I agree with you, I really dislike Italian croissants. I rarely have croissants when I’m in Italy because they remind me of cardboard. They’re usually dry, so tough that they seem stale even when they’re fresh.
I think in general Italian bakers are not masters of puff pastry and local croissants show this lack of skills. However, most croissants you will find in Italian cafés are industrial anyway.
I also believe that, as a quick breakfast item, they are not considered dignified enough to deserve being made with quality ingredients – I’ve never had a croissant in Italy which tastes like butter… I’d rather not know what kind of fat they use to prepare them. It’s probably the worst saturated fat they can find on the market – have you noticed the fat film they leave on your palate afterwards? Yuck!
Let’s admit it though – Italian croissants are very creative. They come with so many different fillings. Why? Because they’re so bad that no one would ever consider having a plain croissant! So the reason why they seem too sweet to you is probably because of the filling (and the amount of it). Lots of custard, chocolate spread or jam (only the cheapest ones, of course!) will help make those abominations more edible. Next time try to eat just the pastry without the filling and you’ll see that it’s actually not that sweet. It’s totally tasteless, just as good, old cardboard should be!
To me, a buttery, flaky plain French croissant is simply delightful in its simplicity and it intertwines wonderfully with the flavor and aroma of coffee.