Living in Italy http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it Hilarious Expat Adventures Thu, 03 May 2018 16:34:25 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 The Italians http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/the-italians/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/the-italians/#respond Thu, 03 May 2018 16:34:25 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=14630 “We created Italy. Now it remains to create the Italian.” These are the famous words of writer and politician Massimo d’Azeglio at the unification of Italy. Many modern day Italians do not think that 150 years of central government have succeeded in producing this Italian. „This is not Italy,” a guide told us once while […]

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“We created Italy. Now it remains to create the Italian.” These are the famous words of writer and politician Massimo d’Azeglio at the unification of Italy. Many modern day Italians do not think that 150 years of central government have succeeded in producing this Italian. „This is not Italy,” a guide told us once while we were visiting Sardinia. He was right, as a recent study of Italian genetics has shown.

East-West rather then North-South

italians italyThe universities of Ravenna and Bologna have investigated 900 genetic profiles of blood donors coming from all over Italy and, surprisingly, discovered that the major difference in origin is not between the north and the south but between east and west (more or less). The Lega Nord, striving for northern independence, always emphasizing the difference between the settentrionali (northerners) and the meridionali (southerners), therefore is wrong.

Our Sardinian guide was right, however, as the island turns out to have a unique genetic profile that has nothing in common with the mainland. For the island of Sicily this does not hold as a large number of peoples have populated it over the centuries.

 

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Volare – Domenico Modugno http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/modugno/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/modugno/#respond Sun, 29 Apr 2018 13:55:16 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=14523 In january this year Domenico Modugno, one of the most famous Italian singers of the twentieth century, would have celebrated his 90th birthday. Everybody knows his song Volare, although the original title is Nel blu dipinto di blu. With this song Modugno in 1958 won his first of four titles at the San Remo festival, […]

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domenico modugno volareIn january this year Domenico Modugno, one of the most famous Italian singers of the twentieth century, would have celebrated his 90th birthday. Everybody knows his song Volare, although the original title is Nel blu dipinto di blu. With this song Modugno in 1958 won his first of four titles at the San Remo festival, finished third at the European Songcontest and was rewarded two Grammy’s. His next win at San Remo was immediately next year with Piove, better known as Ciao ciao bambino, that also secured him a sixth place at the European Songcontest.

The Italian singer-songwriter

Modugno actually was one of the first Italian cantautori, singers who wrote their own songs. Some of his songs are in dialect, either of his birthplace Polignago a Mare or Neapolitan. These are particularly nice to listen to and not very difficult to decifer, once you get the hang of it. Take for instance Tu si’ ’na grande cosa’ with which Modugno won the festival of the Napoletan song:

Tu si’ ‘na cosa grande pe’ mme
‘na cosa ca me fa nnammura’
‘na cosa ca si tu guard”a mme
je me ne moro accussi’
guardanno a tte
vurria sape’ ‘na cosa da te
pecche’ quanno i’ te guardo accussi’
si pure tu te siente ‘e muri’
nun m”o ddice
e nun m”o faje capi’, ma pecche’.
e dillo ‘na vota sola
si pure tu staje tremmanno
dillo ca me vuoi bene
comm’io, comm’io,
comm’io voglio bene a tte…
tu si’ ‘na cosa grande pe’ mme
‘na cosa ca tu stessa nun saje
‘na cosa ca nun aggio avuto maje
nu bene accussi’, accussi’ grande…
si pure tu te siente ‘e muri’
nun m”o ddice
e nun m”o faje capi’, ma pecche’.
e dillo ‘na vota sola
si pure tu staje tremmanno
dillo ca me vuoi bene
comm’io, comm’io,
comm’io voglio bene a tte…
tu si’ ‘na cosa grande pe’ mme
‘na cosa ca tu stessa nun saje
‘na cosa ca nun aggio avuto maje
nu bene accussi’, accussi’ grande
accussi’ grande,
accussi’ grande

Reading it aloud, you quickly understand some of the dialect vocabularly: si’=sei, ’na=una, pe’=per, ca=che, nnammura’=innammorare, accussi’=così, etc.

modugno polignanoModugno, who was also an actor and a member of parliament for a short time, died in 1994 of a heart attack. He was a master of the light song, making you marvel at his descriptions of simple life and his funny music. Just listen to ’Zitto zitto doce doce’ and try not to smile. Impossible. Whenever in a bad mood, apply a few songs of Domenico Modugno. Success guaranteed!

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A New Book: “MALINTESO: Crazy Misunderstandings When Trying to Speak Italian” http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/learning-italian/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/learning-italian/#comments Mon, 26 Mar 2018 12:07:24 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=12764 Great News! I just published my second book about Italy, called MALINTESO: Crazy Misunderstandings When Trying to Speak Italian. Now with an (temporary) Introductory Promo-price of only $0.99! Learning Italian in Practice Without any pretence, this book is devoted to a number of amusing accounts and anecdotes about the Italian language. Ever since I moved […]

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learning italian languageGreat News! I just published my second book about Italy, called MALINTESO: Crazy Misunderstandings When Trying to Speak Italian. Now with an (temporary) Introductory Promo-price of only $0.99!

Learning Italian in Practice

Without any pretence, this book is devoted to a number of amusing accounts and anecdotes about the Italian language. Ever since I moved to Italy, I have quite often come across words and phrases which I never knew existed and never learnt in my Italian lessons, probably because they seemed unimportant at the time. After all, grammar was the be-all and end-all of learning the language! However, it’s these finer points that make it so interesting. Using the alphabet as my guide, this book provides a miscellany of information, for each letter one or more short anecdotes.

A for Andrea

For example, the A is represented by a story about the name Andrea that confused me a lot:

“I couldn’t make head or tail of it. The question was about a ‘he’ and a ‘she’, but which one was the ‘he’? The conversation I had just listened to made no reference to a man, only to Roberta and Andrea. Nonplussed, I made a guess and placed a cross against one of the two possible answers. Probably wrong, but never mind. I was sitting the aural exam at the University of Utrecht in which I had to answer ten questions on short exchanges I’d just been listening to on the headphones. Although scant attention had been paid to listening skills on the Italian course I’d been following, I was confident about all my answers, except for that one question. After the exam, a number of us got together, discussing the possible stumbling blocks and pondering on whether we’d passed or not. Strangely, none of my fellow students mentioned the one impossible question I had slipped up on. Not wanting to embarrass myself in the group, I eventually summoned up the courage to take aside the student with whom I felt most comfortable and ask her how she’d tackled the question.” Continued in the book.

An interesting follow-up of my best-selling book Living in Italy: the Real Deal!

Living in Italy: the Real Deal - Expat Stories

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La Colomba – The traditional Italian dolce for Easter http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/italian-easter/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/italian-easter/#respond Sat, 24 Mar 2018 11:24:20 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=12703 The period of Easter naturally is one if the most important festive days in a catholic country like Italy. Masses and processions are part of the menu in all villages, however small. And there is the inevitable pranzo or lunch of course! All generations of every family come together to celebrate Easter at home or […]

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colomba easter italian dolceThe period of Easter naturally is one if the most important festive days in a catholic country like Italy. Masses and processions are part of the menu in all villages, however small. And there is the inevitable pranzo or lunch of course! All generations of every family come together to celebrate Easter at home or in a restaurant. Be sure to make a reservation weeks in advance as all tables will be booked on the day itself.

The Easter Dove or Colomba

The Easter dove or colomba longobard alboino paviaThe traditional dolce of Easter is the colomba or dove. It is a type of sweet cake, not unlike the panettone of Christmas, albeit in the form of a dove. Legend has it that it was invented or became known when the Longobards (we are talking deep Middle Ages here) took in the city of Pavia after a siege of months. To convince the Longobard king Albuin not to kill them, the inhabitants decided to prepare a delicious, irresistable sweet bread for him in the form of a dove, the symbol of peace. And it worked! Another variant has it that the colomba was the result of the visit of the Irish monk San Colombano to Pavia, who, refusing the rich meat dishes offered him by the Longobard queen Teodolinda, turned them into the sweet cake bread that from then on was named after him. There are still other legends about the origin of the colomba so who knows which one is true?

Whatever the true story is, in the 1930’s the Milanese entrepreneur Motta decided to produce the colomba on a large scale as a dessert for Easter. Nowadays you will find a large choice of different types of colomba in every supermarket. You can make one yourself, following the traditional receipe (see mytravelintuscany.com) but in Italy you can often get one for 1 euro if you spend a certain minimum amount of money in the supermarket, so why bother?

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Tiramisu Day – Celebrating Italy’s Most Famous Dessert http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/tiramisu/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/tiramisu/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 13:06:05 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=12317 Every day is a tiramisu day, most people seem to think, given the immense popularity of this Italian dolce. It is difficult to find an Italian restaurant outside of Italy that does not offer this favorite. But since last year there is a special day dedicated to tiramisu as well: the 21rst of March. Just […]

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Every day is a tiramisu day, most people seem to think, given the immense popularity of this Italian dolce. It is difficult to find an Italian restaurant outside of Italy that does not offer this favorite. But since last year there is a special day dedicated to tiramisu as well: the 21rst of March. Just as there are special days for Nutella (February 5) and pasta (October 25). It is hard to believe that the most famous of all Italian desserts was invented less than 50 years ago.

Origin of the tiramisu dolce

There are a few different stories about by whom and where the first tiramisu was made, but the name clearly originates from the city of Treviso. One of the several traditional receipes that inspired the inventor, apparently Loly Linguanotte (jolly name!) of the Alle Beccherie restaurant in Treviso, to create tiramisu was the Trevisian sbatudin: whipped egg yolk with sugar, used to help recover weak children, eldery and ill, to ’pull them up’ as it were. Other desserts that seem to have inspired Loly seem to be the zuppa inglese (from Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany), the French charlotte and a Bavarian dessert as well. The date of the invention can be traced back to 1970.

Tiramisu classical receipe

There are a lot of variants of tiramisu nowadays (everybody wants to invent his own classic apparently), but the classical one contains only the following ingredients (6-8 servings):

  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • 150 gram or 5 ounces of sugar
  • 500 gram or 18 ounces of mascarpone cheese
  • 4 spoonfulls Marsala, optional
  • 300 grams or 11 ounces of ladyfingers
  • 4 brewed espresso lungo at room temperature
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, for garnish

Preparation of the Tiramisu

Put the sugar and the egg yolks in a large bowl. Beat well until the mixture is light and creamy. Add mascarpone and half of marsala, and beat well. Beat the egg whites until stiff and add them in the mascarpone cream. Mix gently.

Pour the espresso in a shallow dish along with the remaining marsala. Stir well. Quick dip each ladyfinger in the espresso mixture turning for a few secs until they are nicely soaked.

Line these in the bottom of a glass dish until you have used half of the biscuits. Spread over half of the cream. Cover with the remaining biscuits and spread over the remaining cream. Dust with the cocoa.

Chill in the fridge for 4-5 hours or better overnight.

Buon Appetito! Enjoy! And not only on the 21rst of March!

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10 Indispensable Expert Tips for Aspiring Italy Expats http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/10-tips-buying-italy/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/10-tips-buying-italy/#comments Sun, 11 Mar 2018 12:12:27 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=11891  When we moved to Italy in 2008 we learned a lot fast. The process might have gone smoother if we had known some things beforehand. In this post I share our most important insights for those who think about moving to Italy. Learn the language BEFORE you make the move. Although Italians learn English at […]

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 When we moved to Italy in 2008 we learned a lot fast. The process might have gone smoother if we had known some things beforehand. In this post I share our most important insights for those who think about moving to Italy.

  1. Learn the language BEFORE you make the move.
    Although Italians learn English at school, they do not practice (all foreign language series and films on TV are dubbed) and forget most of it in real life. Professionals especially prefer to express themselves in Italian rather than English. And you’ll enjoy your stay much more;
  2. Read as much as you can about the horror stories of other people who bought or tried to buy a house in Italy. There are books (such as mine) and you’ll find a lot on the internet as well;
  3. Buy a practical how-to book about buying a house in Italy and study it carefully. You may have to read it over and over again to get familiar with the technicalities and jargon of the buying process;
  4. Employ a geometra, which is an officially recognized technical engineer. Find your own, do not rely on one provided or by the seller or real estate agent. He should be the single one person you can trust in the process.
  5. Get a codice fiscale C.F. tax identity number as soon as you can. Without it you do not exist as far as Italian official institutes are concerned. The Agenzie delle Entrate can provide it but you better try the Italian consulate or embassy in your home country first;
  6. Make Italian friends, talk about your plans when you are in Italy and ask fir advice. Most people will come up with names of reliable people you may need, technicians, builders, plumbers etc. Or they can tell you things about the house you are interested in;
  7. Never trust the real estate agent of the seller, who is per force also yours! Have everything checked by your geometra. Make sure you understand every detail of the buying process (see 3);
  8. Do not expect things to run smoothly, promises will be broken, time limits neglected, assurances. The whole process is likely to take twice as much time as you originally think;
  9. Keep in contact with all reponsibles involved to let them know you are on to them so they won’t ’forget’ you and deliver what they promised;
  10. Negotiate about the 3% commission the real estate (of the seller!) will ask from you. Whatever he will state about it, it is perfectly legal and normal to ask for a reduction.

And:
If you want to have a good laugh and know how we did it? Read my book Living in Italy: the Real Deal.

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Montalbano sono – An Italian Crime TV Drama http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/montalbano-crime-tv-drama/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/montalbano-crime-tv-drama/#respond Wed, 07 Mar 2018 15:45:01 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=11877 The most popular of all homemade TV series in Italy is without a doubt Il Commissario Montalbano, a crime TV drama which has a ’share’ of 45% as the Italians call it. This means that half of the population watches each new episode. A crime tv drama situated in Sicily The character of the moody […]

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montalbano tv crime dramaThe most popular of all homemade TV series in Italy is without a doubt Il Commissario Montalbano, a crime TV drama which has a ’share’ of 45% as the Italians call it. This means that half of the population watches each new episode.

A crime tv drama situated in Sicily

andrea camilleri montalbanoThe character of the moody Sicilian police investigator Salvo Montalbano was invented by writer Andrea Camilleri, now in his eighties. His books about the moody cop became so popular the Rai decided to start a series about him some 15 years ago. Each puntata, episode has the length of a full movie and every year only a few new ones are released. The stories all are situated in the ficticious city of Vigata in Sicily. The home of Montalbano plays an important role in the series and actually lies in the city of Porto Empedocle. It has become a major tourist spot and the city has recently decided to rename itself to Porto Empedocle-Vigata. The house was turned into a bed and breakfast so you have the chance to sleep in Montalbano’s bed. Unfortunately without the good-looking commissario, played by actor Luca Zingaretti (his look-alike brother is in politics and has just been chosen regional governor for the second time).

Italian customs and humor

italian foodThe series largely achieved its popularity, I think, as a result of the humor with which the author has spiced his stories. It is also a comedy of typically Italian customs and therefore very interesting for expats like me. Montalbano e.g. is a goloso, a food addict and considers his time for lunch and dinner as sacred, more important than his real work. And so in the series, of course, he is constantly disturbed while eating. When his single favorite restaurant has to close Montalbano isn’t sorry for the owner but angry because he denies him his holy lunch. „E adesso, che faccio? And now what am I to do?” he asks the owner in an accusing tone.

A moral dilemma … of sorts

cast crime tv seriesAnd of course all male characters in the series are womanizers, Montalbano’s colleague Augello (Mimì) being the expert. Although engaged he has affairs with lots of women, sometimes with those under investigation! His crisis arrives when his fiancee is expecting him to ask her to marry her. What should he do? He doesn’t want to lose her but once married he cannot possibly continue having affairs. Or at least not that many … a moral dilemma! In panic he consults Montalbano who as a man that recognizes the problem takes it seriously but also makes fun of it.

The very intriguing Sicilian music of Olivia Sellerio has elements of Arabic, Jewish and gypsy tradition, reflecting the island’s history as a melting pot of all Mediterranean cultures. It reminds one of the compositions of Fellini’s one-time favorite Nino Rota.

There is a lot more to say about this very entertaining crime drama, but you should better see it for yourself. There are dvd’s on the market, but some episodes are available on the Internet as well. With subtitles to help you understand the text, that has some elements of Sicilian dialect. Learn some Italian while enjoying yourself! Highly recommended.

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Alle Urne! The Italian Elections (again) http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/italian-elections/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/italian-elections/#comments Sat, 03 Mar 2018 12:03:54 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=11541 After years of governments that were not chosen by the Italians, partly a result of the major financial crisis in 2011 that forced the Italian president Napolitano to remove Berlusconi out of office, the voters finally are going to have their say again about who is to lead the country tomorrow. A lot has happened […]

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italian politicsAfter years of governments that were not chosen by the Italians, partly a result of the major financial crisis in 2011 that forced the Italian president Napolitano to remove Berlusconi out of office, the voters finally are going to have their say again about who is to lead the country tomorrow. A lot has happened since 2011, not the least of this the rise and fall of Italians youngest and most ambitious premier Matteo Renzi, who at the time is only the social-democrats’ party secretary. Fortunately the election system has been modified as well, after ten years of struggle. It had to be changed after the Constitutional Court had declared it unconstitutional, which also meant that all governments since 2006 when Berlusconi designed this law were illegitimate. Don’t you just love Italy? Better (still) is that finally, finally, the Italian economy is growing again and unemployment is falling, albeit piano piano, slowly.

Prediction of the election result

Who is going to win? Of course nobody knows. The unreliable polls predict the right-wing coalition of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia with the extreme right Lega (former Lega Nord) and a few small semi-fascist parties to attract the most votes. The 36- 37% they are believed to obtain will however not likely be enough to gain a majority in parliament. The same holds for the new populist Cinque Sterre Five Star movement (founded by comedian Grillo) and the social-democrats PD, who lost their most leftist wing after an internal struggle. It is not even likely that in the case PD and Five Star movement would collaborate they would achieve a majority.


A hung parliament is the most likely outcome,
which leaves the final decision to the president, Matarella, ironically the inventer of the election law in function before Berlusconi introduced the unconstitutional one. Which is such a pity as the new law would finally allow a majority coalition to have power in both houses, Chamber of Deputies and Senate. The fact that this was virtually impossible with the old law is the cause of Italy’s ungovernability during the last decade. But the rise of the Five Star movement has split the political in three, replacing the ancient left-right division.

Where is Berlusconi?italy elections

One thing is sure: Berlusconi is not going to be the next premier as he is not allowed to be elected as a result of a conviction (yes, they finally managed to catch him) in 2013 and a new law introduced in 2012. But one may be sure he’ll be active on the background. For him the only threat comes from within his own coalition: if the Lega gets more votes than Forza Italia its leader Salvini will want to take control. What happens then, nobody knows. Berlusconi might even decide to break up and switch to another coalition. Nothing is unthinkable in politics, especially so in the Italian version of this game. Exciting it is going to be, that is for sure. Keep posted!

(For those interested in the, complicated, new election system, see the wikipedia article)

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The Bonarda Oltrepo Pavese DOC – A red prosecco for happy occasions http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/bonarda-oltrepo-pavese/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/bonarda-oltrepo-pavese/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 19:48:08 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=9927 The unknown Oltrepò Pavese wine region south of Milan produces a range of DOC wines and a spumante DOCG. Some of the wines are typical of the area like the sparkling, young and fruity Bonarda. This wine, made of the croatina grape, is hardly known abroad as the wineries mainly produced it for local consumption. […]

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bbq barbecue bonardaThe unknown Oltrepò Pavese wine region south of Milan produces a range of DOC wines and a spumante DOCG. Some of the wines are typical of the area like the sparkling, young and fruity Bonarda. This wine, made of the croatina grape, is hardly known abroad as the wineries mainly produced it for local consumption. People of region or even Milan passed by to have the winemaker fill their damigiane, casks.

Bonarda, fresh, fruity, frizzante

bonarda agnes It is a fresh wine, to be served cooled, easy drinkable on a late summer afternoon or with most types of food. A typical table or farmers’ wine. But the last 10 – 15 years the quality of this and other wines of the region has increased significantly. A proof of this has been the Tre Bicchieri that Il Gambero Rosso (the Italian Michelin) in 2017 awarded the bonarda Campo del Monte of the Fratelli Agnes winery. The first time a bonarda received the highest recognition possible. One might consider the bonarda as a red alternative of the ever present white prosecco. Ideal for a barbecue outside in the warm evening!

spumante natureReasons enough to try this happy wine in case you manage to lay hands on a bottle! And if you still prefer white (or rosé), forget the prosecco and try the DOCG Metodo Classico spumante of the Oltrepo. The Nature of winehouse Monsupello was chosen by, again, the Gambero Rosso as the best spumante of the whole of Italy in 2015.

Salute e Cin Cin!

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Too Many Turists in Italy – How to Avoid the Crowd http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/italy-turism/ http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/italy-turism/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 14:49:39 +0000 http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/?p=9882 Last year some alarms went off in Italy: there were too many turists visiting the most famous sights, like Venice, Florence, Rome, the Cinque Terre, the Lombardy Lakes etc. The crowds were just becoming too large to be able for these cities and areas to cope. Venice was becoming uninhabitable and the original Venetians were […]

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crowds italyLast year some alarms went off in Italy: there were too many turists visiting the most famous sights, like Venice, Florence, Rome, the Cinque Terre, the Lombardy Lakes etc. The crowds were just becoming too large to be able for these cities and areas to cope. Venice was becoming uninhabitable and the original Venetians were fleeing the city. In a few decades the worlds most famous city would become a sort of Disneyland, overcrowded during the day, empty at night. A horror scenario. Some measures are now being taken to reduce the inflow and dampen the turist tsunami. On the small footpaths of the Cinque Terre now only a limited number of visitors is allowed during a day: you need a ticket to get in.

 

How to Avoid the Crowd

turists italyIf you hate crowds you can still enjoy Italy if you look for the less well-known spots. Where they are you can find using the very nice interactive graph by Filippo Mastroianni on Tableau.com for Banca d’Italia. Have a look there to find the quiet provinces and rest assured: there is something beautiful and authentic to discover everywhere in Italy!

The same Banca d’Italia also provides a table with the number of foreign visitors by province (the smallest adminstrative division except for comune) which helps to get a more detailed insight. As you can see the top sights are the usual suspects: Rome, Milan, Florence, but also Como, Bolzano, Varese. The province we live in is one of the quietest (52nd of 128) and then the city of Pavia is likely to take in most of these, making our wine region in the south one of the less visited ones of Italy.

Come and relax in the beautiful and quiet Oltrepò Pavese!

oltrepo pavese

Living in Italy: the Real Deal - Expat Stories

Would you like to know how we found our house and moved to Italy? Then read our book!

The post Too Many Turists in Italy – How to Avoid the Crowd appeared first on Living in Italy.

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