Lungo l’Italia in diretta!

I’ve enjoyed yet another primo Italian experience. Especially at base camp – in the Cinque Terre village of Monterosso, where the locals are super friendly, the food is great and it’s not too crowded. If you visit Monterosso, don’t miss the family owned Miky, one of the top ten Italian restaurants I’ve ever eaten at period. Their tuna tartar aperitivo and tuna steak portata principale are just marvelous. Great presentation and service, too.

I’ve now experienced the prologue to what will inevitably be a long, hot summer season with an endless tsunami of flag waving tourist groups, hiking stick clenching retirees and pizza craving Americans – arriving daily in the tens of thousands via trains, buses and cars from all over the world.

I caught a glimpse of how badly the hordes of visitors can behave a few times in two of the four visited villages, and it ain’t pretty. I honestly feel hesitant about even recommending a visit during this time of year. November would probably be considerably calmer and therefor a more enjoyable time to visit Cinque Terre.

The regional government in Liguria needs to put a quota in place to limit the amount of visitors here and by doing so, provide the spectacular beauty this place has to offer some well-needed space. I’ve heard that there are in fact talks of a quota – at least along the trails between villages – but I can only assume that greed is a strong, resilient opponent to limiting the amount of tourists.

I spent more or less ten years of my life working in the hotel and restaurant industry and so, wherever I travel, I try to make an effort to be a good ambassador – as both an American and a Swede. I aim simply to be the kind of guest that makes a good impression just by being genuinely friendly and polite. Simple enough.

Where many other visitors – primarily Germans and Americans – tend to be both boisterous and arrogantly demanding of locals working in the tourism industry, I’ll make an extra effort to show empathy and abide by the their way of doing things – a strategy that generally pays off really well. Like waiting to be seated as opposed to bulldozing my way into a restaurant or bar and expecting to be served pronto. Or, trying to greet and thank people in the local tongue instead of arrogantly assuming my language is the “lingua franca”.

I get that most Chinese tourists don’t have much experience at traveling abroad. And that they have an entirely different set of etiquette rules that dictate their social behavior – regardless of where they are geographically.

But the obnoxious attitude of many of my fellow countrymen I’ve encountered here, is nothing short of disgraceful. The old cliché about Americans being embarrassingly ignorant, boastful and deafeningly loud? It’s alive and well. In their defense, I suppose one could argue that the vast majority of Americans traveling abroad also come from rural parts of the country and that their over-the-top behavior is just a sign of insecurity. But when I think about it some more, the exaggerated behavior seems familiar, somehow. It’s really not too dissimilar from that of the next Republican presidential candidate.

Speaking of which, Louis CK has a few well-chosen words about Mr Trump. Get them here.