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'Not even that ancient': The harshest TripAdvisor comments about Italy's sights

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
'Not even that ancient': The harshest TripAdvisor comments about Italy's sights
"When are they finishing it?" Rome's Colosseum is among the attractions which fail to impress some visitors. Photo by Nick Agee on Unsplash

From Roman ruins to grand Gothic palaces, Italy’s most popular tourist attractions welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors every year – but not everyone leaves satisfied.

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With its rich cultural heritage and plenty of art and architecture wonders, Italy draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from all corners of the world every year. 

But a quick scroll through the review section of travel website TripAdvisor will be enough to show that some of the country’s most famous attractions aren’t to everyone's taste.

Colosseum, Rome

It may be Italy’s biggest tourist attraction, but even the Colosseum – the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, dating back to 80 AD – fails to impress some.

“I came. I saw. I left,” wrote one reviewer, saying that looking at pictures of the building and reading about its history will spare you from “a long wait line, a port a john [sic] bathroom, and a big disappointment”.

READ ALSO: Nine tips for making the most of a Rome city break

Others were seemingly not so happy with the overall state of the attraction.

“[It] was a lot more broken than I thought it would be, at £15 a pop you’d think they’d invest in repairing it,” one wrote. 

“Not even got a roof? When they finishing it [sic]?” asked another. 

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Milan, Duomo 

Though it is often regarded as one of, if not the greatest example of Italian Gothic architecture, not everyone seems to be impressed by Milan’s Duomo cathedral. 

“The outside is gaudy and tacky as the worst of Las Vegas,” while “the inside is as bad taste as the outside” and not worth the wait, “even if they paid you”, one reviewer wrote.

READ ALSO: Stay away! How Europe's most popular spots are fighting overtourism

Another said the Duomo was no different than any “old cathedral” found in every European city, claiming that “pigeons watching [sic] is more exciting than this building”.

Speaking of pigeons, one tourist warned future visitors about the aggressiveness of the local bird population, saying that the area surrounding the Duomo is “swarming with thousands of pigeons that have long ago lost any fear of humans” and will “fly directly at your head”, forcing you to “take evasive action”.

Just another cathedral? The famed Duomo in Milan. Photo by Martin Anselmo on Unsplash

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Doge’s Palace, Venice

Venice’s Palazzo Ducale is the third most-visited tourist attraction in the country and arguably one of the best-preserved traces of the ancient Venetian Republic’s power. 

But the palace isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – at least judging from its reviews.

“When you go inside, there’s nothing to see except a lot of paintings on the ceilings and high on the walls. The paintings are impressive but very samey,” one reviewer wrote.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between Italy’s city taxes and new ‘tourist tax’?

“Really boring,” complained another, saying that the rooms were “bland” and “the view never got any better”. 

Other visitors said they were disappointed with some of their tour guides’ choices.

One wrote: “Our guide took pleasure in telling about people being tortured here. It was a bit grizzly [sic]. Personally I would give the place a miss.” 

Tourists sit under the archway of the Doge's Palace in Venice

The Doge's Palace in Venice, which some visitors found abit "samey". Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Pompeii 

Even the Pompeii archaeological site, which consists of the ruins of a city buried under volcanic ash following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, has its fair share of detractors.

A reviewer described the site as being “poorly paved street after poorly paved street of pretty much the same old same old terraced house over and over and over and over”.

Another said: “I really don’t get what the hype is about.

"It’s not even that ancient since they had to build so many structures around it to keep it standing. Even the freaking pillars didn’t make it (some barely did I guess).”

One reviewer even went as far as saying it was the “worst place” he’d ever visited, mentioning he had “too much ground to cover in sweltering heat” and he “should have stayed at the nice beaches of Vico Equense”. 

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Trevi Fountain, Rome

A prime example of Italian Baroque aesthetics, the Trevi fountain is one of Rome’s most widely recognised symbols worldwide, but not all visitors are impressed by it.

"It splashes and splashes. It spurtles and flows. It fountains and gurgles and is as romantic as my oldest pairs of smelly socks," wrote one reviewer, who concluded they felt "let down".

Tourists around Rome's Trevi Fountain

Tourists around Rome's Trevi Fountain in March 2024. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

That said, many reviewers expressed appreciation for the fountain’s architecture, but complained that their visit was ruined by hordes of fellow tourists. These complaints are far from unjustified given the attraction’s long-standing overcrowding issues

One reviewer suggested that “packing a pair of 8 foot stilts” may be the only way to “ensure a satisfying visit to the Trevi”.

Another called the attraction a “claustrophobia mecca” that’s “nearly impossible to deal with because of the thousands of pushy, sweaty, rude and large tourists”.

Have you seen a surprising review of an Italian landmark? Are there any Italian sights you think are overrated? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Comments (11)

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Thomas 2024/05/19 10:43
Spoiled, uncouth, uninspired, and hopelessly in need of bread and circuses to keep their ADD at bay. Stay home.
Linda Fucci 2024/05/16 21:36
Amazing that some people go to a place like the ones mentioned above looking for a Disneyland experience. The Milan Duomo and the history behind - all it went through during WWII - how could THAT not be amazing. And Pompeii - the history there - seeing that these people so long ago had some of the same things we have had/have today. There is so much history and beauty in Italy. I almost take offense at comments like above. Linda 2024/05/16
Kath 2024/05/16 20:38
Maybe these contributors should all stay home.
Max Alexander 2024/05/16 19:54
"It splashes and splashes. It spurtles and flows. It fountains and gurgles and is as romantic as my oldest pairs of smelly socks." I think this is haiku?
Cara 2024/05/16 19:53
Reading this article saddens me with regard to the quality of education our children are receiving. Yes, they are entitled to their opinions. The language of the comments suggest that their opinions lack any depth regarding the history of Italy. I am American. I live in Italy.
susan 2024/05/16 19:49
As far as I'm concerned, let them post bad comments. Maybe that'll cut down on the stupid tourists that keep trashing Italy
Dan Possumato 2024/05/16 19:20
I agree with the comment made by Mary Austern. While the article didn’t say, I’d wager most of the comments were made by clueless Americans. History, and the appreciation of it, is rarely taught in our schools anymore. So it’s not surprising that these comments reveal an astonishing lack of cultural understanding of why “old” things are important. The comments also show a lack of curiosity, indicative of limited fields of interests. I hope they made their trip to Italy their first and last one!
Keith Andreetti 2024/05/16 19:19
I find it extraordinary that people go to such trouble to visit these sites without bothering to find out anything about them beforehand. On my last visit to Venice I met an American family on the boat from the station who were convinced the buildings along the Grand Canal were the work of 'those pesky Romans'! Maybe some of the reported comments were intended as jokes but I fear not.
Philip 2024/05/16 19:17
Not everyone will appreciate history. Many places will feel overrated to those unable to understand or imagine the context as to when they were in their prime. It’s not Disneyland, but not everyone can appreciate that fact. Italy is more than the past. Beaches, mountains, lakes, islands, food and more are modern things that any tourist can enjoy. Focusing upon history alone misses so much of what’s on offer today. Unfortunately, many follow the paths of the 19th century aristocracy grand tour or a current fav tourist book from Rick Steves or the Lonely Planet. This may be okay for many, but there’s more on offer to be shared with the world? It’s not the fault of those who come. They don’t know. A new marketing approach to a new generation of visitor may be just what’s needed to counter such complaints?
Diderot 2024/05/16 19:15
I agree with the comment of Ms. Austern, below. Many people lack the curiosity and understanding to enjoy things to which they are not accustomed. Travel can be hugely rewarding but only if you approach it with an open mind. (That having been said, some of the toilet facilities in Italy can be not only problematic, but downright baffling. I recall something in Cremona that resembled a fish skeleton built into the floor. What do you do with that?)
Mary Austern 2024/05/16 16:23
I think we would all be happier if these people just stayed home. Their lack of understanding of what they are seeing is astonishing...except it's not. While it's true the handling of crowds (especially in toilet department) can always be improved, there seems to be no awareness in these malcontents. Pointing out deficiencies can be helpful in understanding problems, but I'm not reading any constructive input here. Go home!

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