Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, renowned throughout the world for its incredible food, wine, culture, architecture, fashion and stunning landscapes. With so many amazing cities and regions in one country and dozens of beautiful islands there are many reasons why Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world and in 2017 Italy has seen a record number of tourists: Numbers recorded to be over 40 MILLION, but that does not account for European visitors who travel freely without borer interference. Essentially we are talking about more than the entire population of Canada visiting Italy in 2017.
Well, not exactly. It would be great if it weren’t for the very sad reality of Italy’s political and economic state where in a country of such beauty, the vast majority of resources are not managed for the greater good of the society in a sustainable way and make no mistake about it; tourism is a resource and needs governmental rule and law to function. Unfortunately tourism in recent years in Italy has not been managed in a sustainable way at all and now mass tourism is a huge concern particularly during peak season and areas such as Florence, Venice , Rome , Cinque Terre – Amalfi Coast & Capri are nothing more than tourist states.
June, July, August & September when the cruise-ships bring massive numbers of visitors into the ports are the worst times to visit, abut it’s not only cruise ships that are the culprit here. It’s the lack of employment in other areas which has drawn millions of people into the tourism “industry” since in Italy tourism is one of the only ways that many people now can make a living considering the fact that salaries in other lines of work are so little.
And for those working in the tourism industry? Consider this:
Higher level managers can expect to receive a MAX salary of 2000,00 EURO a month. That’s approximately 2400,00 USD a MONTH and we are talking top level managers here, not average employees who make anywhere from 1200 – 1600 EURO a month.
So, why is it that when you come to the majority of Italian tour operators employees generally provide the same cookie-cutter tours?! When looking for Italy vacations you typically see the same things over and over and over again?It’s because Italian Tour operators are trained in selling the same things over and over again. Marketers are taught to market the same standard things over and over again – because it’s easy. The system is all set up!
Italy saw over a TRILLION EURO in tourism revenue this year and so why would anyone want to change it? The truth is nobody does, but the environment is demanding it. The country and the citizens here can’t handle it.
Staff of major offices don’t want to go out of their way of the “normal” and “standard” tourist circuit to give you suggestions outside of the normal realm of what they are expected and paid for to do. Just like you they are involved in a hugely problematic tourism “INDUSTRY” now made up of numbers, not people.
In addition to political and economic difficulty that so many citizens of Italy are faced with, the fact of the matter is that most of the world only ever hears or knows about the cities or regions where there is already significant tourism and so areas like the Cinque Terre national park featured in Rick Steve’s most popular travel guide book, or most recently the Amalfi Coast & Capri. in addition to the already popular cities like Florence, Venice and Rome – the Italian government and most major tour operators who do millions of Euro in business continue to invest major money in marketing so that you think these places need to be on your “bucket list” when the reality is that the truly beautiful, exclusive and most gorgeous places in Italy you never hear about. The places you THINK YOU MUST SEE IN ITALY ARE THE MOST MARKETED PLACES BECAUSE THEY ARE EASY TO SELL.
But Let’s look at the reality – which no-one is going to tell you.
EXCLUSIVE & BEAUTIFUL VACATIONS IN ITALY DO NOT NEED TO BE EXPENSIVE.
In June, if you want to go to Positano on the Amalfi Coast – be are guest, but at least be aware you can barely find a hotel room under 200 EURO and it’s not only the cost of hotel rooms that’s problematic:
Tourists coming here, have to wait sometimes hours to reach their hotels in Positanowhen arriving from Naples and have to endure major traffic in peak seasons, though not only: It’s incredible stress for the drivers and this year we had several reports from drivers and citizens in these areas feeling that their way of life has been totally disrupted by mass tourism, traffic and pollution. In fact, locals complain in their own home towns and cities they can’t even go out for a morning coffee and hear Italian at their local coffee shop. It’s all English – and American English at that.
And so the question becomes:
If it’s no longer pleasurable for the locals themselves can it be pleasurable for the tourists themselves? Has Italy in these major tourist states become a sort of grown-up Disneyland for adults?
We are pondering this question and have formed an institution called the Italy Education Center – and we are starting to tackle these very issues and starting to take action and create advocacy here in Italy to create sustainable tourism. We believe that education is the key!
In the upcoming months we will be posting more about time-tables and measures that Italy is implementing in order to protect these important cultural and environment areas from over-tourism.
In the meantime here are some great alternatives to the tourist trap areas in Italy:
2. Instead of the Cinque Terre think Maremma (Tuscany’s Secret Coast) – Monte Argentario & the Tuscan Archipelago of Islands Elba, Giglio
While millions of American tourists are crowding to the Cinque Terre national park each year, paying huge amounts of money for less than average accommodations, a few miles south along Tuscany’s western coast there is a simply magnificent area known as the Maremma Coast with gorgeous coastal towns like Porto Santo Stefano, Talamone (recently featured in James Bond) and several other magnificent coastal destination with extraordinary beaches – though it’s not only this that makes visiting the Maremma area so special.
The area is filled with dozens of natural hot springs, the most famous of those are found in Saturnia and in addition to hot-springs, there are magnificent Etruscan towns like Pitigliano and Sorano.
3. Instead of the Amalfi Coast consider the Coast of Maratea, Cilento or the Cedri Riviera further to the south which offers towns like Praia a Mare which have incredible stretches of coast and nearby islands offering cave grottoes like those found in Capri that are even better.
As previously stated, the Amalfi Coast has one road in and one road out. so it’s not surprising with 10 MILLION (Yes, 10 Million visitors this year), for one coastal road it was a bit too much for the infrastructure of the area to handle. Now, local residents are calling for a cap on tour buses and numbers into the area just like the Cinque Terre is, but as usual in Italy the government is slow to respond and the businesses like hotels and tour operators want to see your money – since they have no other way of earning money.
This said, local socially and environmentally responsible business owners are demanding now from local government officials for a CAP on numbers to the area and if you want to go in June, July, August, September or even October, be our guest – but in the alternative you want to see incredible coastlines and have unique experiences.
4. Venice, Florence, Rome – Tuscany: See Them all – but consider BEYOND
The Venetians created the city of Venice, but their empire expanded all along Italy’s Adriatic coast and spans the regions of Emilia Romagna, Molise, Le Marche and Puglia.
There are extraordinary Venetian cities all along the Adriatic Coast, like Termoli, Gallipoli, Otranto and so many others in all of these areas.
Florence and Rome are definite MUST SEES and you should see them – but the Florentines and Romans have impressive cities that are not only gorgeous but will also leave you pocket-book feeling less deprived
March 20, 2018
September 25, 2017
Our story begins in 2003 in the region of Calabria, which is a region in Southern Italy. If you think of Italy as a boot, this region would be the toe of the boot - the deep south, otherwise known in Italy as the land of the Mezzogiorno.… [Read More]