Unfortunately, at least in the North, the summer has been like autumn: a sequence of cold and rainy days which have further afflicted our already depressed mood, as if there had been any need for it.
I was in the mountains in Corvara, a fashionable location which generally does not suffer from poor occupancy; this year, however, there were few tourists around, and many long-faced hotel managers. Over the course of time, the village has made an effort to accommodate a demanding clientele. Far is the time, for example, when shops closed for lunch at noon, according to the countryside culture, and on Sundays and festive days there was not even a chance to buy a newspaper. The place is now definitely more dynamic, and more expensive – to the point that it sounds rather funny, during the events organised by the tourist board, to hear introductions made both in Italian and German. Where are the Germans now? Because of the nearly ubiquitous economic crisis, and given the lower prices applied by our neighbours beyond the Alps, for their mountain holidays they rather choose Austria or Slovakia, or they stay in Germany.
The seaside, at least in the North, was even more severely affected by the poor weather conditions, and there are, indeed, few places which are set to close this season with a gain.
Cities, and art cities in particular, have to some extent benefited from this situation, as Italian tourists have come to prefer short-range holidays and weekends. Milan, for example, has not been a closed-for-holidays city for years, and travellers have noticed it. A hotel manager told me in conversation that they had several no-vacancy days also in August.
Why, then, do so many hotels, even in central areas, close for a shorter or longer period like in the past decades? As I walked in front of a fine hotel, I noticed that they had - sloppily - not even taken pains to post a notice showing the closing and reopening dates, as is generally done. They had simply let the shutter down.
We are all waiting for Expo 2015, but we know it will not be a panacea against all evils; if we wish to enjoy its benefits in the following years, we need to change the old ways of approaching the market. For once, I agreed with Milan’s Councillor for Commerce when he provocatively said – in the polemic raised by Vittorio Sgarbi on the expressed fear that the Riace Bronzes may not be allowed to travel to Expo – that it may be preferable to have the Bronzes in 2016, when “the party is over” and a way has to be found to make tourists return.
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