Seeing so many itineraries on here that consist of Rome, Florence, Venice, and the Cinque Terre (or similar group) makes me wonder... I don't remember the Cinque Terre being discussed much at all 10 or 15 years ago. I wonder how much Rick Steves is personally responsible for attracting Americans there? I suppose one could do a research project based on old editions of various guidebooks, see how much coverage they gave and when, but who has the time. I know tons of people of all nationalities go there too, so it wasn't just Rick or other Anglophone writers who made it such a prime destination. Maybe just a "trend" of obscure origin?
Will, I expect that Rick is responsible for making people in this part of the world more aware of the Cinque Terre, especially as it's one of the main locations covered on his "Italy" tours. Vernazza especially is prominently featured on his PBS TV shows. However, in my experience people from other parts of Europe were aware of that area long ago. One of my Sons used to live in the U.K., and I heard about the C.T. from him long before I heard it from Rick. Also, judging by the number of people from "down under" and the orient that are herded into that area by tour operators, lots of people (who have never heard of Rick) are also aware of it. Cheers!
When I was growing up (many moons ago) I used to spend my summers in Versilia and often take day trips to the Cinque Terre from there. There were very few Americans there in those days and the place was idyllic. At most you would see American students studying in Tuscany and going there for a beach trip. Since Rick Steves started publicizing the place, there are more Americans than locals at the Cinque Terre, particularly in Vernazza, which I guess, is Rick's favorite. Most of them are Rick Steves' book toting tourists belonging to his cult. They are more numerous than the Hare Krishna in Florence (the Hare Krishna's European Headquarters is just outside Florence).
It may be easy to blame RS for the over-popularity of the CT, but this doesn't explain all the German and Italian tourists there. They aren'n carrying the little blue book.
One thing is for sure: among Americans, it wasn't widely known in the past. I have a Let's Go Italy from 1989, and the entire Cinque Terre region merits half a page. In the current one, it's more like 20 pages (I don't have it, but I looked out of curiosity). I always assumed it was Rick who put it on the tourist map, but it's interesting to learn from this thread that, while he may have done that for the US, tourists of various other nations have also discovered it (and they usually don't know who Rick is).
I wonder if there are any stats available to see if Americans make up a significantly higher percentage of visitors to the Cinque Terre than other parts of Italy...
I wonder if there are any stats available to see if Americans make up a significantly higher percentage of visitors to the Cinque Terre than other parts of Italy... I think stats would show Americans significantly outnumbered by Germans and other Italians...