Ten things I noticed about Italy

  1. You can enjoy consistently excellent coffee wherever you go.
  2. Pretty much all businesses shut down from lunchtime until often three in the afternoon. This includes petrol stations. It is possible to still buy petrol via machines during this time. All businesses shut on Sundays also.
  3. Petrol is the most expensive we found anywhere in Europe.
  4. It is not uncommon to see garbage piled up on the side of the road where roadside bins have obviously not been cleared for a long time. In general there is a lot of rubbish left on the streets.
  5. Italy is the most graffitied country I have ever been in. For example, in Rome, it was common to see the entire exterior of trains covered from top to bottom in graffitied.6 There was little or no landscaping or parks. Buildings often looked poorly maintained.
  6. However, where we travelled in the north in Liguria was a notable exception to this general observation and of those mentioned in 4 and 5.
  7. There were substantially larger numbers of scooter and motorbike riders in Italy than any other European country we have travelled in this trip.
  8. The signs on the road indicating the distance to other towns changed randomly from one sign to the next. The most hilarious and frankly perplexing example was when we saw two signs in the space of about 500 m where one indicated our destination was now roughly 100 km less than the sign 500 m up the road. These contradicting road distances happened enough times for us to start joking about it to each other when another example was identified.
  9. Driving on Italian roads is downright scary a lot of the time. It is a regular occurrence to have an oncoming vehicle overtake a line of cars in front of them and to not allow for the fact that you are travelling in the opposite direction. The only way of avoiding an accident is to heavily apply the brakes or drive as best as possible on the shoulder of the road so that they may pass, at speed, between you and the other oncoming vehicles. Another variation on this theme is of course the people behind you overtaking in the same manner and you having to see them in your rear vision mirror in sufficient time as to brake and allow them past you before they collide with the oncoming traffic. Motorists driving at excessive speed, overtaking on blind corners, reversing down a main road towards your oncoming vehicle are all things we experienced.
  10. Given point 9 it near beggars belief that we only saw one accident the whole time we were in Italy. Though I will say that the sounds of sirens was a daily event and usually several times a day. So somewhere nearby each day something untoward happened.

In summary, at least Italy has awesome coffee.

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