What we learnt about Italy

Termoli at first light – one of our many overnight stays

It’s so sad to leave Italy after our 54 day road-trip. Here are ten things we will take away, some significant some less so:

  1. Late Autumn is a great time to visit Wherever we went we had attractions to ourselves and could easily park. And the weather was perfect; warm enough to miss the winter cold but not so hot we couldn’t keep going.
  2. There is not one Italy We drove through 14 of Italy’s 20 regions and it’s probably true that the only thing that unites them is Italy playing in the soccer World Cup. The referendum demonstrated a divided north and south, but the regional loyalties go much deeper.
  3. You can’t have a secular holiday in Italy The story and beauty of Italy is told in its buildings and art that worship the Roman Catholic faith. And it’s powerful still today, just stand outside a church on a Sunday morning.
  4. There are lots of steps We like walking but you can’t get the most out of Italy without the ability to climb lots of steps. They are everywhere. Goodness knows what the infirm do here!
  5. Is the passion being sucked out? We wonder if Italy is becoming more like northern european countries. We never saw road rage, arguments in the street, passionate embracing.
  6. A poor country with rich people From the outside the houses look like near ruins, but once inside they are stylish and desirable. A perfect metaphor for how the world’s economists misread Italy; even if the banks collapse the Italians themselves will surely be fine.
  7. Dogs are best avoided Italian dogs are best behind very high security fences. The trouble is many are not and often terrified us.
  8. Don’t drive a British car without a passenger If you did it would be a simple nightmare at the autostrada toll booths or joining slip roads.
  9. In cafes you get served by Italians We were never served by an East European or a migrant. In Italy, jobs are for the family or friends.
  10. They don’t drink much tea Kettles seem to be rare in Italian kitchens; “I’ll just put the kettle on” doesn’t translate very well.

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