Hitch-hiking in Italy: advantages and disadvantages
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.
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 autostop’ signs 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.
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: