Italy is a lovely country - I've travelled quite a lot of it - Rome, Venice, Naples, Florence and Piza to name a few places, and did all of the "must sees".
I drove across the border between Switzerland and Italy on a small back road late in the evening - the Swiss border village was clean and tidy, all the grass was cut, and all the buildings were freshly whitewashed, but there was not a soul to be seen. The Swiss border guard was immaculately turned out, and took some time to examine my passport.
Then I drove onto across no-mans land to the Italian border guard, he was unshaven, with a loose tie, and a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth, I slowed down to show my passport, but he just waved me through.
The Italian border village (which was less than 5km from the Swiss one) could not have been more different, the houses were the same, but a little more shabby, the grass hadn't been cut - but everyone was out in the village centre, Grandma was looking after the kids (playing football) and mum and dad were eating pizza!
Two totally different cultures - living next door to each other, and I know which side of the border I wanted to be!