Two weeks on a road trip in Italy (part 1)

Pozn.: Tento příspěvek je psaný v AJ, aby posloužil co nejširšímu publiku. Procvičujte 😉

I feel that I have an enormous task ahead of me – to write down everything significant that happened in our two weeks in Italy, to make it easy for a reader to find the most important recommendations and warnings, to pick only the best photos when almost every single one I took has a story or a thought behind it, and to not bore you? How am I ever going to accomplish this?

It seems that I could go at it from several different angles, write posts titled like „What (NOT) to do in Italy“,  „Where to go for the best pizza in the world“, „The ultimate Venice guide“, „The dark side of Naples“, „What to pack for a roadtrip to Italy“ or I could just make it a simple diary of our days, pointing out highlights and disasters as they came.

But I think I want to do a bit of both and mostly I want it to be helpful and reachable by anyone, which is also why I decided to write in English this time.

So let’s do it.

The idea to go for a roadtrip to Italy came to us literally few weeks ago. Well, we wanted to do it since some 6 years ago but it was a dream in the back of our minds, one we didn’t really think about up until now. For our vacation this year we originally planned to go for an all-inclusive holiday, you know, beach, pool, pina coladas… but our initial ideas of locations went down the drain when we were told we’d need to take vacation later in the year, and as I was researching where is it good idea to go in October, all offers suddenly seemed boring, like we needed more excitement to feel alive again. And as I told this to Mr. Mysteria, he agreed completely. Boy, did we get what we wanted!! 😀

The planning then was very superficial. We were so busy that we knew it would be impossible to research and plan everything – but we weren’t worried because that is part of the fun, and after all, we managed a holiday like that before, and if we could do it on Bali pretty much on day-to-day decisions basis, surely we can take on a rather more normal and safe country like Italy. Ok, ok, don’t tell me, I know now that SOME research would have been very helpful, mainly when it comes to Naples, but I’ll get to that 😀

Positano vibes.

And it’s not like we didn’t research at all. We got our car rented with Sixt rental company. It was a bit tricky as we do not own a credit card but Mr. Mysteria managed to deal with that for rather a decent price. We wrote down a general plan, shared ideas, saved a lot of locations to our maps, watched videos and we knew we’d decide details as we went, because you can’t really plan every hour of every day anyway, you just can’t know what will happen.

So after arriving to Venice airport, the first obstacle was to find where our Flixbus to Mestre leaves from. It was a nightmare already. No signs of Flixbus anywhere, noone has ever heard of it, some buses to our destination were leaving from a certain stop but they were not Flixbus and Flixbus actually had a stop marked on Google Maps somewhere quite different.

Later we many times cursed Google Maps as they simply didn’t show many roads or showed places where they were not…

So fast forward through our angry attempts to find that marked stop (it wasn’t there) and then get back to where we thought the bus might be actually leaving from in two minutes – judging by the schedule online – skip more anger as an attendee of the ATVO bus stop confused us, suddenly we were sitting in the bus (that wasn’t marked as Flixbus but the tickets worked) and going towards Mestre. We were angry for the confusion but happy to be where we are supposed to be. From Mestre we decided to walk as the public transport informations we received from our camping were not complete, we didn’t know how much it would cost, and hell, it was only supposed to be like 30 minutes walk.

In the end, it was actually over 40 but that was mostly because we were constantly looking at directions. We were also stressed because it seemed like everyone on the street (it was late night) was highly suspicious and like we had targets on our back due to clearly being tourists with suitcases and backpacks.

Luckily we arrived to our first station, Jolly Camping in Marghera, and the staff were lovely and our beds were simple but we slept like babies.

Piazza del San Marco in Venice.

In the morning we decided to have breakfast and then get a shuttle to Venice where we then spent the whole day. It was there, that I finally started to feel like on a vacation that I needed. I had some ideas about what Venice looks like but of course, they were highly idolised. But this is what I like about travelling. To get to the actual place and see for yourself how it looks, feel the atmosphere, talk to the people, eat the food. You might know the place exists, you remember some general info about it from school or you’ve seen some documentaries when you were a kid but the reality is usually entirely different matter, unless, well, you did a lot of your research, but why do that when you can just go there and explore for yourself?! Sure, you might get some cold slaps in your face but that goes with it and without it it wouldn’t be exploring. It wouldn’t be interesting 😛

After seeing Venice, we slept another night in the camp and then in the morning we headed back to the airport to pick up our rental car. After that, we were finally headed down the italian autostrada towards our second station in Alberoro.

But it wasn’t without some „fun“ at first! 😀

Ok, so we knew we had to pay money at the highways, we were ready for that with both cards and cash, we watched several youtubers do it and read some articles. But! Noone, and I mean NOONE ever mentions what a TELEPASS is, so when we drove onto our first part of a highway and the tolls came, we had no idea what was going on as we drove into a toll with a huge TELEPASS sign on it. There was no other way, there was no chance to back out, it was giving us a ticket and we took it and the gates opened and I immediately started googling what the fuck was TELEPASS!

Now, I was in panic, perhaps if I googled more, I’d find what I needed to find, but instead, I only found some horror stories of people using TELEPASS, calling it the „wrong lane“ to go to, saying „it’s not worth it, pay with cash instead“ etc.. Hell, there was no other line!, we kept saying to each other, while being mad at the whole world for not telling us, starting with the rental car company, ending maybe with our mums as they raised us (because, of course, this is clearly a vital life information to know). On the ticket, there was obviously no English, it looked like there were some fields to fill out, someone said you can’t even pay with it unless you have a card linked to italian bank account… just MAN! Panic.

I even sent an email to our rental company customer service asking for help and explanation, as one of the stories mentioned getting a fine from the rental company for using TELEPASS! They never replied (well, few days after we got back from Italy, thanks for nothing), and by the time we reached another toll, we just thought, screw this, we’ll deal with it later, no other option anyway. So here when we saw two different lanes, one with card/cash payment and one saying TELEPASS again, we kinda thought, well, we have TELEPASS so we should maybe pay with it, but we don’t want to! So my man drives into the card/cash lane and here it wants to see our ticket. Well, we only have the TELEPASS one, I think we are so screwed and there is no way to go back, but he tries to put it inside and the machine eats it, asks for money and lets us out! YAYYY!

So of course later I find some other informations, explaining that TELEPASS is a normal thing to use, apparently this is simply your „entrance“ ticket, so when you enter the autostrada (highway), you go to TELEPASS line, collect it, and then when you reach the next toll stop, you go through the „card/cash“ line, insert the damn ticket, pay and go, just like we did, but hell, would have been much lovelier if we knew what the heck was going on and wouldn’t be so stressed out about potential huge fines and messing up already ten minutes after we even got our car!

Ok, so first crisis dealt with, we then had several hours of a crash course on the italian highway. You see, italians are mad drivers! In the first hours, several of them apparently tried to murder us and I’m telling you, if there are paralel universes, in a few of them we had an accident on that very day because maybe my man didn’t react fast enough. Luckily for us in those moments, we stayed in our universe and avoided disasters. But we learned that 80% italians just don’t know what the blinkers are for or they use them completely wrong. There is no priority, who goes, goes, even if your autostrada joining line ends and you need to go left to join in, they will just not move, even if you are to end up in the fence. They completely ignore lines and it’s not unusual to see them driving just in the middle for quite a while, of course without giving any kind of signal as to where they will go from there and when. We quickly realized that we ARE in fact targets in this car jungle, as is probably anyone who is not driving as a complete psychopat. I was not the driver but my stomach cringed since the very beginning and never stopped until we returned our car (not the one we started with, though, funny story) as if I was.

And as we later arrived to our second station and had to wait for our host who then never arrived, instead sent his mother or whoever, who didn’t speak a word in English, we felt like we only tasted the first sip and we had so much more craziness coming our way. And were we right!

But that evening we also ticked off another thing from our „Trip of nostalgy“ list and visited the beautiful town of Cortona again after six/five years and that was so lovely! We started off with madness and incredible stress entwining closely with loveliness and bliss and somehow that stayed the theme for the rest of our italian roadtrip.

Cortona is still our favourite, as is all Tuscany.

Were we scared and lost and on the verge of crying (or releasing other body fluids than tears) at some points? Yes. But did we feel alive? Absolutely.