The vast majority of Americans make only one or two trips to any given
country in Europe if they get there at all. Some of the others fall so
in love with one particular place that a lot of their time on repeat
visits is dedicated to that single location. It's natural that a high
percentage of the posts here concern the three most popular cities,
just as Paris posts are an overwhelming part of the French forum. But
a lot of us love Italy and have branched out beyond
Rome-Florence-Venice, and even beyond places covered in Rick's "Italy"
guide book. When asked for suggestions beyond the most obvious, we
have no trouble coming up with them.
If you read through this forum, skipping posts that--based on their
titles--seem to focus only on one of the big-three cities, you'll find
frequent mentions of places like Orvieto, Sicily, Tuscan villages,
Puglia, Siena, Lucca, Padua, Assisi, Ravenna, many towns around the
lakes, the Dolomites, and many more great places to visit. I don't
think you could find a spot in Italy that doesn't have a great
destination within 15 or 20 miles.
I had to copy this whole quote because acraven speaks my mission statement for traveling in Italy, if I had one.
I've been to Italy three times in 8 years, have not visited Venice yet but have been to Florence & Rome twice apiece. And while I love Rome & like Florence, I keep searching for something else. What, I keep asking myself. Is it the Italy I dreamed about for all the years until I finally went?
I realize I am searching for those moments where I say to myself 'this is why I have come'. They're mostly in unexpected places and at unexpected times...
...like in the aforementioned Umbrian hilltown of Orvieto, where in a tiny luncheon place, we had our wonderful cinghiale (wild boar) and homemade noodles sitting next to the sleeping family dog on the chair next to us.
...or in Greve-in-Chianti at Montagliari Winery, after a cooking class, when the chef, the guide and my wife & I sat with the doors open to the Tuscan valley, afternoon sun shining and fall breeze wafting in, totally relaxed after a huge meal and a copious amount of SuperTuscan rosso, just BS'ing about nothing in particular.
...or a cool, clammy March day on my personal heritage trip to the mountain village of Sant' Arsenio (SE of Salerno, a great small city of 135,000) when we were led to a walk-up in town that supposedly housed a distant relative. It wasn't true, but the old woman, dressed in black, asked us--perfect strangers--if we wanted to come up to lunch at her apartment anyway. We declined out of modesty and I still regret that decision.
I could go on all day, and my point is...you probably won't have an opportunity for those moments until you get out of the main cities. Oh, I suppose they can happen in the 'Big Three', but the non-publicized towns and villages and small cities give the traveler a sense of exploration & adventure, if only because one doesn't read about them in the travel books & blogs. Having this mentality simply can't be beat to my way of thinking.