Ok, there's a lot to unpack here, so I'll try to get to each thing in turn. 1) To reiterate: I am merely talking about my personal preferences. Nothing I'm saying is intended to be normative. This line of discussion originated in yung.carl.jung mentioning that he likes cities with grit, and my echoing of that preference - that I personally prefer cities that feel lived-in. I am not saying, nor have I ever said, that nobody should be allowed to take joy or personal enrichment from visiting a city like Florence. In fact I made this point quite evident in my first response to MechSalvation, as I told him that, even though I didn't care for Florence, that was due to my personal taste in visiting cities, and it was quite likely that he would feel differently, just as my girlfriend at the time did. At no point did I say that anybody was wrong for liking Florence. 2) I don't think there's anything wrong going to a place with a lot of history and imagining what things must have been like in some past time. The point I've been making has nothing to do with history per se. Florence, Rome, Paris, London, and Venice all have tons of history, and I don't have any problem with seeking that history out and experiencing it. I will say, though, that I take issue with the implication here that old buildings or artifacts are a precondition to do so. It creates an implicit binary that says, for instance, that one can't "Imagine what it was like" if the buildings aren't sufficiently old, or that "Imagining what it was like" is only possible in urban areas. 3) With that out of the way, let's get down to the meat of the issue. My point isn't that history is bad, or that cities with history are bad. I'm a historian: I love history. I see a city's history as an expression of its culture, and seeing how a city grows and changes, decays and ascends, and morphs and transforms is one of the most thrilling and intriguing aspects of experiencing a new place. The distinction I'm drawing here is one of audience and intention. I like to visit cities where that history is an essentially organic expression of the city itself. The history reflects the time the city has been in existence and the lives its citizens have led. The most important aspect to me is one of verisimilitude: a sense that the city represents a historical continuity. For me, this is where, I think, cities like Florence and Venice lose the plot. In these cities, at least in their historical centers, I get a sense, not of historical continuity, but of historical disjunction. The cities in these cases seem have latched onto an imagined past and are specifically directing their urban landscape to encapsulate that imagined past. Thus you the visitor don't get a sense of the city's history as a continuity to the present day, but of the city as an urban space "out of time." For me this aspect is more problematic, again, upon the realization that this encapsulation isn't a reflection of the city's populace, but rather, a reflection of an imagined past which visitors to the city expect to see. Thus the cityscape results, not as an expression of that city's history but as a reflection of an imagined tourist's expectations. This is what I mean by verisimilitude, and why I have made repeated references to theme parks. The sense I get as a visitor is one that is extremely artificial: these buildings don't exist for the people residing within the city, but instead for me the tourist who expects to see Renaissance-looking buildings. So at the end of the day what I'm experiencing isn't Florence the real city in which real people live and work and love and die, but rather "Florence" the cultural idea that reflects the inherited Western (Whiggish) historical narrative. Again, here, I think the Disneyland analogy is extremely apropos, if a bit hyperbolic: "Florence" is a reflection of Western cultural narratives about the Renaissance in the same way that Disneyland's "Main Street, USA" is a reflection of a American cultural narratives about itself and its imagined "Good Old Days." In both cases, the portrayal rings hollow: both in the sense that it is an unrealistic and necessarily whitewashed portrayal of an imagined historical past, but also in neither case is it an expression of the location in the historical present, but at least in Disneyland this is an understood and internalized fact: Disneyland is kitsch and "Main Street USA" is a kitschy representation of Americana. This understanding is not internalized in the case of cities like Florence or Venice, and it saddens me that a tourist might come away from their visit thinking that they experienced Florence or Venice, whether past or present, they're been lied to in both cases. I have two points to your response to "culturally refined" a) My point was a comment on the way "culture" is experienced and consumed by tourists. Whether or not a Thing you see in a museum or a building you visit represents "cultural refinement" or might constitute an "enriching experience" is, generally speaking, irrelevant, because the experience of the object is, generally speaking, not about the object, nor the experience, but the ability to document that experience and use that documentation to convey a culturally-desired aspect of the self to an audience. That is to say: it's not about what you learn or experience, it's about being able to take a picture of yourself in front of the object, and to use that object as a cudgel on social media to uplift yourself at the expense of others. b) Your point about cultural refinement furthers my own? Like these buildings aren't, in of themselves, valuable, they are only valuable inasmuch as they represent something that seems old. It's not even the age of the buildings that are fetishized, but rather, the perceived age. This looks 500 years old (even though it's actually 60), therefore it is culturally significant and worth "experiencing." But then, these buildings you write off as ugly and modern will, themselves be refined and worthy of experiencing sometime down the line, assuming they survive that long. At the end of the day: do you, and like what you do, but I didn't particularly enjoy my time in Florence, and the above more or less summarizes why.