I often get asked what the best way is to get around Italy. While trains and buses might be the fastest and more convenient options if you’re only going to be visiting major cities, renting a car is definitely the most fun option! Being able to drive at your own pace, really see the countryside, stop at random little villages along your route…you can’t put a price on these experiences.
One of the best reasons to drive in Italy in my opinion, however, is the ability to stop at and experience the wonder that is the Autogrill, or the Italian rest stop.
As with everything else they do so well, Italians really do rest stops well. A typical Autogrill offers the option of a cold meal, or a sit down multi course hot meal. You can stop for just a caffè at the bar, or you can shop the specialty market for all local cheeses, meats and wines. You need to get souvenirs? No problem. At Autogrill you can buy books, music, toys and electronics. Forgot toothpaste? Autogrill has you covered in their convenience store section…from deodorant to cookies, you can pretty much do your weekly shopping here.
When I travel to Italy I make it a point to stop at as many Autogrills as I can because although they all pretty much offer many of the same standard things, each one in each different region does so with its own unique flair and personality. My favorite sandwich is the Rustichella, a flatbread stuffed with speck and provola. My favorite drink is their caffè, which rivals any other bar’s in Italy. My favorite thing to buy is the Mulino Bianco cookies Pan di Stelle, to have as a snack in the car.
So the next time you go to Italy, if you have the chance to rent a car, do so. And while you’re driving on the autostrada make sure you stop at least once...which will be your favorite Autogrill?