The Rick Steves phenomenon: Is he an asset or someone to avoid?
Alessandra Federici of Il Girasole in Cortona once very wisely said,
"What I find strange is that almost all of the ones that complain about how touristy places have become, are themselves tourists."
Before I stayed in the Aberdeen Hotel in Rome for a few nights and found several of his guide books on a coffee table in the lounge, I'd never heard of Rick Steves. Apparently he is thought to be responsible for an influx of visitors to certain areas in Italy. The Cinque Terre and San Gimignano to be precise. I'm wondering what the shop owners, hotel keepers and restaurant owners think? Not to mention the workers in the tourism industry. Are they upset or are they pleased by the extra visitors?
We are all so diverse in the ways in which we travel. There are those who dart like dragonflies from place to place while others practice slow travel by staying in one location for a longer time in order to get more out of the experience. Some are 'foodies' and patronise the restaurants, others prefer a trattoria or pizzeria. We may spluge on a four star hotel, or maybe we stay in convent accommodation. There are guided tours groups and independent travelers.
The way we travel and who guides us in the end, be it Rick Steves or our own independent spirit - is ultimately up to us. And as I often say - whenever the crowds start to overwhelm, there are lots of alternative possibilities to explore. There are numerous side streets, day trips, a myriad of museums and glorious little art galleries to explore.
Just a thought, but there are lots other of beautiful places in Italy that the tourists like to visit. I wonder if peope are blaming him for this as well:
I filmed this in October last year at the start of my way too brief, eight night stay in Venice. This was at 7.30 in the morning. Walking through San Marco before the majority of the visitors are up and about is a glorious way to start your day.
And I just discovered a wonderful report on Venice on Trekcapri's website. Great photos and beautiful writing.