“You haven’t seen Italy unless you’ve seen…”

Rome Tourists - by Luca Sartoni (creative commons)

Rome Tourists – by Luca Sartoni (creative commons)

So, a funny thing happened last week. I posted a note about the article with what I call “a perfect two-week Italy itinerary for the first-time visitor,” which is crammed with caveats at the bottom about how what’s perfect for one person isn’t perfect for everyone, how I know you can see more in two weeks than I’ve suggested, etc. I do not expect every person going to Italy to read that article and think, “That is the itinerary for me!” The country is too varied, the potential experiences too vast – no one trip is ideal for everyone. This is why I say that in the article itself.

One person who read the article, however, either didn’t read all the way to the bottom or flat out ignored one of the caveats, which reacts to the phrase, “You can’t possibly say you’ve seen Italy unless you see (fill in the blank)” in this way:

Oh, but you can. This is a sort of snobby attitude that one type of travel (and traveler) is better than another. I’m not fond of that attitude. Just because you don’t visit all the places on someone else’s idea of a proper Italy must-see list doesn’t mean your trip somehow “doesn’t count” or that you didn’t do it right. Of course, if you only set foot in Italian airports on your way someplace else, then – yeah – you can’t say you’ve been to Italy in that case. Even I’ll call you on that one.

(Nevermind that saying, “You haven’t been to Italy if you haven’t been to Naples” is just factually inaccurate. Because there’s that, too.)

I brushed the comment off, because it’s one I’ve heard and been annoyed by a million times, but then I thought I should come back here and tell you why I think you should ignore that kind of comment, too.

Anyone who thinks that their version of Italy is the only one, the right one, the one you should also adhere to; who dismisses your Italy trip because it doesn’t contain a place they love, or because it does contain a place they don’t think you should visit; who tries to make you feel badly about the places you want to see and the attractions you want to check off as if they’re somehow inferior… That person can piss right off and let you plan your trip the way you want to plan it.

It is your vacation – not theirs.

Personally? Maybe I don’t have any interest in going on a cruise. But if that’s what – pardon the pun – floats your boat? Then go for it. I will help you learn what you need to know about Italy’s cruise ports, suggest shore excursions, and offer tips on what to eat in each port of call. I will not tell you that you should be doing X or Y instead of a cruise.

Don’t get me wrong – I am opinionated. I will tell you when you’re trying to do too much. I will tell you when I think something isn’t worth your time. And then I’ll let you make your own decisions, because you’re a grown-up.


I apologize for getting all up on my soapbox here, but I’m just tired of hearing people berated and bullied because they wanted to spend ten minutes posing for photos pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If that is on your must-do list, then you should do that.

(I mean, unless you’re hurting someone else along the way. Even I would berate and bully you if you were standing on the backs of puppies and babies to get the perfect shot. But I digress.)

Some of my friends on Facebook chimed in with responses to the “you can’t say you’ve seen Italy unless you’ve seen X” comment, and they made me both laugh and realize how silly the original comment was. If you get any guff from anyone – and I mean anyone, including me – about your itinerary, I hereby give you permission to reply thusly:

You say I can’t really see Italy if I don’t go to a certain city? Oh yeah?

Watch me.

2 responses to ““You haven’t seen Italy unless you’ve seen…””

  1. Diana says:

    I love this post. We DID spend time holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa…and it was more than ten minutes ha, ha, ha! It really was! I was with my sis and our five kids. Each one of them held up that tower…and I did too. That was one of the best memories of that trip. Just because we were being goofy and carefree. I tend to like places that are undiscovered, but I also enjoy the cheesy stuff. So yes…..I totally agree with you! Each person has their own tastes and preferences. Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp? Anyway…again…great post!

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks, Diana! Clearly we can disagree on what our favorite places or methods of travel are – we are individuals with distinct tastes, after all. It’s the passing judgment on someone because of something they like that bothers me.

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