38 Comments
Aug 2, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Tommaso Galli

As a journalist living in Rome and writing about Italy, I think about this all the time. I try to encourage people to visit more under-the-radar places, but I also worry about what will happen to those places if they become touristy. Just yesterday, I was speaking with an American woman living in Tropea who told me that it took her three months to find an apartment because the locals prefer to Airbnb their properties to tourists during the summer and leave them empty in the winter. And Tropea is still relatively under-the-radar, at least more so than Florence, Rome, and Venice. It makes me wonder if I write about Tropea for an American publication, am I contributing to the problem? As a writer, how can I contribute to a more sustainable form of tourism?

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Aug 2, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Tommaso Galli

I so appreciate that you are always sharing your life with us, the beautiful and the simple and the honest and romantic--and also asking us to think, to learn, to be better. Thank you for educating, and for speaking so beautifully and passionately about all the important topics related to food and tourism and travel.

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Aug 2, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Tommaso Galli

So well written. Most inspiring ideas on what genuine experiences rather than ticks on a travel guide. I know my ideal holiday would be to eat my way around Italy, in the countryside. But then I live in the country!

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Aug 2, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Tommaso Galli

I have read a lot of the same things in other articles about the mass tourism and rudeness just trying to get Instagram photos. When we visit I will leave social media behind I think. We are planning a trip in October 2024 and this podcast helps me a lot. My plan all along has been the smaller towns and agriturismo that I have been following for years such as yours. I prefer to take our trip slow and enjoy it like locals instead of rushing around to try to see it all. I am constantly rearranging my trip because we only have 2 weeks there and I want to be able to visit all my favorites but they are spread out. 🤷‍♀️ I sit and look at the map and route and reroute it.... we’ll see how it all pans out. I appreciate all your advice and tips!! 💞

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Aug 2, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Tommaso Galli

I have visited Florence many times and was there for in early May staying in the Oltrarno assuming it would be less busy and I was wrong! The city was so crowded and we couldn’t wait to leave. I had thought about returning in December but decided to spend the time in Arezzo instead.

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Aug 2, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Tommaso Galli

Couldn't agree more. Unfortunately though, I think that the problem with mass tourism is in its essence, the massification of the experience, the same for everyone, tasteless and commoditized. This tourism is a contributor to our planet being on fire. Inherently, we're calling for a different kind of travelling experience that appreciates what's real and leaves Instagram aside. This way of travelling is not necessarily aided by the all-comforts trope and you have to make an effort to create it. It exists (always did), but by definition is not for everyone, so we'll always be in the minority.

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Aug 2, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Tommaso Galli

Giulia & Tommaso, we really wanted to sign up for a class in July but, instead, after our early morning walk, we are going spent most of our time in our air-conditioned home on Lake Bolsena. Unfortunately, with advancing age, we are much more sensitive to the heat, which also affects our appetite! We would love to do a 3 day course and spend time in an agriturismo but will not be in Italy from October to mid April. Fortunately, over the many years we have visited or lived in Italy, we have already visited many of the big cities, usually off season. We now savor the essence of normal Italian life. Thank you both for all you do to teach and promote the same!

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Aug 2, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Tommaso Galli

Thank you for this authentic and courageous material. I have been reading and following various similar pleas, campaigns, articles in the media about the new age of tourism in all sorts of places around the world and especially Italy and I am really sorry to see it is such a big problem of locals' life. I think this should be the mantra of toruism for the future: "Truly sustainable tourism happens when the government manages to reconcile the quality of life of resident citizens with the quality of experience of temporary citizens, the tourists."

Thank you for your off-the-beaten track recommendations! Will be saving them for my future Italian experience.

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Aug 2, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Tommaso Galli

Two years ago, I was in Tuscany on a honeymoon with my husband. It was at the end of September. We stayed near you, in Barberino Val d'Elsa, and we absolutely fell in love with the place. Originally, we wanted to visit Siena or Florence, but in the end, we decided to explore those quiet local towns. The only tourist destination was San Gimignano, and we enjoyed gelato in the square. We spent a lot of time in a local trattoria and the nearby winery, La Spinosa. We also visited Colle di Val d'Elsa, but honestly, the town didn't impress us (we didn't have your recommendations!). However, the Sentierelsa Trail? I love it!

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Aug 11, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia

We're waiting for a performance of Turandot to begin as I write this. We came to Tuscany for ten days to attend the Puccini festival. But we didn't visit Florence on this trip. Today we visited Montecatini Terme and Vinci. Tomorrow is our last day and we seem to have run out of places to visit.

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Aug 3, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia

So important!! Thank you for raising awareness and also having some viable solution.

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Aug 3, 2023Liked by Giulia Scarpaleggia

An excellent piece-and I was so excited to see the podcast version pop up in my podcast app. So lovely to hear your voice again.

I joined a facebook Italian travel info group this year--it has a lot of good logistic info about nuts and bolts of travel--but the thing that has blown me away is that members regularly post their itineraries and it is almost always Venice-Florence-Rome-Amalfi coast. That’s it. And often all four squeezed in in little more than a week!

We are coming for almost a month in late fall, and while planning I went in circles--stay in Florence/stay outside of Florence for a bit more than a week. In the end, we chose to stay in the Oltrarno neighborhood where we both had lived before we met, and just hope we can find pockets of an authentic Florence, and hope we are not just part of the problem.

And of course we have a week not far from Colle Val di Elsa! (So happy to have your guide ❤️)

On our last trip (January 2020) I was surprised how much English I heard all over Florence, not just in the center, and at the loss of so many of the little in dependent rosticceria, alimentari, etc. (I’m sure it is not just over tourism causing this, it has to be a complicated formula, but maybe that is at its heart).

Watching the explosion of tourism in Italy only makes me want to spend our next trips exploring places off the beaten path--and hoping they don’t become overwhelmed as well.

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I can't say that I've had any high minded goals beyond just avoiding crowds and big cities, but I've been bitten by the "walking/hiking/biking" bug. Unfortunately, in the States, that's usually in overpopulated national parks during tourist season, but so far we hiked and biked in Ireland from small town to small town and managed to mostly avoid the huge bus crowd. And I'll be walking on the Del Norte in Spain this fall (after the partiers go back to school, I hope). The tourist season still causes issues, I'm sure (as I hear/read about in Spain) but it's definitely brining money into smaller towns.

Not sure if this is advisable or even doable, but I couldn't imagine something more interesting than walking the Via Francigena in fall or early spring and stopping for the Masterclass. If it is, I'd love to put that on the short list.

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Guilia, I completely agree with your proposal ie for tourists to plan their trips to experience a small town, live like the locals, and be slow and intentional. My first visit to Italy was in July2015. Hot days, end of season, but we intentionally planned our trip to limit our time at touristy places like Rome and Milan.

Florence in 2015 wasn’t that bad at the time, not very crowded, but I think the pandemic has changed it, or so I hear. Our next trip is definitely going to be the small towns and at a cooler time, and we are yet to explore Tuscany. Small towns like yours would be a perfect choice.

I distinctly remember that when I spoke a little bit of Italian for how to order food or the bill, i noticed an appreciative glimmer in the eyes of those who served us. I think it’s a small example of the importance of respecting the culture, traditions and ways of Italy.

I can’t wait to write about it, and tell the story about our Italian experience. Hopefully I can dig up all those great photos, while I finish up my current projects for “The Marinade”.

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There are many valid points in this post, including the observation regarding the ridiculously unmanageable crowds in tiny San Gimignano. However, as a resident in the Val d'Elsa (where I can see the towers of San Gimignano from my house), I take issue with the idea that residents in S. Gimignano need to drive 30 minutes to shop for groceries. Aside from several alimentari and gastronomie within the city walls, there is a perfectly decent Coop supermarket five minutes from the Porta Giovanni entrance where buses disgorge the tourists. For the rest, excellent advice and observations regarding how, why, and when to visit Tuscany.

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While Florence is wonderful, it is best left for early or later in the year. Sadly the IG crowds make it almost impossible to enjoy it in-season. Tuscany (or its neighbor Umbria) is best seen by staying for a period somewhere as an anchor, and then exploring around. This is where you discover the real country, figure out what really works for you, and where you meet people and make relationships, as we have over the years. Sadly, mass tourism is killing the very concept it meant to advance.

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