More and more Americans are visiting Italy not to see the sites of ancient Rome but to taste the delights of the rest of the country, according to a new survey. Not only are long waits under the hot summer sun to get into sites such as the Colosseum turning visitors away, but the attractions of good wine, pasta and Parmesan cheese are drawing people to other, lesser-known destinations.
A little over a quarter of those surveyed said they were choosing alternative locations because they wanted to get to know Italian cuisine better. Another 21 percent said it was much more relaxing to be in the countryside eating wholesome Italian food after leaving stressful jobs and unhealthy diets in the United States.
And 17 percent said they were following in the footsteps of their Hollywood heroes. For years, Hollywood stars have enjoyed low-key vacations at quiet but luxurious villas in rural Italy, and it appears the trend is rubbing off on Americans. Americans are realizing that the Mediterranean diet is the best way to stay in shape and that courses in Italian cooking are better for handling stress than visiting a psychologist,* a statement accompanying the survey said.