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             Small Group Tours: Travel for Women

Italy or France?



I have always thought that when it comes to France and Italy, passions are really divided. There seems to be people who love Italy and all things Italian, on the other hand there are Francophiles who dream of going nowhere else but France and love everything French.


I am lucky enough to visit both countries every year, on more than one occasion, so don’t have to make that choice and I love both countries with a passion.


However, when I read Susan Van Allan’s book ‘100 Places In Italy Every Women Should Go’ this quote from Erica Jong resonated with me, she says...

‘Whenever I go anywhere but Italy for a vacation, I always feel as if I have made a mistake’.

It made me realised that throughout my life, if I am even anywhere remotely near Italy, even if I am heading in a different direction I will always pop in.

Says it all really!


However, regardless of your preference, one has to admit that they are both extraordinary countries filled with so much culture, history, art, great food, wine, scenery and much more..


Just next door, so close and yet so far, and so very different.  In fact Nice on the French Riviera was in Italy until 1860, when Napoleon III (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte) and Victor-Emmanuel II, King of Sardinia, agreed that Nice would be handed over to France.

It’s amazing how they have forgotten how to cook Italian food in that time!


I read this the other day that points out some of the differences in the culture.

Generalisations I agree, but these observations of the people are reflected in almost every aspect of life in both countries and, makes them both so diverse and remarkable.


‘I drove to Tuscany from our home in Provence and as soon as we crossed the border I could sense the change. The Italians drive faster for a start and they are less inclined to follow the rules of the autoroute. I thought the French pretty wild when they get behind the wheel, but the Italians – they own the autostrada.

We were caught in a massive blocko or traffic jam just near Portofino. It was a monumental mess – we are talking three and a half hours of almost stationary crawl – going nowhere at snail’s pace.


The Italians took it all in their stride; they left their cars, chatted with each other, shared their lunch and generally made the most of a frustrating situation. The police were directing the traffic with wide smiles and buongiornos all round and at the same time they happily indulged in harmless flirtations with the female drivers. I have been caught in plenty of bouchons in France and we most definitely stayed put in the car.’


‘I know that the French have a reputation for arrogance – I don’t believe that; I believe that they are a reserved race, shy even and that they are not people to outwardly express their emotions. The Italians are more transparent whereas the French are formal and take time to relax and drop their guards. The Italians seem to live from one day to the next in what appears to the outsider as a kind of chaos; the French are ordered and disciplined where procedure and traditional practice are the guidelines for living.’


 I think I will take a bit of each as often as I can!