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Disappointing Assisi

We have been traveling in Greece and Italy for the last two weeks having an amazing time until Assisi. We arrived at 4:00pm after spending an incredible day in Orvieto. Maybe it was bad luck, but we found almost every shop owner we met with to be extremely rude and uninterested. The topper were the waiters at Pizzeria I’l Menestrello, who when confronted about their behavior when we left actually told us they were treating us badly on purpose because we arrived earlier than 7:00 (which was in true). We were planning on spending two days in Assisi, but will leave for Sienna first thing in the morning without seeing any of the sites.

Posted by
6392 posts

Maybe it was bad luck...or maybe they had "tourism fatigue" and they were "over it". But who knows? How did you "confront the waiters about their behavior"? In general, putting anyone on the defensive (even if totally warranted) doesn't exactly produce warm and fuzzy feelings. Anyway, rude people "happen" and that's life.

I can't imagine missing out on sites and/or beauty of a town due to perceived behavior of a sliver of the population. I would sleep on it and give it another chance tomorrow. It's possible this was a "one off" and tomorrow you may feel differently.

Posted by
801 posts

I'm not saying you were at fault but for the past 16 years I have spent 2 weeks every year. I have found the people friendly, helpful, professional and at the same time fun to know. I also know that there can be a very low tolerance for rude behavior - that's true all over Italy and everywhere else. The wait staff at restaurants, trattorias and pizza places are there to take your order, bring you your food and pretty much ignore you (but if you are observant - they are always checking in case you need something). I always find it amusing that when it comes to getting the check from them, that's when they seem to be the most distant.

I see that this is your first posting on the travel forum. I wager that few, if any, have had the same experience in Assisi. 4 o'clock? You were lucky that they were even open!

Posted by
8293 posts

“......but we will leave Sienna first thing in the morning without seeing any of the sites.”

Cutting off nose to spite face.

Posted by
31137 posts

In all the time I've participated in this forum, I can't recall anyone saying they'd been treated so badly in Assisi (or anywhere else). Without being there, it's difficult to say what the problem was, but as always the only way to know is to hear both sides. I'd be interested to know how you "confronted" the waiters about their behaviour.

My experiences in Assisi have been much different. I found the people very hospitable and polite and very much enjoyed my time there. It's a shame you'll miss some of the great sights there. Hopefully you don't encounter similar "rude" behaviour in Siena or elsewhere.

Posted by
1538 posts

Lol
Hope you find Siena to your liking

We found Assisi friendly and delightful
To be honest Siena was not so much but we would never have let a bit of rudeness keep us from seeing Siena’s magnificent sights

Happy travels!

Posted by
135 posts

You have to go a long way to get an Umbrian to treat anyone in a surly way. I live nearby, and it just doesn't happen. Maybe the place wasn't really ready for customers; in that case it should have been explicit. But here's the thing--when in Rome... Italians do not go out to dinner until after 20:00, or 8 pm. You should adapt to their practices, unless there's some medical reason to eat so early. And don't diss the town because of one restaurant. It's a beautiful place and, especially after the day trippers have left, it's pretty magical.

PS, it's "Siena," not "Sienna."

Posted by
8293 posts

Siena not Sienna. Of course it is. Sorry about that. Covered in shame.

Posted by
135 posts

@Norma, not aimed at you. Yeah, ok, restaurants may be open, but they don't really expect people to show up. People, it's another country. You won't find disclaimers about hot surfaces near slides for the kiddies, you'll see people and cars whiz by quickly and in close proximity. You'll be served a cappuccino after your meal, but the staff will think much less of you. There may not be explicitly written notices about everything, but there are ways to do things, and a little studying before a trip goes a long way.

Posted by
4551 posts

We were planning on spending two days in Assisi, but will leave for Sienna first thing in the morning without seeing any of the sites.

It's such a shame that you have opted to miss the beautiful sites of this amazing city.

When I visited Assisi, I only encountered friendly, helpful, and generous people.

I'm sure the shop owners get overwhelmed with the crowds that descend on this city on a daily basis.
Having said this, I didn't have any negative experiences while browsing around the shops.

Posted by
24391 posts

I have an old battered straw hat that I bought in Assisi which reminds me when I put it on each summer of the wonderful time I had there both in the religious sites and in the town - as well as down the hill.

Posted by
1158 posts

We had a terribly rude waiter at a restaurant in Florence. Upset me for about ten minutes. Then we left and continued falling in love with Florence!

Posted by
11845 posts

If you didn't arrive until 4:00 - I'll assume you needed to check in and drop luggage - how many "rude" shop owners could you have encountered before 7:00?

Sorry your impression of Assisi was based on a negative experience with a restaurant...which I believe you've given a less-than-glowing review on TA. That said, there's NO way I'd skip out on the UNESCO World Heritage sites in a city that is a UNESCO World Heritage treasure itself just because of a less-than-wonderful couple of hours with the hospitality industry. Restaurants and shops are not what most visitors go to Assisi for?

Things may look look different after a good night's sleep so please try and give Assisi another chance in the morning?

Posted by
16 posts

A quick Google lookup of the place shows...

"Hours: A user suggested these hours: Mon-Sun 11:45AM–3PM and 7:15PM–12AM"

Their user data is not conclusive, but perhaps you accidentally did walk in when they were actually closed? I won't say it excuses the behavior you received, but this may explain it.

I hope the rest of your trip goes well.

Posted by
12020 posts

When I travel I always tell myself that the attitude of other people toward me is the reflection of my own attitude.

Even more so in your case, the name of the town would have given me a clue that maybe the ASS IS I.

Posted by
85 posts

I am sorry that you had an unpleasant experience. For the most part, we have found the people all over Italy to be kind and patient with our American idiosyncracies - with a few exceptions. To counter your unhappy memories of Assisi, I would like to share my more pleasant experience! I commented with my few words of broken Italian on how beautiful the flowers were that this dear old lady was watering on her balcony. She was delighted and went on for 15 minutes in what I'd call "machine-gun Italian" about her garden. I think I understood about every third word, but I smiled and nodded and went away with both of us satisfied with our interaction. Those are the kind of memories that i like to bring home from my traveling!

Posted by
3 posts

First thank you everyone for your kind words and comments. We were just as surprised as some of you. Others felt its was our fault not knowing the ins and outs of traveling in Italy or that we were the rude party. However, we are not strangers to Europe or Italy having been here many times. That is why the experience is so strange to us. It was premeditated poor service at the restaurant and bad luck at the shops. Maybe we’ll have better luck next time.

A bit on my travel resume. I was raised in a diplomatic family living in Europe and North Africa for more than 20 years. We lived in Athens, Algiers, Cairo and Geneva. We own a canal boat which is kept outside of Amsterdam as does my sister and husband. So living and traveling in Europe is not new to us.

The service was so bad and well executed at the restaurant I felt compelled to write a post.

What is meant by confront was asking the waiter what we did to upset them, this was asked in a very calm way. Just as calmly we were told the service was poor because we arrived before seven which was untrue. It was all very matter of fact. As a side note, We ate earlier than usual because it was raining.

That’s the story. We were wishing for a better time in Assisi, but not this time. We may try again the next time we pass this way.

.

Posted by
1575 posts

'Blame it on the moon?'

Two years ago, enjoying my wine at my fav restaurant in Rome, I observed something interesting, lol.

I was seated at a table for four. Normally, solo diners are seated at a table for two, but those tables were full.

With some animation, in came a troop. My waiter had the pleasure of seating (or trying to seat) them. There was a mix of couples and teens. It was crowded so all of them could not sit together -- even putting tables together. The woman was not happy.at.all. She was ranting at the waiter in Italian.

The waiter put the teens at one large table near me. He did his best. He escorted the adults to other tables around the wall towards the back. The woman was playing musical chairs.

The waiter was keeping his cool as the teens were a bit rowdy. They all had him running. I asked him if I should move so he could put a few of the adults at my table near the kids. He told me, "no, stay where I am. It's okay." I sat, drank my wine, waited for my food and watched the show.

The big group didn't stay a very long time. And, the same way they entered is the same way they left.

After, my waiter came over to me, rolled his eyes, shook his head and said, "phew!" I told him he deserves a raise. I asked him if they are regulars. He nodded and told me when they come in, they are always like that.

Posted by
31137 posts

coorm,

It's quite possible that you simply encountered restaurant staff that were just having a bad day, and they didn't mind taking it out on tourists or anyone else within earshot. I've encountered that a few times and my approach is simply to leave and find another restaurant, as obviously the rude ones aren't interested in my business. It's a shame that you missed out on the sights of Assisi though. Your "protest" in leaving early because of bad service at one restaurant only disadvantages you.

Posted by
6794 posts

will leave for Sienna first thing in the morning without seeing any of the sites.

That makes about as much sense as skipping seeing the Grand Canyon because 5 miles from the park entrance you got a flat tire and had to spend 30 minutes to change it.

Posted by
4498 posts

I must disagree that if we are in a country when people wait until the late hours to dine that we should adapt.

We prefer dining around 7 pm.

Haven't found a huge problem in Italy with dining around that time, but in Spain, it definitely can be a problem.

We have gone to restaurants that were recommended by TripAdvisor or a guidebook that didn't open until 9 pm.

Sorry, we are in our early 70s and we typically wake up early, like 7 am. Can't eat at 9 or 10 pm, since we usually go to bed around 10 pm. We are fairly active for our ages and walk a lot. When we are touring Europe, we can keep up with the younger folks, but that means we don't stay up late.

Our solution in Spain was instead of dining at 9 pm, to eat tapas around 6 pm.

Posted by
162 posts

Last May when I arrived in Asissi it was around 5 and nothing was open except for a cheese and wine shop. I asked how much for a 300 Gram plate of cheeses and was told 40 euros which is of course ridiculous. I was told that Americans don't understand quality and what quality food costs. I'm sure that didn't expect me to laugh out loud when I said that I basically agreed but in my case I know how much quality food costs in Italy. Very snarky and rude on their part but didn't affect my mood or my opinion of Assisi.
I loved Asissi. My b&b recommended a restaurant (cannot remember the name) in front of the fountain in the plaza. Wonderful food and service. I ate lunch and dinner for the days I was there. First meal my waiter took his jacket off and put it over my shoulders because it was a little cool saying " we still believe in kindess and courtesy here". By day 2 I had my favorite table saved for me and and my gluten free needs remembered. Of course my point to this is that a single unpleasant experience is not to going to ruin my time in an otherwise wonderful place and that my experiences in Italy have been overwhelmingly like how I was treated in the restaurant. I'm actually amazed that italians are as wonderful,kind and welcoming as they after exposure to vast numbers of tourists some of who are clueless at best or rude at worst.

Posted by
3 posts

I took everyone’s advice as well as taking the log out of my own eye and toured Assisi today. It was fantastic and the folks we met today were wonderful. We started with the walking tour by book and ended with the audio tour of the Basilica. Thank you Rick. We are now enjoy a beer and salad and will be heading north to parts unknown. Thanks again.

Posted by
11845 posts

I took everyone’s advice as well as taking the log out of my own eye
and toured Assisi today. It was fantastic and the folks we met today
were wonderful.

Ah, so things DID look a little sunnier in the morning, eh? 🌞

Applause for shaking off the previous day's pricklies and giving it another go! I'm delighted you didn't give Assisi's treasures the cold shoulder you felt you'd been given. 👍

Posted by
3112 posts

Good for you! Glad you were able to set aside that one bad experience and enjoy Assisi. What a wonderful city. I've always enjoyed my visits.

Posted by
1868 posts

I am glad you turned that incident around and enjoyed Assisi. We all have had bad and/or cranky days. And thank you for letting us know the final outcome of your stay. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Posted by
173 posts

My first experience in italy was a private boat ride in Venezia...after 12hrs on a plane I was escorted off on a private boat to Lido...I was looking at the beauty that was Venezia for the first time from the water. I thought my driver was just taking me to my hotel. After a few minutes of asking me where my hotel was he started to scream at me in italian. I didn't understand a word he said. I soon figured out that he wanted the hotel name...but that private boat ride from the airport into Venezia is still magical...even more so with an italian yelling at me in frustration...welcome to italy!

Posted by
124 posts

I had a wonderful visit to Assisi a few years ago. I am a veterinarian, so St. Francis holds a special place in my heart since he is the saint of animals.

I did notice when I walked into stores there, sometimes the clerk would avert their eyes. I learned some Italian before my trip, and I made an effort to say a few words of greeting. What a difference my efforts made!

I am retuning in July to Assisi so I can show my daughter this beautiful place. We have massages scheduled in town, and I'm also hoping for some great food. I don't speak Italian well, but I have found when I try, it opens unexpected doors.

Beth

Posted by
1833 posts

In small towns like Assisi, shopkeepers still expect customers to say Buongiorno when they enter. Or Good morning. Not Ciao, especially if the person behind the counter is older than you.

In big cities I say buongiorno, but most of the times nobody replies. Their fault.

Posted by
12 posts

Such a shame to miss Assisi. We have been there twice - 2016 and arrived there yesterday. We have found it to be not only a beautiful town, but a relaxing town despite the hordes of tourists who arrive daily.....and, it's only May! I think it's best to give people the benefit of the doubt. Who knows how their day has been or what their life circumstances are. Aside from that, rudeness or our perception of rudeness, is difficult to deal with for all of us. I have never met anyone rude or disinterested in our time in Assisi. If I need help, I attempt to use what little Italian I have - at least ask them in Italian if they speak English - and have always been met with a willingness to help. Hope you get another chance to experience the beautiful town of Assisi.

Posted by
1600 posts

My neighbor who has been to Italy several times, says a highlight for her on her first trip there was being yelled at not to touch the produce! Yes, a highlight for her! She loves the cultural differences.

Posted by
3 posts

My wife was adjusting her Sweater while we were in the Basilica of St. Francis. It was hot day last part by the lower doors. As soon as that sweater slipped off her exposed shoulders the security guards were all over her throwing her out. They obviously had been watching her since it happened so fast. Before i could respond our tour guide Anne was all over it to help in this situation. At the end it's a good story to tell that my wife was thrown out of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy.