***

I have always liked the Michelin green guides. One thing I like is they are not afraid to give an opinion. All sights are given 0, 1, 2 or 3 stars. Three stars is worth a journey to see and two stars is worth a side-trip to see. At least that is what it used to be, I just checked mine and now *** is highly recommended, ** in recommended, and * is interesting. They mention some sites with no stars at all but do not give an interpretation of that. I used to joke that it meant that if you were driving by, and your head was already turned in that direction, then you should look at it.

The * system is quirky It is common to have a * church with a ** alter, sometimes even a *** window although a two-star spread in a site in uncommon, except in whole cities. Rome, of course, is *** and so, of course, St.Peters, and so, of course, is Michelangelo’s Pieta inside it, but St. Peters also contains ** statues and * angels and the porch and facade have no stars. In an interesting turn, the dome is ***, but the summit of the dome has no stars but it does have a *** view.

I was touring France some years ago with my family and the two boys quickly learned the Michelin star system. We would stop at a church and if it was only one * then they would stay in the car and my wife and I would tour the church. They would get out to see a ** church.

I don’t like the Michelin guide as much as I used to though since my values have changed. I am not so interested in seeing particular things as just seeing what is there at a place. I sometimes say I haven’t seem everything but I have seen one of each type of thing. This is, of course, not literally true but it is close enough to being true that it is a good working guide.

Michelin only likes specific attractions, buildings, paintings, statues, views, etc. But if you go into a little housewares shop and get a souvenir vegetable peeler that you will use almost every day and you have a pleasant interaction with the shopkeeper and you try to explain what you want in Italian and she corrects you in a good-natured way, Michelin does not give that any stars but it is a *** experience for me.

Hotels, as we mentioned before, have one to five stars. It seems more common to have a five-level rating scale than the Michelin 3 (and a half maybe) level scale. As you know, especially if you saw Ratatouille, Michelin also rates restaurants with one, two or three stars.

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