Truthfully, the first time I visited Italy, I was a little disappointed. Crazy, I know, but I my first experience was of Venice and it wasn’t what I expected. I was quite new to travel and expected to find quiet streets full of beautiful cafes or restaurants where you could sit in peace and watch the world go by. I think that’s what a lot of people expect from travel, to be completely immersed in a cultural experience without any distractions.
Have you seen Midnight in Paris? I love it but its films like that which caused me to have misconceptions about travel when I was growing up – the scene when they’re wandering through the art gallery just the four of them? Or when they’re strolling through a market and there’s hardly anyone there? That’s the dream, to be free to go at your own pace and admire things from close up or afar without anyone or anything interrupting your experience.
The reality of visiting popular cities like Rome or Venice is that a lot of it is going to be busy. Cities rely so much on tourism that it’s going to feel a little staged in parts. But it’s so important to just accept it and take in the beauty of it all anyway, because it’s timeless in a way that crowds of people aren’t and I certainly find peace in the company of monuments that have witnessed so much history, crowds or no crowds.
There are places that are rarely visited, even parts of Rome! They’re worth seeing too and it’s definitely worth researching before you go to find these spots. But don’t be put off by crowds and queues, they drive me crazy too, but I wouldn’t want to miss out on seeing The Sisteen Chapel because of it – and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone else for wanting to see it too.