Hitch-hiking in Italy: advantages and disadvantages

Trevi Fountain - Fontana di Trevi, Rome, Italy


There are numerous reasons in favour of visiting Italy using your thumb. First of all, hitch-hiking is possible and easy. Many people had warned us against it reasoning that it’s not in Italian people’s mentality to pick up hitch-hikers, but we had no problems at all. We always managed to get wherever we wanted and didn’t have to wait a long time for a lift. What’s more, many times Italian tourists saved us while travelling abroad when nobody else stopped!

Secondly, Italy is truly beautiful! It’s the country with the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world! Besides, its nature is stunning and varied; you can find everything you want in Italy: from high mountains where you can hike, climb, ski and paraglide to warm beaches and thick forests. Hitch-hiking is perfect to get to all these remote areas of the country.

Thirdly, you can almost always count on good weather. In fact, Italian climate is perfect: not too hot, not too cold – ideal for a day on the road.

Another plus is that although Italy is quite expensive, CouchSurfing is very popular and you will have no problems finding a host outside the most touristy cities. If that fails you, there is also a fair amount of campsites all around the place.

And finally, don’t listen to what other people say, Italians are a lovely bunch! They are friendly, smiley and curious, even if a bit shouty at times.

Canals in Venice, Italy


The biggest disadvantage of hitch-hiking in Italy is that Italians rarely speak other foreign languages, so if you haven’t mastered Italian or another Romance language, you might find it difficult to communicate with the drivers.

Another disadvantage is the fact that there are far too many motorways in Italy, from a hitch-hiker’s point of view. You will certainly travel fast on them, but it might be difficult to find the right entry spot. Besides, on toll roads (pedaggio) and in the close proximity of motorways you will often see no autostopsigns and if you decide to ignore them and thumb anyway, you are most likely to have a talk with the local police (and sometimes even a fine).

Italy is also quite expensive, so be prepared to spend much more that you have initially thought.

And the biggest disappointment of all is the overrated Italian food. When it comes to buying cheap snacks it’s hard to find anything that is not bread or pasta based. Supermarkets have a very limited choice apart from tomato sauce, which you can find everywhere and in at least 50 different varieties. Compared with Spain where we live, we also found the fruit and vegetables very expensive which is surprising given the fact that they grow so many things.

Hitch-hiking in Italy

written by: Ania


Our Experience

Before our Balkan Peninsula by Thumb 2013 trip, we had visited Italy several times but during the last trip we did it most thoroughly, covering 720 km and spending two seeks in the country.

This was our route:

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  • Anything involving Italians and driving will always be a bit of an adventure (and that’s coming from someone whose family is Italian)! Grocery stores and supermarkets are incredibly expensive and often difficult to find – most Italians tend to shop in the daily markets which are so much cheaper and of higher quality. Prices tend to become cheaper as you make your way further and further into the markets.

    I guess the nice thing about hitchhiking in Italy (something I have only done a couple times) is the fact that there are so many amazing cities to explore – so if you are flexible with your itinerary you can have an amazing time by just going where the next stranger is heading.

    Great (and very useful) post as always!

  • Nice post on a fabulous place :)

  • Great post! You are completely right! I grew up in Italy so I have learned to just enjoy the chaos and craziness of it all. After 4 years in Rome, my parents were one of those typical Roman maniac drivers and every time we got in the car it was a new adventure!

    Thanks again for a fantastic post!

  • Katherine & Joseph

    Hello! Great article and beautiful pictures. We are going to be hitch-hiking through Italy starting next week, so this definitely helped us get a better idea on what it’s like!

    We also really like your map under the “Currently In…” section. If you don’t mind answering, what mapping system do you use for it? We would love to be able to add something like that to our blog for our family and friends to keep track of us with.

    Thanks again. :)

    • Thanks guys! Glad you liked the article and we are sure you will love hitchhikig in Italy. As for the widget, we are using Nomad Map to create the map and Visual Editor to show the flags. There was no plugin that shows both things so we combined two plugins.

  • Cool article and very helpful :) i know it’s nearly impossible to say how long a trip would be, but i want to ask your opinion. My trip would be in this summer and my plan is Budapest starting, go down to Napoli, then to Genova, Marseille and back to Budapest. There are 6 cities where i want to sleep and always just one night. (according to the most optimistic plan, but i know that in real it’s a more difficult and probably longer trip) so my questions are: do you think 2 weeks enough for this trip? And is it worth it? Or is it soo fast that i couldn’t enjoy it? Thank you for your answer and also for the article. It gave me a little hope that it’s not that crazy idea.

    • Hello Bernat! Glad you liked the article :) To be honest, I think that over 4000 km which you are planning to cross is a bit too much for two weeks. After a full day of hitchhiking there is nothing better than relaxing in your destination, so we rarely hitchhike two days in a row (unless we are in a very big hurry). So 2 days in one place should be minimum and preferably even 3 or 4 if you are planning to do any sightseeing and get to know the place better. If you only have two weeks for the trip, I would personally chose a shorter route (e.g. Budapest – Naples – Budapest) or if you have your heart set on this route, you should consider more time for it. I’d say with our pace it would take minimum of 4-5 weeks.