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Rick Steves' 
Postcards from Europe

Rick Steves' Postcards from Europe

On the influence of travel writers:

"A moment, please," Vittorio says, and leaves us. The women are following my guidebook as if on a school assignment, trying to match words with buildings.As Vittorio reels them toward his restaurant, I realize that I've caught them first. The impact of my guidebook is making Vernazza touristy--filled with Americans looking for the "untouristy Riviera."

While sending travelers to a place because it's "undiscovered" is contradictory, it's the essence of my travel writing. I'm like the whaler who screams, "Quick, harpoon it before it's extinct!" But, sooner or later, the modern world--with or without tourism--will drown the charm of Vernazza. My mission is clear: to help my readers find and experience this slice of Italy. Maybe I'm their hired gun. But finishing the last cool crunch of gelato and cone, I see a world very happily mixing old and new, locals and tourists.

On Venice's small travel pleasures:

When I'm on tour, I walk my groups to Piazza San Marco approaching through tiny alleys. I pop the charms of the square on them like the sudden burst of a Champagne cork. The sight of their tired faces lighting up is my tip for a good day's work. I'll never forget one woman who broke into tears. Her husband had dreamed of seeing this with her but died a year too soon. Now, she said, she was here for both of them.

Today, I'm alone, kicking at pigeons like a carefree kid kicks October leaves. A 1,500-lire bag of seed must be the most entertaining dollar you can spend here. Surrounded by historic and cultural wonders scholars would kill to see, today's tourists seem to see only what the locals call "rats with wings."

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