Over three weeks into our two month road-trip from England to Sicily and back, here are some thoughts on what we’ve learnt so far:
- We’ve limited the driving each day to no more than three hours
- We haven’t planned our tour in advance. We respond to how we feel each day, looking at the guide book and fitting around the weather. Moving on every day gets too tiring, so we’re doing one, two and three night stopovers
- Autostradas make the kilometres disappear fast but some of our best driving moments have been along the quieter roads. One thing about the autostradas – be sure not to drive into the telepass gate unless you want some irate Italians behind you
- Our mapping apps are working brilliantly. Time and time again they are steering us in the right directions particularly in the middle of historic towns with complex one way systems. It’s good to try both Apple Maps and Google Maps because sometimes one works better than the other in city centres
- Parking out-of-season has been fairly easy but over the weeks we have got better at saving money. If you are happy to walk for just a few minutes you easily save six or so euros each sight-seeing stop.
- Petrol is more expensive than in the UK – its taking us 100 euros to fill up our tank rather than 80 euros at home. And it’s interesting that diesel is cheaper than normal petrol here – by about cents per litre – opposite to back at home
- It’s not a big problem driving a right-hand drive car except at certain road junctions. But it’s definitely handy having that second pair of eyes in the car and also for paying autostrada tickets
- We’ve stayed in a mix of 3 star hotels and AirBnB apartments. AirBnb definitely has the edge as it is cheaper and we get to enjoy a unique space; tonight we have a rooftop apartment in an ancient palace right in the centre of Lecce. At this time of year booking the night before via the brilliant AirBnB app is fine.
- We’ve really enjoyed our picnic lunches in olive groves, up mountain tracks and sitting in quiet alleyways. We’ve been buying in town supermarkets (think small-scale Tesco Metro) rather than alimentaris which have been fairly expensive
- It’s taken us a bit of time to get attuned to the rhythm of the day – everything is closed in the afternoon, schooldays end at 1pm, and the town centres only come alive at 7pm.