Room in the Inn

October 04, 1991

Good news for tourists of cultivated taste. Rome, Florence and Venice had a lousy summer, business-wise, with hotel occupancy down one-fifth to one-third. According to reports, you could see a great work of art without ten people bumping you out of the way. It seems the Colosseum has lost its charm, the Uffizi Gallery is too long and the Grand Canal is all wet, at least for the increasing tourists who fancy Italy's beaches and mountains: God's art, not man's.

Part of the problem was that European tourism -- working-class Brits and Swedes who want to see a decent beach, unclad ladies and lots of sun -- was up, while Japanese and American tourism -- camera-swinging, big-spending culturati -- was down. In any case, the tourist industry is going to work to correct matters, modernize hospitality and refill the hotels at premium rates.

That's what Italians are doing. What Americans can do is go quickly, before they solve the problem.

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