"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice...I will choose a path that's clear...I will choose freewill."
And thank you, Neil Peart
If I'm going all the way to Europe, I want to 'see stuff' (and I don't mean some arbitrary checklist) - museums, major sites of whatever kind, have easy access to transportation (air, train, bus, rental cars), and maybe some 'big city amenities' (travel services, grocery stores and other shopping open late/on Sundays, etc.). Many people don't want to be in BFE Tuscany where there are NO buses running that particular day, the town is completely shut down, not enough English spoken, and they have a painful ear infection; they want to walk down the street to the pharmacy and/or see a 24/7 doctor. I personally like to check out smaller towns in between the cities, if possible, but they'll have to have something to offer besides simply 'NOT being a city'. I don't go to Europe for a relaxing vacation; I spend months studying what I want to see and then I go and see it. (When someone pokes his head into a building at Pompeii, glances around disinterestedly, then goes on his way, I have to resist the urge to go grab him, hold him there for 30 minutes, and explain to him the what and why he is looking at and why it's so important/unique/etc. LOL! ) I don't set out on My European Adventure meaning to only hit the big cities. If I come across a small town with something of interest to me, then I'll happily go there. Got Mosaics/Frescoes, Will Travel to your tiny hamlet ;-)
I get plenty of scenic vistas in my cities, and am reasonably knowledgable, and I don't think knowledge means much when it comes to Cities vs Small Towns. I think it's absolutely understandable that a first-timer hit The Big Ones on their first trip, and that tour companies do, too. There is a market somewhere for the 'Hallstatt/Bogny-sur-Meuse/Breisach' tour, but it's tiny. If I have a choice in my first, second, or even third trip to Europe to see Paris or Sambuca, I'm going to Paris. Hopefully, I can get to Sambuca One Day while traveling between Siena and Florence...but not at the expense of Paris. I know - some of you are yelling, "What about 'at the expense of Sambuca?!?'" LOL! C'est la vie, que será será, variety is the spice of life, and all that...
When traveling in the USA, I usually end up in a smaller place, simply because we want to spend a relaxing week in a cabin in the woods, at the beach, or within/near a state or nat'l park. We also try to choose places that are within a day's drive, NOT an ordeal over The Big Blue. An ordeal over The Big Blue for me means an itinerary, and that's typically found in a larger city/metropolitan area.