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High Prices in Italy

May 31, 1987

As an Italian temporarily in the U.S.A. I write in response to reader Glenn Corner (Letters, May 10) who was surprised by the "outlandishly high prices" he found in Italy compared to a visit in 1985, and was disappointed at not finding the bargains he expected, given the "lack of value" of the Italian lira.

The U.S. dollar is no longer wildly overpriced, as it was in 1985. At that time $1 U.S. was valued at about 2,000 lire; now it is 1,280 lire, a 35% decrease. Visits I made in the U.S.A. in 1983 and 1985 turned out to be outrageously expensive because of the exchange rate. What that reader has paid for a double room with breakfast in Venice ($65) is very reasonable compared with the cost of a hotel room in any American city, even in those not usually considered tourist attractions. Most important, he has to accept that traveling abroad has its price, not necessarily lower than traveling in the U.S.A. I may be wrong, but my impression is that some Americans think that Italy is some sort of underdeveloped country whose economy is in constant trouble, whose currency "lacks value" and where they expect "south of the border" prices. I am afraid they are going to be disappointed, because all these assumptions are wrong. Italy has no more economic troubles than any other Western country. It is, indeed, doing better than many, and its currency is as good as any other in the developed world.

You will be warmly welcomed, and the natural and artistic beauty of the country will make your visit a memorable one.

In the same May 10 issue the article "Footloose in Florence" by Beverly Beyer and Ed Rabey placed the start of the Renaissance in the 13th Century. Don't you think that is a little (say 200 years) too early?

MASSIMO PANDOLFO

Balboa Island

The Columbia Encyclopedia gives the start date as the 14th Century, but other sources point out stirrings much earlier.

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