Discussing Heritage Tourism in Italy with Rick Zullo
Recently I had the chance to talk about heritage tourism in Italy with Rick Zullo. He is a fellow Italian American and an American blogger in Rome. He also has a podcast called, “The Fatal Charm of Italy,” and that’s where our conversation took place.
I’ve been following Rick’s blog for a while. He has a fun approach and a refreshing point of view on Italy and what it means to be an expat. The community of expat bloggers in Italy is relatively small, and he is highly regarded amongst them. This group shares a common bond, and we all connect sooner or later, either in real life or online.
Rick’s story is similar to mine, and probably not that different from many expats in Italy. It is a combination of a couple of different things that attracted us to Italy. Being fed up with the “rat race” in America, and having the desire to dig a little deeper into our Italian heritage is what led us down this path. We left America behind for Italy in search of a simpler life, a more relaxed pace and the hopes of connecting with our Italian roots.
Fortunately for us, we found all of those things. However, just like living anywhere else, Italy does have some drawbacks. It didn’t take very long until we began to butt heads with the Italian bureaucracy. Then we had to adjust to the “pausa”, where everything stops mid-day for 3 or 4 hours. On top of that, there are the ever so frustrating sciopero that ensures you will never get where you are going on time by public transport. These are a few of the things about the Motherland that our grandparents never told us.
Clearly, Rick and I both quickly agreed that the trade-offs are worth it. On most days the advantages of living in Italy outweigh the pitfalls. Although, sometimes it can be frustrating. During our conversation, Rick mentioned his first encounter with the Italian way of doing things. It happened before he even arrived in Italy. He was trying to accomplish some family research in anticipation of his upcoming trip.
Rick’s Experience with Heritage Tourism in Italy
Rick’s journey began in 2010. He attempted to plan and organize his Italian heritage tour by doing what we all do reflexively. He Googled it of course. The research gave him just enough information to send him on a wild Internet goose chase. He was left disappointed with both inaccurate and incomplete leads.
His experience is quite common, and it is the reason why people wanting to get the most out of a homecoming experience in Italy should leave the heavy lifting to the professionals. At the time, Rick thought that it was fun poking around and gathering information from the various heritage websites. However, he quickly realized that it may not have been the best idea. Rick had a deadline to meet and was serious about finding complete and accurate information. Unfortunately, the frustrations he encountered along the way put a big damper on his initial enthusiasm.
For example, during our chat he mentioned spending weeks trying to track down a single birth certificate. He eventually discovered that it had been incorrectly filed due to a misspelling of his great-grandfather’s name. This kind of thing frequently happens, and in Rick’s case, it took all the fun out his research project.
Circumstances could have been much worse for Rick. There are cases where documents have truly disappeared. Records have gone missing due to natural disasters such as earthquakes and fires. Some registers were destroyed during the two World Wars. Let’s not forget that improper storage and simple human error also account for many lost documents. In the end, Rick finally ended up Digging up some Roots in the Boot, although his path to heritage tourism in Italy was not nearly as fulfilling as it could have been.
Getting Know Italy with Rick Zullo
Whatever it is that you love most about Italy, Rick writes about it. His blog is as interesting and diverse as the Italian culture itself. He speaks about everything from food traditions to heritage tourism in Italy. He gives insights into Italian fashion and the Italian language. Rick truly makes an effort to go beyond all the clichés and stereotypes. He digs much deeper into the Italian culture and its society. His approach is often somewhat critical and a bit sarcastic, but it is always entertaining and with an underlying affection for his second home.
Here are some of his most sought-after blog posts. Don’t be shy. Click on the links and explore Italy through Rick’s eyes. If you like what you read, you can leave him a comment and let him know.
You might also discover something new about Italy and the Italian culture by listening to Rick’s podcast “The Fatal Charm of Italy.” In fact, if you would like to hear our conversation about heritage tourism in Italy, you can listen to the podcast episode below.