Embarrassing Mistakes Tourists Make In Italy's Most Photogenic Hotspot

557,604 Instagram posts later... have we learned anything?

What would you do for travel? Clean grease traps? Flaunt your curves on a sugar daddy website? Sell your house? Live stream your wedding?

Everyone has a price.

Anyhow, once you’re on the gravy train, whether it’s a week in Polignano a Mare or a year bouncing around Europe, you’re going to want to juice it pulp and all.

That involves mentally flatlining, physically relaxing and making your friends as jealous as possible. What it doesn’t is staying in sub-standard accommodation and whinging.

Unfortunately, if Tripadvisor is anything to go by, that’s what a lot of tourists (both Australian and otherwise) end up doing.


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How did we realise this? Well, we were innocently strolling through reviews of Polignano a Mare properties, doing a little vicarious living, as one does at 5pm on a Tuesday afternoon, and what we found made our eyes roll.

Tourists complaining in paradise.

While Lord Of The Flies proves idyllic surrounds don’t guarantee a happy community, we thought given its amenities, culture and relatively uncorrupt legal structure, Polignano was a safe bet to visit.

Alas, we found the sort of scathing reviews we thought were reserved for New York’s seedy underbelly, Paris’ outdoor dunny hotels and London’s most stone-faced staff.

While those big cities have more negative (and outlandish) reviews, and while most travellers admittedly sing about their Polignano sojourn, the fact that quite a few have mismatched expectations with what they get and what they (thought they) are paying for surprised us.


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But first: context. What the hell is Polignano? Polignano a Mare is a town on Italy’s southern Adriatic coast, which the 557,604 Instagram posts with the hashtag #polignanoamare attest, is one of the most photogenic places in Italy.

Known for beaches like the white-pebble Lama Monachile, which is bordered by a Roman bridge, Polignano’s most famous feature is a cove nestled at the bottom of a cliff.

It also has a Museum of Contemporary Art, food to get IBS for, a Romanesque church, a 16th-century tower and a controversial city-wide cover charge (in peak season).


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Quite a #niceview from one of the terraces on our tower house in #polignanoamare

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Oh and it also, as we mentioned earlier, has a few disgruntled tourists, whose complaints we have curated below for your convenience.

Let’s begin with a peak season (June) dispute from 2018. A family who appear to be from Florida came for the holiday of their dreams – or so they thought. Unfortunately, though, whoever’s side in the argument you take, their stay was marred by a misunderstanding.

“We went with the family to this hotel and reserved two apartments,” the story, posted on Tripadvisor, begins. “They were located in the historical center and the car can not enter, so you and your family must drag the luggage several blocks. Then there is no parking lot . You should walk like half a mile from the historic center to the parking lot.”

So far so disgruntled.

But it gets worse: “The apartments are very small and with two levels with ladders so you should go downstairs each time you want to go to bathroom. One of the apartments is in front of the square where there are celebration until late so you can not rest or sleep until midnight and you don’t know which apartment you will be assigned.”

“The staff is very impolite.”

The apartment management’s response? “It’s true! Our apartments are settled in the historical centre, that obviously is a no parking area, anyway we have a parking lot 350 m far from the historical centre, so, just 6 minutes by walk.”


“You must drag your luggage for 50 m because you refused to be helped from the rickshaw service, and refused my help too, and I’m so sorry if you can’t walk even to go to toilet.”


“Most of our apartments are typical apulian houses, and you choose it, you can look photos for each one, so is not our fault if you didn’t likewhat you choosed,” the clapback continues.

“About celebrations, it was our sain patron celebration, tradtional celebration and a lot of tourists come in Polignano just to live it, it’s a shame you can’t respect it.”

“In the end, I’m so sorry to be impolite, but we were a little bit embarassed until your sister slammed the door into my face.”

This is far from the only absurd dispute, with the annals of Tripadvisor showcasing some complaints that are harder to wrap one’s head around than Sartre’s Nausea.

One of our favourites is entitled “bad timing” and comes from a Mr Ramsay from Frankfurt, who took to Tripadvisor to share what sounds like a bizarrely self-made problem: “Middle of the day, crowded, wrong light to take pictures, had an espresso at the wrong place. Found nothing memorable.”

Finally we have an even weirder review, in which the tourist claims to have been left hungry after a £1k bill at reataurant Contrada San Giovvani: “Terrible. Simply terrible. No other words.”

“Charged from r things we hadn’t even ordered. After £1k bill left hungry.”

Moral of the story? Maybe you don’t always get what you paid for. But if you do a little research before going somewhere (or chucking your credit card details at someone or something) you tend to get ripped off less.

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