Program 335: Family Croatia; Bumpy Balkans; Exploring Northern Italy

Release Date: 08-17-2013

On Air Description

A trip to the Balkans can make you feel like you're stepping back in time. On the next Travel with Rick Steves, we hear how two travelers immersed themselves in Croatia and its neighbors, and what the region taught them. Plus, guides from Italy share the highlights of northern Italy, from Milan to Lake Como, and they recommend less-crowded small towns and lakes, where German and Swiss influences add a distinctive texture from the rest of Italy.

Explore the bumpy side of the Balkans, and the top of Italy, on this week's Travel with Rick Steves. 

Notes to Stations

The Program 335 Extra-1 (see Additional Info below) is not intended for broadcast in the U.S., since it mentions "pig shit, horse shit," and "cow shit."  But you may air extra 2 as you like.


  • Jennifer Wilson, author of "Running Away to Home" (St. Martin's Press)
  • Travel writer Francis Tapon, author of "The Hidden Europe:  What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us"  (Wander Learn Series) 
  • Ann Long and Riccardo Panareo, tour guides based in Italy

Related Links


  • "I have traveled a lot in that area and, like you, have had the experience of being warned about the dangers lurking in the next country.  Of course the danger never materializes, but it is sad that the people of the Balkans, bound by similar music, traditions, history, culture, food and often language, see their neighbors as 'others,' although I also believe that is slowly changing with the EU influence."   (e-mail from Matt in Kihei, Hawaii)
  • "During a trip last fall, a Croatian guide commented that Balkan countries had a long history of 'not playing well together in the sandbox' and this didn't bode well for joining the E.U."  Asks how they think Croatia and other Balkan countries will fare with E.U. membership.   (Gretchen in Minneapolis)
  • Requests home base and itinerary suggestions for a two to three day visit to the Lake region of Northern Italy.   (Fred in Linwood, New Jersey)
  • "As an opera fan, I would like to celebrate this year's Verdi bicentennial.  What events and sights would you recommend to see in Milan and surrounding Verdi country?"   (Robert in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania)
  • In Program Extra-2: "We will be traveling to Milan, the lakes and Cinque Terre. We heard about flooding damage in Cinque Terre. What updated information about that area so you have?   (Karen in Macomb, Illinois)

Incidental Music

  • Grup Balkan Ekspres, "Roman Oyun Havasi," Balkan Messengers / Kalan Ses (Turkey)
  • Orkestar RTW, "Eleno mome," The Radost Folk Ensemble: Heirloom / (self-released)
  • Balkan Beat Box, "Sunday Arak," Gypsy Groove (collection) / Putumayo
  • * Sanja Ilic and Balkanika, "Balkan Vocals," Buddha-Bar VIII (collection) / George V Records
  • Kocani Orkestar, with Gaetano Fabri, "Siki Siki Baba," Electric Gypsyland (collection) / Six Degrees
  • Berkovitza Folk Brass Orchestra, "On the Jivovica's Rope Bridge," Selected Humans / (self-released, from Berkovista, Bulgaria)
  • Fanfara Tirana, "Merre lehte (Take it Easy):  Neighbors' Music is Cool, Part 1,"  Brass Noir:  On the Trans-Balkan Highway (collection) / Piranha
  • Symfunny Orchestra, "Summertime," Jazz Classiks on Toys / Atma
  • Merchants of Moonshine, "Texas Toast," More Than Whiskey / (self-released)
  • * Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Erich Kunzel, cond., feat. Paul Patterson, mandolin, "'Allegro' from 'Mandolin Concerto' (Vivaldi)," Bella Tuscany  (collection) / Telarc
  • Aria, "Un Bel Di," Aria, vol. 1 / Cafe del Mar Music
  • The Orchestra of Flanders, Rudolph Werthen, cond., "'Allegro non molto' from 'The Four Seasons:  Summer' (Vivaldi)," Bella Tuscany (collection) / Telarc
  • Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Lorin Maazel, cond.),  "Act 3-Prelude, 'Io de sospire,'" Puccini:  Tosca  / Decca  (1999)
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, "'Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves' (from the opera 'Nabucco' by Verdi)," The #1 Opera Album, disc 1 (collection) / Decca

Dated References

  • In the open to segment B at 20:00, Rick notes that Croatia was "just added to the European Union."  (Croatia was admitted to the E.U. on July 1, 2013.  Apart from an earlier admission for Slovenia, none of the other former Yugoslav nations are yet members of the E.U., while neighboring Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece already are.)
  • At 23:20, Francis Tapon says Bulgarians get nearly two months of annual vacation time and sick leave, more than members of other European nations.
  • Rick notes at 25:50 that car rental rules in Italy prohibit driving into Albania, due to the risk of car theft.  Francis adds that a recent increase in auto traffic in Albania's cities is contributing to pollution problems. 
  • At 30:40, Francis says he is hopeful that the younger generation in the Balkans, born around 20 years ago, will discard the suspicions of their parents toward their neighboring countries.  He notes at 31:47 that "it's super safe" in each of the former-Yugoslav countries. 
  • At 33:56, Francis says the EU is not interested in further expansion, because of its members' "recent financial problems."
  • The theme of the haiku readings that start at 36:46 is preparing for summer road trips.
  • Caller Robert raises the topic of the 2013 bicentennial of Giuseppe Verdi in Italy, starting at 51:32. 

Haiku Awards

Summertime roadtrip.

Load up the car with children.

Fill tank, keep driving.

— Starla Little, Beaufort, South Carolina.


Niagara Falls

Antsy three year old daughter

Honeymoon on hold.

 — Priscilla Morin, San Diego, California   


Three syllables from

Just four letters, it's more than

You think, Ohio.

 — Rick Hyde, Hiram, Ohio  


Best people watching  

in Austin: Broken Spoke on  

a Saturday night


Singing Cream at free 

High Ball karaoke, sounds  

like tired starlings


Austin never met  

geezer singers, tattoos or 

dogs it didn't like."   

— Neil Ruddy, Carlisle, Iowa  

Program Extras

Program 335 Extra 1 - Jennifer Wilson shares the folk wisdom she learned from a Croatian neighbor about what really matters in life. (runs 1:08)

Program 335 Extra 2 - Rick, and tour guides Riccardo Panareo and Ann Long from Italy, talk to caller Karen from Macomb, Illinois about the recovery of the Cinque Terre towns that were devastated by flash floods in the fall of 2011, but are welcoming visitors again this year. (runs 4:17)