

MollyDonnelly Mar 10th, 1999 04:59 AM

Hi Kate and others, I was in Italy in December and Paris a few weeks ago and many of the big sites were covered in scaffolding. I did what the previous poster did, bought postcards of things and enjoyed myself anyway. Renovations are also occurring in Amsterdam at the Van Gogh museum and Rembrandt's house, again for the millenium. I would wait until next year to go to Europe if possible, although, let's face it, the place is so old that something will always be under renovation. Besides, scaffolding is not covering everything, just some of the main site...St. Peter's, The Victor Emmanuelle II monument, Notre Dame etc. Whether you wait until next year or go now is up to you. If it's a once in a lifetime trip and this is really bothering you, then you may want to wait. If not, go, have fun and buy postcards!

pam Mar 10th, 1999 10:11 AM

LOL at the 'it's so old something will always be under reno' comment--had the same thought myself. IMO Rome is ALWAYS worth going but I did plan to avoid 2000 altogether. Of course, if the world ends in 2000, you risk having missed it &lt;grin

Tony Hughes Mar 10th, 1999 10:20 AM

I really don't think it has much to do with Y2K as it happens. You must all realise that many structures in Europe are considerably older than most American ones. I mean, in about 300 years, if it still exists, I have no doubt the Lincoln Memorial will have scaffolding on it owing to the age of the structure. It's age, that's all...the media don't usually like to show famous sites all covered in scaffolding, doesn't bring in the tourits, you see. <BR> <BR>Do you realise how old parts of Rome are? When buildings have been standing for over 1000 years it's only natural for them to need some attention.

Deb Mar 10th, 1999 01:03 PM

I agree with Tony. Sure there was scaffolding; there always will be on some monument in any of the big cities of Europe. I was in Italy both in 1997 and 1998. In the interim, St Peter's was scaffolded but it certainly did not dampen my joy at being in Rome. I'm also with Pam--go this year, don't go in 2000. There will be swarms more tourists than this year (and it will be crowded this year).

Kate Mar 10th, 1999 04:07 PM

Tony, <BR>Actually, you are not correct. It has EVERYTHING to do with Y2K ... go read any travel magazine (Conde Nast, etc.) and they all discuss the massive preparations in Italy for the Millennium. Additionally, I do believe most of us Fodorites know how "old" European structures are, so we don't need a lecture on Europes antiquity. <BR> <BR>I've been to Rome before, and would rather travel elsewhere in the country this time. I am just looking for some decent advice on the Millennium preparations. I love photography, so I don't want the renovations to hinder my ability to take "real" pictures. Id rather not buy postcards everywhere in place of taking my own photographs. So, this Y2K stuff could have a real impact on my country choice this September. I may visit France instead .....

laiyee Mar 12th, 1999 09:12 PM

Hello from Singapore. Is it really that disappointing to visit Rome now? We're going for our Europe honeymoon & ROME is one place where we wd love to visit. Would anyone tell us more of THE sites that are bing covered with scaffolds & stuffs like that. And, Michael, is PISA really that not worth visiting??

Tony Hughes Mar 13th, 1999 02:31 AM

Actually Kate you are incorrect. Do you live in Europe? NO, you don't thus you only have a vague and anecdotal idea of what construction is like there, seemingly gleaned from those travel magazines you mention. I am a civil engineer and can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that renovation of buildings has been going on for some years before AND will go on for some years after the (so-called) Millennium. It's in the news all the time, isn't it? Travel magazines are obviously trying to get you to visit the places they show so of course they will say such-and-such city has spent $400 million on renovating this and that. Restoration and Renovation goes on all the time, surely you don't think that at 5.30 pm on dec 31st, 1999 whole squads of workmen will put down their tools and remove the scaffolding and say ' Tada!!!' . Give us some credit, for heavens sake.

MollyDonnelly Mar 13th, 1999 05:27 AM

Hey guys, just so you know...there are signs by the construction of these places that actually says that it's being done specifically in preparation for the millenium festivites. Yes, work will be done continuously to preserve these old places, but most of the simultaneous work being done throughout Europe is indeed being done for the Y2K celebrations. I read the signs! <BR>As for whether Rome is still worth going to...yes! Like I said, not everything was being fixed up, just some things. Go if you want to, it's still worth it.

Monica Mar 13th, 1999 06:20 AM

I say go to Rome! Yes, there will be scaffolding no matter where you go, but you're in ROME!!! There are many things to see and I'm sure there are many sights that are not under scaffolding. There are the piazzas, the Forum, museums, and lovely streets. <BR> <BR>Laiyee, as for Pisa, I liked it. I was there in 1990 before it got all it's extra support. It's nice little town for an hour or so. Plan your day accordingly so that you go there in the morning (or afternoon), then head to another place to visit. It' a famous building! Why miss it? <BR> <BR>I agree with Tony in that there is always something under renovation. Europe is old! So you'll see scaffolding/renovations for both reasons. <BR> <BR>Have a great time to EVERYONE who heads to Europe! I'm going to Paris in May and will enjoy it no matter what is hidden by construction.

Al Mar 13th, 1999 06:58 AM

To Monica: <BR>I didn't know that Pisa was a building

nancy Mar 13th, 1999 09:41 AM

I think, Al, that we all understood Monica's message. It was very clear that when she referred to "Pisa", that it was the leaning tower that she was speaking of. Laiyee, I agree, visit Pisa. Not a long visit, but I was there last year and really enjoyed seeing that area. Enjoy! We are going to Paris in May, whatever is scaffolded, oh well! I'm sure it will still be beautiful. Can't wait....!!

Kate Mar 13th, 1999 10:17 AM

Tony, <BR>Wrong again - I have lived and worked in Europe (your country, actually) and traveled extensively while living there - so I DO know all about European renovation. So please, I beg, quit being so condescending to me (and other Americans) about their understanding of European renovation.

Tony Hughes Mar 13th, 1999 10:43 AM

Kate i lived and worked in South Africa for a while but i wouldnt profess to know all about it because i used to stay in that particular country. Thus you DON'T live in Europe so your view is tainted with time, isn't it?

Joanne Mar 13th, 1999 10:54 AM

If you believe that we are caretakers of our cities, then you have to relish the chance to see us taking care of our treasures. Renovation itself is interesting. Great photography does not require the perfect image.

Becky Mar 13th, 1999 10:57 AM

I agree with all the previous posters who said "Go to Rome anyway!" Yes, there are some structures with scaffolding but don't let that deter you from going. Most of the time, the interior of a structure will make up for any disappointment about its covered exterior. Example: Michelangelo's brilliant sculpture Pieta inside St. Peter's Basilica. I didn't skip that just because the building's facade was up to its neck in scaffolding. You really don't want to miss the entire, extragant interior of St. Peter's! Amazing! <BR> <BR>The Vatican Musuems (inside!!!) are also to die for, especially the Raphael Rooms (you have to see Raphael's masterpiece School of Athens) and the Sistine Chapel! I could care less if the museum's exterior was covered in scaffolding! <BR> <BR>Part of the Colosseum was also covered but just a small part, maybe 10% of it! <BR> <BR>There are other sites worth visiting in Rome - the Forum (which I don't think will ever have scaffolding - how can you cover separate ruins spread out in such a large area?), the Catacombs (underground tombs so very little chance of scaffolding there) and all the beautiful parks and piazzas. <BR> <BR>When I went to Pisa, the Gothic baptistry near the Leaning Tower also had scaffolding on 1/3 of its facade but the Tower itself was free and clear! <BR>I spent an afternoon here. <BR> <BR>As for other cities, I went to Venice and saw the magnificent St. Mark's Basilica. The exterior of the Doge's Palace and the Torre Del Orologio (Clock Tower) did have scaffolding but the Venetians did something inventive! They put a canvas over the ongoing construction and painted it with a portrait of the actual exterior of the building. So from afar, you couldn't tell if the buildings were under scaffolding/construction. <BR> <BR>There was no scaffolding over the Gothic Duomo in Milan, my favorite church. <BR> <BR>Assisi was spectacular -- nature at its best. Nothing was covered. The only place we couldn't go to was the lower church of St. Francis Basilica as it was damaged by earthquakein 1997! <BR> <BR>Verona was also nice, especially the Roman Arena -- a mini-Colosseum! Not covered by scaffolding at all. <BR> <BR>Florence was a living art museum - Renaissance sculptures and buildings everywhere, with no scaffolding in sight! <BR> <BR>Siena, my favorite Tuscan city! Its cathedral had scaffolding on the lower half of its facade. But my favorite place, the spectacular Piazza, was free and clear! If you go to Italy, you have to visit Siena!!! <BR> <BR>Go and have a good time! :} <BR> <BR>P.S. I was in Italy in June of 1998. If I had the money, I would go back there in a heartbeat, scaffolding or no scaffolding! The food alone is incentive for me to go! Absolutely divine! <BR> <BR>P.S. #2 It's not the outside that counts, it's what inside that matters!

Michael Mar 13th, 1999 01:42 PM

Pisa is worth the visit but I would not spend more than a half a day there. We arrived late at night by train got a hotel, got up early the next day, saw the sites and were out of there by early afternoon. Although the tower is closed, just seeing it is worth it. Also the baptistry (which does have scaffolding) is beautiful. Not much else to do there. The souvenier stands across the street kinda spoil the area. (I also didn't like all of the souvenier stands outside of the Coloseum). The walk from the train station through town ,across the river and to the sites in Pisa is nice. I agree with earlier posts that even though many places in Italy are marred by scaffolding, just being there is a wonderful experience and should not be passed up unless it really bothers you. I will be there again in late May. Plan on seeing more of Rome, Florence, Venice and this time Verona and whatever else we have time for. I will report back.

Diane Mar 13th, 1999 07:45 PM

There's restoration work being completed on the Washington Monument in DC -- and some forward-thinking architect thought to design special scaffolding with lighting, no less. It is really pretty cool looking. Of course when the facade being worked on is not festooned with gargoyles or elaborate columns, it could be easier to plan something like that. I'm not pushing American ingenuity here, but sometimes a "work in progress" can be quite interesting and lovely in its own way.

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