June 4


Frustrations encountered while travelling in Italy

By Rick

June 4, 2014

biglietto_agrigentoI am WAY behind on my posts for this trip.  I will catch up in the next two weeks, but before I do, I need to blow off some steam while the emotions are still hot!

Before I launch into full rant mode, I’d like to make a few disclaimers.  First of all, for the most part, we are having a wonderful time on this tour-de-force through Italy, meeting some incredible people who I now consider good friends.  Secondly, I’ve been challenged by poor web-hosting service and other Internet aggravations that I couldn’t have anticipated, which has sort of put me in a bad mood these last 4-5 days.

Still, I’ve got to let my frustrations out, and also I want to be honest with all of you who follow my blog, and let you know that it has not been all wine and opera music.

A few months ago, Beppe Severgnini wrote an article in the New York Times entitled, “Why No One Goes to Naples.” In the article, he criticizes his country for doing a bad job with promoting tourism.  I had commented on this article in one of my pre-blog tour posts, but now I have a little more first-hand experience to add to my opinion.

Well, it turns out that Beppe was right.  Some days it seems to me that Italy is doing everything it can to discourage tourists.  And while the problem is more evident in the south, it’s certainly not limited to the mezzogiorno.

But let’s be clear: when I say that the tourism infrastructure is terrible, I’m referring to the efforts of the local, regional, and national governments, and the tourist boards they represent.  Not all, of course, but certainly the majority.

On the contrary, I’ve met many, MANY, hard-working, entrepreneurial Italians who could not be more welcoming to tourists, both foreign and domestic (I know this since we have one of each in my family).  The sad thing is that the tourist boards that should be helping these honest businessmen and businesswomen are actually holding them back.  It’s difficult enough to start your own agriturismo, restaurant, or tour company without the government doing their best to turn away your clients.

Here’s the perfect example.  We arrived in Agrigento on a Sunday evening and found most things closed.  Fine, that’s “normal,” even for a tourist town in high season.  Our hotel was not in the town center, so we couldn’t locate a Bancomat (ATM), either.  No worries.  In the morning, on our way to see the Valley of the Temples, we asked the front desk clerk if we could use our credit card to buy tickets to the archaeological area.

She seemed almost insulted by the question, and responded, “Of course!”

Experience told me to stop at an ATM anyway, to play it safe, but the closest machine was downtown, 5-6 kilometers of winding roads in the opposite direction.

So we arrive at the entrance to the Valley of the Temples at about 10:00 a.m., and waited in line for a while only to find out that they do not take credit cards.  Or debit cards.  Only cash.  Really?  In 2014?

The employee appeared to be put off by my tone, and she suggested that we try the other entrance.  “Just around the corner,” she said, “they take debit cards.”

things to watch out for while travelling in Italy
DON’T believe it!

Well, we walked “just around the corner” for 30 minutes—along a busy street, with our baby in the stroller, doing our best to avoid pot holes and random debris.  No entrance in sight.  We did, however, come upon the museum associated to the archaeological site.  They apologized, but said, “No, we don’t take credit cards or Bancomat here, either.  (Despite a sign saying otherwise; see actual photo.)   And the machine at the other entrance hasn’t been working.  But let me call them for you.”

Meanwhile my wife was explaining the whole story, and registering a reasonable complaint.  This is when one of the employees took her firmly by the arm and escorted her to the restroom.

“But I don’t need a restroom,” my wife said.   The employee would not be swayed, almost dragging her, apparently concerned that this reasonable complaint might escalate into a hysterical overreaction.

So we waited while they called the other office.   Finally someone said that, “YES!  The Bancomat machine at the other entrance is actually working today!”

“Great news!  But where is this other entrance?  We’ve been walking for 30 minutes but haven’t seen it.”

“Oh, well, it’s another 2 ½ kilometers.  Uphill.  But there’s a bus that passes every 10 minutes, and they can take you there.”

We went back outside and waited for the bus that never came.  Eventually we asked the guy in the nearby souvenir kiosk about it.   He said, “Yes, usually every 10 minutes the bus comes.  But today is a holiday, so it’s only once an hour.  And you just missed it.”

Back up to the museum we go.  The employee must have seen the steam coming out of my ears at this point.  She kindly offered to take us to the Bancomat in her own car and then drop us off at the entrance.  Whether this was simply an act of kindness or an effort to avoid an international incident, I cannot say.

At the Bancomat, I withdrew 250 Euros, the maximum amount.  The machine gave me five 20’s and three 50’s, whereas usually they just give you five 50’s.  This is an important detail, as you’ll soon see.

At 12:00 noon, we finally arrive at the entrance to the Valley.  At the ticket booth, I noticed a sign that said, indeed, they did not accept credit cards, but DID accept Bancomat.  However, under this sign was a note handwritten in large letters, “Solo Italiane!”  In other words, they did accept debit cards, but only ones issued by Italian banks.  Really?  In 2014?

“OK, let it go,” I told myself, opening my wallet and absently placing a 50 on the counter.

Then the ticket booth guy looked up at me with a sour look, “Sorry sir, I can’t accept this.  I don’t have any change.”

In my mind, I was inventing ways to deliver a slow, painful death to this person, who just happened to be the last in long line of government workers determined to make my stay in their city as aggravating as possible.  Then my fantasy was interrupted by someone chortling loudly and uncontrollably.  Only after about 10 seconds did I realize that this psychotic laugh was emanating from my own mouth.  Yes, I had completely lost it and I can only be grateful that my daughter is too young to remember the spectacle that she witnessed.  My wife, instead, was relieved to see me laughing, since she was fully ready to set the whole place on fire.  (Did I mention that she is Sicilian?)

Fortunately we had a 20 Euro note, so more than two hours after trying to get in, we were at last admitted.  I can’t help thinking that a less stubborn person would have given up, having traveled 5,000 miles to visit Italy, only to be turned away at the entrance.  How sad.

I partially blame myself for this.  I KNOW that you have to anticipate every possible problem for yourself, and you can’t count on any help from the people who are employed to help you.

OK, that’s enough.  Let me now highlight the positive.  The Valley of the Temples is truly an amazing site/sight.  The best Greek ruins anywhere, including Athens.  The weather was lovely and we took some incredible photos.  And as always is the case in Italy, the day ended with a fantastic meal.  So all was not lost.  But it was certainly a lot more effort than it needed to be.agr1

This post is “out of sequence,” and I still have things to say about my tours in Rome last month, not to mention our stops in Palermo, Erice, and Trapani.  And I want to write more about Agrigento, but I’ll wait until my temper has cooled off.

Lessons learned?  Number One: always be ready for the unexpected while travelling in Italy.  Yes, this sounds like a contradiction, but any Italian will be able to explain it to you.  Number Two: hire a guide or some other expert to deal with these problems for you.  This is especially true for first or second time visitors to Italy.  Don’t waste time and aggravation with these things.  Spend a little extra money and you won’t have any such stories as this to tell.  Your only memories will be of unforgettable beauty, great food, and nice people.  All of which Italy has PLENTY of!

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About the author

Living in the Caput Mundi and trying to decipher Italian culture for the English speaking world.

  • Opening after 5 PM would mean paying all the workers extra for staying longer. It happened this weekend, when all the museums all over the country were open for free, in Sicily they had issues with workers’ unions and overtime so they only opened in the morning. And for every bored lazy middle-aged state worker who couldn’t bother coming in, there are 10 young art graduates just dying to become certified guides and curators.
    I’m not sure this country will ever pick itself up.

    • Riccardo, I think you’ve hit the heart of the problem: rules which reward the established employees and inhibit young, ambitious job-seekers. But I sincerely hope you’re wrong in your prediction. 🙁

  • Rick,for me the biggest problem I encounter on my quite frequent visits to Rome is criminality on The Metro.I have been a victim in the past and last week was targeted by a team who were quite attracted by my camera ( unsuccessfully).
    I would advise this:Be very wary in Termini,they have lookouts.Don’t read maps in any station.Dont stand near any dodgy looking character with an earpiece (man,woman,even old man/woman),they communicate with their teams of fellow scumbags. If in doubt move to a diiferent carriage just as the train pulls up and the doors open. Don’t stand near the door (easier said than done).
    Lastly. Why are the authorities seemingly doing nothing to curb this? It’s been going on for ages and is getting worse. End.

    • Yes, it’s a problem…always has been. You give sound advice. For myself, I tend to be a bit too cavalier after a few years of riding the metro daily. I think by now the pickpocket recognize me and know that I have nothing to steal!!

  • Rick, I have to apologize, but I couldn’t stop laughing at all your misfortune in Agrigento. Had a bad case of schadenfreude. What you experienced really wasn’t funny, but it sounded so much like our travels in Italy, I had to laugh. Perhaps, when we first visited Italy years ago, we felt the same frustration. Today I think we have learned to anticipate many of these problems.

    Once, in Vasto, we waited an hour for a bus that was supposed to run every 20 minutes. We were waiting with locals so we felt confidant it would come. Eventually we discovered there would be no bus due to an unannounced strike. We ran back to our hotel which called a cab. We caught our train with just minutes to spare.

    In Messina last summer we were on our way to the municipio when we stopped for the noon bell tower performance at the duomo. Since the municipio didn’t close until 1pm, we figured time wouldn’t be an issue. We arrived at their offices at 12:20 and were promptly told no one could help us because everyone was leaving at 12:30. Huh? It’s 12:20 now. Don’t you have at least 10 minutes? Apparently they needed that time to ‘get ready’ to leave. When asked about the 1pm closing time, we were greeted with icy silence. Finally, one caring soul said he would help and did, working until 12:45. We will remember his generosity for a long time.

    Here are our tips for a successful trip to Italy:

    1) Do your homework, but never expect anything to go according to plan or schedule.
    2) Expect the worst, but hope for the best.
    3) Always have a backup plan. Be flexible.
    4) If you miss something, just keep moving. Italy has plenty to see.
    5) Never walk past an ATM until you have reached your daily withdrawal limit.
    6) Plan to pay cash for everything, but use your credit card whenever possible. That way you can build up a cash reserve for emergencies. Bring a VISA card. It’s the only one good everywhere you want to be.
    7) Before confirming any reservation check and double-check your information. Then check it again.
    8) Plan to be on your feet all day. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Walk whenever possible. You will see so much more on foot. As you stroll, look in storefront windows for hidden treasures.
    9) Avoid tight schedules. That will only guarantee problems.
    10) When things go wrong, be as nice and as ‘pitiful’ as possible. Arguing is an art in Italy, but the Italians have a lot of compassion, so make them want to help you. Appeal to the elderly, grandmotherly type. No one will quarrel with her.
    11) Savor the moment when someone goes out of their way to help you. Repay the favor, if possible. Buy them a gelato. Ask if they will be in a photo with you. It will be appreciated.
    12) See things from the viewpoints of others. Customer service people deal with cantankerous folks all day long, don’t be one of them.
    13) Learn how to genuinely and sincerely say ‘Per favore!,’ ‘Grazie mille!,’ and ‘Prego mille!’
    14) Just chill out! Seemingly intolerable, unfortunate events will make for great stories later!

    Buon viaggio! Ciao!

    • Yes, those are all great suggestions for the occasional visitor to Italy, Earl, But I would submit that they are harder to implement when you live with the frustrations day after day, and harder still for someone like my wife who has dealt with them for her entire life and wants so much better for her country…but also FROM her country. However, as you’ve hopefully read, I DO heartily endorse #14 whenever possible….oh, the stories I have to tell!! Grazie!!

      • As per the municipo…and workers who don’t respect posted hours. I would suggest for people confidant with the language and living here to argue. It doesn’t have to be rudely, but argue tje point. I put the sportello guy at the bank on blast for trying to screw me over, and knowing “rules” need to be posted in view of clients i told him so. He denied. So i told him i was calling the guardia di finanza, to the horror of his manager who overheard. Needless to say, I won that round. Ive argued over timetables, etc before. It does’t always work, but often does. Many italians count on people accepting crap and walking away.
        Btw, in my previous post about striscia/ credit. When people didnt have cash the waiter escorted them to the atm. I have also heard of places taking your id and sending people off themselves to the cash point. Absurd

      • Since I’m in Italy only a few weeks or months every year, putting up with all the bureaucratic nonsense is not as frustrating for me. I’ve learned to anticipate problems.

        When I went to apply for my Codice Fiscale I arrived at 10:45am, over two hours before closing, thinking that would be plenty of time. My number was finally called at 12:55pm (office closes at 1pm). I walked in, was greeted, and sat down at an agent’s desk. The lady proceeded to help me, but at 1pm she left. At first I thought she went to do something related to my application. After a few minutes it was apparent she had simply exited the office when the clock struck 1:00. I was absolutely dumbfounded.

        I then employed my tip #10) When things go wrong, be as nice and as ‘pitiful’ as possible. Arguing is an art in, but the Italians have a lot of compassion, so make them want to help you. I convinced a wonderful gentleman to help me before he left. Things actually went quite well. He stamped everything as quickly as he could without asking any questions and said go. I thanked him and left. As bad as things can be, sometimes they work out okay.

        Per my tip #14) Just chill out! Seemingly intolerable, unfortunate events will make for great stories later!


  • What about the ridiculous opening hours at the archaological site in Agrigento? Amazingly that’d open just before the hour in which the heat would become unsustenable (in August!), but then would close at 17:00. I don’t get it.

    • Ha, I didn’t notice that! I thought I was being clever by showing up early, not anticipating that it would have taken over two hours to get in. Luckily we had a cloudy day and the weather was pleasant.

  • Rick and Jessica…..Lucky you didn’t go to Agrigento in full summer on a hot day as I’m sure a homicide would have occurred……I was there a few years ago and it was about 40 degrees.., after a while all the ” rocks” started looking the same to me and I was more interested in finding a shady tree to sit under….!!!!
    It’s been great following your travels . I agree with the comments made on the decline of tourism and frustrations facing tourists encountering these rude and “can’t be bothered” people who should be thankful tourists are still coming …..I don’t know for how long…..to this otherwise fabulous country.
    As for me after living in Rome for the past 10 years I feel lucky that I have the escape hatch of going back to Aussie land when I can’t stand it anymore as I do a couple of times a year…….Having said that after I have been away for a few months I can’t wait to return to this crazy place……Once you have lived in Italy , it is very hard to get it out of your blood…….As you say there are so many positives and lots of lovely people to balance out the negative ones.

    • Well, yes, that’s the final point, Carla: the positives certainly out-weight the negatives. I feel the same way… but the occasional break IS needed to maintain sanity, right?!? Ciao!

  • Rick, we also experienced a similar incident our last night in Sicily. Our two week travel throughout the beautiful (magical) island was a wonderful experience…along with local tour guides (a priority when we arrived in each city). Our last night before flying home the next morning, we found a restaurant in Catania to have dinner. More importantly, displayed on the glass of the front door were the credit cards accepted at the establishment. Fast forward after a lovely meal, when we placed our “American” credit card with the bill, the owner arrived at our table and stated, “No credit cards accepted.” We pointed to the front door looking bewildered. It became very clear that “our” credit cards would not be accepted but we didn’t understand why or if we offended someone. We managed to gather enough cash between the four of us to pay for our dinner! Lesson learned! Thanks for the confirmation and happy to know it wasn’t because we offended someone!

    • Sorry to hear about your experience, Carol. But yes, unfortunately it’s all too common. I guess they figure they can lure people in with the idea of paying with a credit card, and then insist on cash. I’d have to imagine that once in a while people really don’t have the cash…and then what?

  • Great post….we’ve all been there….so many many many times. I’ve been living in Italy for 10 years – even working in tourism for a large part of it, and honestly, it’s things of this nature that have driven me away now, rolling my eyes as I leave thinking to myself- How is it possible for a country full of such history and beauty to fumble it constantly?!. As a side note, my Sicilian friends always joke about how folks in Siracusa and Agrigento are seemingly allergic to money (and from your own and all of my own experiences, it appears to be true!)

    • Ha, ha….I’ve never heard of the “allergy” but it seems to make some sense! But I’ve lived here for a while, too, and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get deep enough into the cultural mentality to understand these things. Sometimes I get little “Aha!” moments when it almost makes sense, but then like a dream it disappears. So much wasted potential…

      • Right. I think that after a very long time abroad, we assume that cultural differences are no longer a factor. But in the end, we just grew up with a completely different (and incompatible) mentality when it comes to business, working, and convenience…and customer service. They think it’s crazy to have steady and regular business hours, for example, and we come from an idea that “time is money” and every second you aren’t open or answering phones/emails, that’s money lost. The credit card thing is pretty common to see all over the place, even at major museums like the Uffizi, where they don’t want to pay commissions for CC use and further they cannot evade taxes when people don’t pay in cash since they cannot hide those earnings. In May in Siena I was surprised to find that the ticket office at the Torre actually explicitly will not accept anything but EXACT change for tickets (It costs 12 euros)….and they mean it, I tried to give them 15 and they practically had a convulsion.

  • At least you got to laugh…….right? lol. I was just watching Striscia (I think it was anyway) the other evening and they had a report on how, in Rome (and likely other places) many locali will tell tourists to their face they can’t pay by credit card even if there are signs saying yes. Cut to scenes of restaurant owners lamenting the fact that people “don’t have 4 euros in cash for their glass of vino or 2 euros for a coffee?” I can actually understand this since they have to pay a commission on every service made with the CC machine–that they also have to buy or rent. It was basically a “pick and choose” who can pay with credit and who can’t. Once again, the problem is with a system, and taxes, that doesn’t allow for people to either get ahead or even break even, so the crap gets thrown at the customer.
    I also feel very embarrassed when I see tourists treated poorly. Italy was once a top travel destination by non-Europeans but it is declining and I don’t doubt all of the problems you experienced, as well as others, combined with a surging (IMO) “menefreghismo” , are to blame. There are some wonderful workers and owners who do a great service, but there are so many others who treat tourists like crap because they know more will come anyway…..until they don’t.

    • Some great points. But yes, paying a small commission (3%?) on transactions is better than no transaction at all, right? Unless the profit margin is so low that they’d lose money…but I doubt that. Tourism is an important economic sector in Italy, and one of the few with a potentially bright future. But not if some fundamental things don’t change.

      • And besides that, think about all the money a nero/ under the table….hence the “cash” transactions when they can. The system is designed to help people fail, urge to cheat, and create annoyances for all. It’s so frustrating.

  • Italy sometimes does its best to put us off, and we can’t always blame the bureaucrats, it goes right to ground level. I have come up against the change thing, and when I have insisted that they find change, it appears they have had it all along, but were saving it in case they needed it later…the mind boggles.
    We can forgive Italy for just about everything because it is so beautiful, but sometimes it is through gritted teeth.
    I would love to see young Italians step up and bring Italy into the 21st century, but I fear they are sitting firmly on their bottoms in front of computers and being looked after by Mamma. Get out there and do something!

    • Most of the young people here in Italy (I’m visiting for 3 months) are not at all as you post. Many are college grads, working long hours in very low paying, not degreed related, jobs, if they have one at all. Most cannot find any job and beg me to find them something in the USA. Unemployment is about 47%! They all want to leave. I can see very young ones being discouraged.
      I keep showing them the need for better tourist promotion, services, and opportunities that would help Italy, the cities (I’m mostly visiting small ones) and the un or under employed. (As Rick’s post describes.)
      Italian red tape makes it almost impossible, and they don’t encourage entrepreneurial ideas.

    • Yes, you’re right…we tend to give Italy a lot of leeway because we’re all so enchanted. But sometimes enough is enough, and as you say, in the end it’s up to the individuals to change their own mindset if the country is to move forward. Too many want the government to change things for them instead of taking responsibility for themselves.

  • Hi Rick,
    I was in Florence just few weeks ago. Yeah I can sympathize with your frustrations. I remember once I took my family to Pompeii only to discovered that the Archeological park was closed because of meeting of the guides. Eventually they opened after an hour. Another time I took my wife to the Cappelle Medicee in Florence, and the guy that was working at the tickets boot was annoyed because I interrupt him whike paper he was working on his crossword puzzle. The Settimana Enigmistica, the mother of all the crossword puzzle in Italy.
    Roba da pazzi!!
    Enjoy your time in Italy and take it easy.
    Ciao Marco

    • Thanks Marco! Yes, overall we’re enjoying our Grand Tour very much…I hope that comes through in most of my posts. But I also want to “warn” people to expect some challenges and be ready to adapt. Ciao!

  • Oh Rick – I want to say that i cannot believe it but I can!!!and I know that exact uphill road you are talking about because I was exhausted after walking it in the heat last September! Incredible!! – Glad you persevered to actually enjoy these ancient temples…I am laughing because you let us in on your frustrations in such a humorous way. Thank you for sharing the good with the bad of Sicily!!!

  • Hi Rick, mmmm i think i may have ruffled a few feathers 🙂 As an aussie/italian who ran away from home a few years ago i have become madly passionately defensive of italy. Probably not rational at times i know but i really believe in her. Yes, i too have had many frustrating episodes. My partner live on this island of Lipari (Isole Eolie) and I am in Rome for work. I have experience many highs and lows during the years but i can only say that my love for this country is probably like a mother feels about her child. A bit biased but with only the best of intentions. Yes She drives me crazy but I will always see through the negative to find the positives in her. I enjoy your blog and look forward to all of your posts. May i suggest that you get to the island sometime? The history and landscape are beyond all expectations. In boca a lupo for your future in writing 🙂

    • Don’t ever worry about ruffling feathers on my blog (or Facebook page)!! All opinions are welcomed, as long as they’re genuine. I, too, want to see the positive side…and in fact, most of my posts ARE positive. But we’re not doing anybody any favors by denying the truth. An honest discussion is needed, I think.

  • Hi Rick, I am in Italy right now. Actually Tuscany. As I read your post I cannot help but nod my head and think of several experiences I have had over the past 5 weeks. Tourism is Italy’s most important industry and yet so many times us tourists are treated very poorly. I will say that I have had many great experiences particularly here in Bagni di Lucca but, I feel sad about some of the attitudes that I have seen. I know that tourists can be very rude also but I am not, so please treat me as nicely as I am to you. Some of the procedures and facilities are so antiquated I feel as tho I am in a time warp. Some days that is delightful but some days it does not work for me. Yes, this is 2014. Italy is one of the top destinations in the world but Italy needs to try a little harder to hold that title.

    • All so true, Lyn. The thing is, people still come to Italy, even if they aren’t always so welcomed, because it is truly amazing here. But sooner or later, this sentiment will fade. And then what?

  • Oh Rick, how I feel your pain! Twenty-two months in Turkey, and the same exasperation can be had… it’s just the culture, or so we “chalk” it up to. The best saying I have come up with when some odd, silly, infuriating, just-plain-stupid, makes-no-sense, absurd thing happens, is to add a little levity to help it all get better. This is done by saying: Welcome to Turkey!! The smile elicited doesn’t make the somewhat-disgust go away completely, but it certainly helps!

    Love your blog–one day perhaps I’ll have that Air Force assignment to Aviano!!

    • Thanks for your comments! Sounds like you’ve encountered similar challenges. Despite all that, I still enthusiastically endorse Italy for both tourists and expats. Hope you make it here eventually!!

      • Interesting and we have experienced similar things in Italy many times. The same is true for Spain, Egypt and many other countries. In all of the above the govt officials are the worst, but the rest of the folks are wonderful and helpful. We were in a hotel in Rome during the 9/11 events as US citizens. The owner of the small hotel said in the lobby that all Americans, there were about five of them, could stay and eat for free until they could get home.. We never forgot that and sure enough after about a week later, we left and were not billed!
        Never forgot that ever and will go back! Their byzantine bureaucracies
        are another thing…!

        • Very VERY good point. On the human level, you meet a lot of wonderful people. It’s the bureaucratic system that spoils it for everyone…especially their own citizens.

  • Just returned from 2 weeks in Northern Italy & Rome. All B&Bs and hostels said up front cash only. So everytime I saw an ATM I withdrew what I could. Got a chip & pin card before I went too. Good thing! Trains take ONLY thise & cash. Went to small towns by bus (cash only). ATMs hard to find! Loved Bergamo, Cinque Terre, Volterra, Colle Del’Vosta. Venice is worth a day, especially if you explore back alleys & stay on Lido. Leaning tower in Pisa is less than 6 blocks from train station. So if not staying there run over for pix then get back on the train. Rome was hectic, chaotic, crowded. Go direct to museum websites & purchase front of the line for best value on your own. Go with those selling tours with front of the line. Don’t give them money on the street. Legit ones take you back to their tour offices a block or so away.
    1st trip and had reservations Only in bergamo & rome. Pre-tourist season for us tho. Safe for us 2 women traveling alone by public transit.
    Do it again in a heartbeat! !!!

    • Whew! Your comment was as much of a whirlwind as your spin through Italy!! Sounds like a great trip, and you did yourselves a big favor by being prepared…brava!

  • Oh my friend, I can’t believe all the frustration you encountered in trying to enter the Valley of the Temples. Despite your trials and tribulations, I had to laugh at some of your comments! I am glad you kept your sense of humor despite the deteriorating circumstances. Personally, I would have felt so defeated and not sure I would have persisted the way did. You have given us all plenty to think about and glad you ranted a bit to enlighten us travelers. Glad all turned out well for you in the end!

  • Ahhhhh, Italy! It can lead you to pull your hair out, but teaches you tremendous patience while you’re going bald! Sounds like you’re having a great time. Wonderful posts, by the way! Sorry I missed you in Florence while spending time in your neck of the woods in Ostia Antica!

    • An Italian living in the USA has said Italy is a land of many laws and no rules. Didn’t make sense until we visited! ATM machines spit out money as requested, but in tourist areas we visited, they spit out €50’s. No one wants to give you change! We held on to smaller bills and often used the big bills for small purchases just to get change! The country, food and the people were just wonderful! It is this dichotomy that can drive one crazy!

      Still hoping I will be able to make a third trip!

      • Good points! Yes, as I often say, it’s a country of contests. Just when you’ve been tested to your limits, you see something amazing and make yourself believe that it’s all worthwhile.

  • Rick and Jessica :
    As you know Veda and I have been traveling through Sicily since May 28th and find everything that you have been lamenting to be true. We will probably get divorced when we get home. Otherwise the hotels, food and people have been great.

    • Ha, ha…I hope not! But yes, that’s the frustrating part…the people are great, the public/tourist offices are not. If it makes you feel better, Jessica is more frustrated than me!

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