By: Susan Sherren for Couture Trips Published: April 6, 2023 5:23 PM
Spanish Steps, Rome Photo By Susan Sherren
Americans are back at it, hitting the global road once more. Last summer was a banner comeback year for travel, except the travel industry still needs to get the memo and prepare for the onslaught of travelers. The headlines last summer were about lost luggage, flight delays, and cancellations, and many travelers found out that the airlines don't answer their phones! That should have put the damper on the 2023 travel season, but we're heading back toward mayhem again. Only this time around, the Europeans are raging mad about delayed retirement age limits, working conditions, and wages. Hopefully, many of these issues will calm down before the storm hits. However, only some of us have taken the clue; we are overselling some of the finest cities on the planet. Our copycat mentality regarding travel can negatively impact incredible destinations and countries like Italy.
Italy remains one of the best-loved countries for my fellow Americans to visit. You have everything: culture, great food, warm and friendly people, and stunning scenery. Yes, a travelers' paradise. But there is some trouble brewing in paradise! We want to clump up and visit the classics- Venice, Florence, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast. This year I have had many requests for this fabulous foursome. Moving the David statue out of Florence might alleviate the strain. Imagine David in a quaint, quiet small town deep in the heart of Tuscany. He might need a break from all the glaring and staring.
Trevi Fountain, Rome Photo by Susan Sherren
So what are some viable options and solutions to over-tourism in Italy? Finally, Venice threw down the gauntlet this year by requiring tourists to pay a fee and make an advance reservation. That was one approach and monetary gain to curb Venice's insane atmosphere during the summer. Many of the fab four accommodations rates have also soared, but I doubt that will have much impact; as you know, inflation is lurking everywhere, and most of us are turning a blind eye, hoping the demon goes away.
We must turn our creative juices on and pivot our itineraries to some hidden gems within Italy. Last year I visited Liguria, where the sea and mountains meet in one incredible scene. Imagine hiking along ancient donkey paths in the morning and basking on a beach by the Mediterranean in the afternoon. You will hear far less English, and you will be able to embrace the la dolce vita mentality. Last year I quizzed the Italian taxi drivers and asked them where the Italians like to vacation. They divulged their secrets: Sardinia, Puglia, and some unknown and hidden little islands floating in the Mediterranean. Ok, lets not all pile in! You have to ring me for details. I won't divulge my insider knowledge to anyone; I like keeping the beach to myself and a few Italians.
Of course, we all want to see Rome's Colosseum, make a wish at the Trevi Fountain, and marvel at the Sistine Chapel, but why not go during the off-season. Yes, this is an innovative and strategic alternative. Imagine spending Christmas in Rome! Hearing Christmas music streaming from cathedrals and chowing down on warm, yummy pasta sounds like a win-win. Try pivoting away from the Caribbean in the Winter and go counter-culture by heading to Europe during the Winter months.
If you can't resist a trip to the fab four during the summer months, book in advance, keep your stay short and sweet, and investigate some hidden gems within each city. They do exist, such as the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, which holds some of the most incredible works from pre-Roman Italian antiquity. During my fascinating 2 hour tour, I encountered half a dozen tourists; that is less than 12. Consider exploring Rome from the ground up. I love the Domus Aurea underground tour that explores Nero's Golden Palace. Yes, it's dark and cold, perfect during Rome's hot summer months.
Instead of heading to the glitzy and glammy Capri during the crazy summer months, where you can shop at Dior and Chanel along the Via Vittorio Emanuele, and the like, try wandering to Ischia, the older, more stable, less showy sister. For size, Ischia is 46 square kilometers, while Capri is just 10 square kilometers. You can chill here and won't need to fight to smell a lemon or orange blossom.
Let's avoid wearing a hole in Italy's fab four, get creative, shorten our stays in these cities, and branch out. Italy is a vast country with great spaces to explore. Being on trend does have its limitations, but being a trendsetter is where you'll find the true bella vita.