but how come Italy ........ what could have possibly gone wrong to make you incompatible).
As Els had "highlighted" my low count of Italian WHS I felt that some "explanation" was required and it is a fact that, across many years, since my last significant visit in 1992 (which followed others since 1964) Italy has never "attracted" when I have perused the map of the world for that "next" destination.
A major part of the attraction of travel of course is experiencing and trying to appreciate different cultures and environments. All countries have their pluses and minuses including (especially??) UK - which you have just "undergone"! But, once one has experienced those of a particular country (and several times), it becomes an issue of whether one wants/needs "more of the same" or whether there are new un-visited places or more "compatible" places for a re-visit. But, since 1992 I certainly (unfortunately!) have "changed" and maybe Italy will have also - we will see this September whether these result in a different conclusion!
As for "incompatibility" - I am reluctant to indulge in national cultural stereotyping but there are "truths" inside them - if you listed the things which you find attractive about Italian culture I would probably go for the opposite in every case - Northern European v Southern European! "E Cosi" is not my ideal environment.
And what of the "sights" themselves. Leaving aside the World class ones, there are rather a lot of religious buildings and paintings etc etc. I was quite interested to read your review of Durham Cathedral ("If truth be told, there's nothing that special inside apart from the Norman elements of the cathedral."
) - those stark minimally decorated and powerful architectural elements are what it is all about! You expect "more" inside a religious building? Conversely - coming from a non Catholic background I find it very difficult to enthuse about what seems to me to be excessive ornamentation. I also don't relate positively to Catholic works of art which, to my taste, tend to the mawkish. I go into the Uffizi and there is yet another room full of chubby cherubs! No thanks - give me a room of Dutch masters any day! And all those paintings/statues of Christ "do" as little for me as a cave full of Buddha statues in China - they are worth seeing a few times but then begin to merge into "sameness" without the religious impetus to help appreciate the message which led to their creation. I am not wanting to offend, but it is worth pointing out how different viewpoints can impact "appreciation" of religious art once one has accepted/understood the skill involved and the historical context in which they were created.
As for "what could possibly have gone wrong?". Well these examples might amuse and are in no way a "reason" for avoiding Italy - indeed they had their "interest" as experiences at the time - but you did ask!
a. Milan is the ONLY city in the world where we had our rental car towed away - totally incomprehensible parking regulations which seemed to be randomly imposed! Yet we experienced tremendous help from an Italian stranger who shepherded us through the bureaucracy to pay the fine and recover the car and even drove us out to the pound on the outskirts of the city!
b. I remember being awoken at 2 am one night by Carabinieri poking their guns through the flap of our tent just to find out who was in there!
c. Try arguing with an incorrect bill in a restaurant and you will get nowhere but leave some of the food and the chef will be mortified and will move heaven and earth to satisfy you!