The first month in a van aka how was Italy?
How to say this? For us, Italy feels like a romantic railway station from the ’90s. The part you see as a tourist who flies in is EXTREMELY beautiful, clean and the atmosphere is unmatched. Every vineyard and cafe is cuter and more romantic than the last one. But if you decide to drive from one village to another, then you discover sh*tty roads, a LOT of trash beside the roads and the overall unorganized feeling is just something else. The northern part of Italy is cleaner and more in order the more south you go, the more authentic the country becomes.
And now it feels like we did not like Italy at all. ON THE CONTRARY! Italy was amazing!! The people are nice and friendly, if they understand you, everybody has time and the overall flow is calm.
We spent a lot of time outside of the big cities because van life is not Metropol friendly. The constant fear of leaving the car alone, narrow streets, and weird traffic is rushed and kind of unlogical.
The first tip we could give you is about the traffic. It is easier to transition into the Italian way of driving when you travel through different countries and it slowly progresses to this organized chaos. The traffic there is really flowy and will scare you away at first, but if you get the hang of it, it is quite easy and enjoyable.
We slept in so many different places – on top of a mountain, next to the sea, next to a lake, we did not in fact sleep next to a river tho, so something to look forward to. Then there were paid parking lots near the cities. We were neighbors with French, Italians, Germans, and wild boars. We spent in total 3 weeks and 3 days in Italy.
So what do we recommend?
If you are traveling in a car, the best recommendation is – AVOID HIGHWAYS!! Highways rob you of so much, the smaller less traveled roads go through so many cool villages and beautiful places that you can’t even think of if you are looking at a map. The vibe in smaller cafes and markets is soo different than the rushed feel of highway gas stations full of trucks. And, the smaller villages are cheaper – gas, food, you name it.
But here is a but – as we mentioned before, the roads are in baaad condition. All the non-toll roads are full of potholes or are just in a condition that you really can’t explain. But the roads are still worth the ride.
We feel like it is easier to find really exceptional pasta in Italy rather than a pizza. You go there thinking, “I’m in Italy, every restaurant must be better than in Estonia.” Um, no? Italians like really simple, plain tastes – good bread, tomato sauce or bread, a vegetable and tomato sauce and then they call it the best pizza you will ever have. We did not enjoy these recommendations.
We did try to find a good place to eat, finding a good pizza on recommendations only was impossible, but if we decided to hunt for an exceptional pasta, we did get it..and from every restaurant, we visited. Oh, and the forementioned hunt was not in a big touristy city but rather in smaller towns.
But how to find something good to eat? Eat with your eyes and do not ask for recommendations! When we decided to not rely on recommendations and started to look at the plates that people had in front of them we found so many great places.
Uju nii palju kui võimalik. Eestis ei ole sellist marusoolast sinist vett, mis sind nagu kätel kannaks. Kasuta seda enda huvides ära nii palju kui süda lustib. Samuti naudi mägedes kulgemist ja seda veidrat rahu mis seal tekib. Taaskord selline eksootika, mida Eestis ei saa.
- Swim as much as you can. You can’t find such blue water in Estonia which will carry you in it’s arms. Abuse the use of the sea as much as possible.
- Go to the mountains and feel the vibe there and the hard to explain calmness that overflows you. You can’t experience that in Estonia.