Friday, July 28, 2006

Italian cities top worldwide vacation spots

Travel and Leisure magazine has published its results for the world’s best vacation destinations as voted by readers. Florence is the number 1 destination, Rome number 2. Other top destinations include Siena and Venice. I started writing View Italy upon my definitive return to the US after 20 years in Italy. Once over the initial culture shock of how things are today and what I remembered as a 20 year old, I recognized that some of the basic changes in US lifestyle irked me quite a bit. Since I had already been through the process of immigration and culture shock when I first went to Italy I knew it was extremely important for me to understand the things that bothered me and find other things that were positive.

I began analyzing the good, the bad and the ugly of each country, hopefully without prejudice. As this process continued I recognized that while there are significant differences in the cultural basis the individuals that make up the bulk of our nation are very similar to the people of Italy. We want a job, we want to make enough money to get to the end of the month without fretting, we want relative assurance that our future will be as good or better than the past, we want to spend time with our family, and we want to look good.

The differences come from the structure of our governments. While the US is “by, of, and for the corporation”, Europeans have taken an attitude that government is “by, of and for We the People.”

Governments and legislation reflect the underlying values of the nation they represent. When beautiful works are part of daily life, it becomes a respectable occupation to be an artist and government reflects this appreciation for the humanities. Thousands of years of history become part of a people and the moment of a generation is melded into a greater pool of experiences. An analogy could be that the US is a teenager in puberty buying a Girls Gone Wild DVD. His thoughts are to have as many sexual experiences as possible, to consume and move on. The European cultures could be a forty year-old who has learned that gratification is not in the number of encounters instead, that the greatest and most satisfying experiences are built and developed, yes, quality over quantity.

Why does this have anything to do with our affection for Italy as a vacation destination?

Italian legislation controls false advertising by companies a bit better than US legislation. This results in a more informed consumer and limits corporation's capabilities to knock out the qualified artisans. So you can find owner operated stores, farms, and shops. Although Italians often work long hours there is also an understanding that all work and no family, results in a very bleak future for our kids.

Do not think that I am advocating that everything is perfect in Italy. Italy has just as many problems as any other advanced western culture, just that we see, during our vacations in Italy, things that we are missing from our current US lifestyle. Obviously we yearn for these things, even just for a certain period of time, happy to return home to the lives we know so well.

Balance is the key to a happy life. We have some marvelous things here in the US, other countries offer different, but just as fabulous, opportunities to live a balanced life. So splurge and pamper yourself. Take a vacation. Rejuvenate your body and soul. You will be glad you did and may find some little things you can do to make your current lifestyle even more enjoyable.


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Blogger ChickyBabe said...

Having travelled to Florence, Rome, Siena and Venice, I agree that Florence ranks numero uno. Rome was such a disappointment yet I had friends (locals) take me around. Of course, I was enchanted with Venice...

9:33 PM

Blogger Expat Traveler said...

hey david, thanks for stopping by. I'd so agree with what you say here. There are so many things I miss about switzerland. I think vacation time to go travel and enjoy myself at will is the highest.

I also hate that people eat too fast here and don't enjoy dinner together. They don't chat and enjoy and talk about life. People here are either off to go sporting or off to watch tv... I personally hate that...

Of course those are just small differences. But you are right, enjoying a vacation is the best. WE hope in a year or two we will be back to Europe also.

7:55 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

ChickyBabe Florence is a great destination because it easily combines both the provincial and the city experience. The long standing rapport with tourists also has facilitated infrastructures that cater to tourist while Rome remains primarily a political capital for both Italy and the world.... Strangely Venice is either loved or hated. Perhaps your next trip could include Sardegna, Sicily, or the Costa Amalfitana!

Cara Expat Thanks for the compliments. I have seen a significant change over the last few years here. I am encouraged (not that my opinion counts for anything) by the number of people embracing some of the antique values and Raffaella and I are even thinking about starting a restaurant with an Italian mentality, good food, good wine, and good friends (no turning tables).

11:21 AM

Blogger Happy0303 said...

Thank you for your help in finding Meow. I really appreciate it!

I sometimes see you over at BOTB. Italy is definitely on my list of places to visit!

12:00 PM

Blogger RennyBA said...

This is such an interesting discussion and I do agree with ET and your answers. For me, sitting around a (dinner) table is a possibility to exchange thoughts, ideas, knowledge and experiences. You listen, talk and learn – it’s a cultural, political and social spring or well. How do we maintain the story telling capability if we not treasure this opportunity to share and describe various subject of importance to mankind? Sitting in front of TV eating fast food is a disaster for our cultural evolvement. Dinner might also be the only time that many families are all together at the same time and why through away that opportunity.
Blogging can’t make up for it, but it is a comfort with people like you:-)
If you start a restaurant with an Italian mentality; count me in for the opening!

1:43 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Kailani I have 4 girls myself (while all grown up now) I understand the importance of certain things.

Renny ba I really think that a certain portion of the people are realizing the importance of conversation. We are finding more and more people who would like to get together for dinner instead of going out to a restaurant.

If we open the restaurant I will hold you to that promise.

5:59 AM


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