To me, I think if you are passionate about bikes, you really need to go for SRAM or Campy. I like these two brands because they offer great performance to price ratios, and above all I believe they offer a better feel than the slightly soulless Shimano products.
It sure has more history than SRAM. SRAM has loud graphics, perhaps that's "soul"?
Something to consider:
Shimano works very well and it's widely available, LBS with parts and experience are found everywhere, and good service. Also, the distributeurs usually can deliver parts fast.
Campa works just as good, but the availabilty at local shops is a BIG issue. You are usually out of luck if you break something on vacation
SRAM also works fine and is more available then Campa, but (at least in Europe) a lot worse than Shimano in coverage by local shops.
Now I personally tend to rent bikes on vacation (a mountainbike is very versatile and fun!). Also, I live in the capital and have an LBS who is a Campa specialist (and two other shops who carry the brand on the other side of town if ), so I'm a happy Campy owner. But if there weren't shops near that could service it I wouldn't have gone for Campy.