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Travelling in Italy - things I wish we'd known in advance...

(14 Posts)
PeachesMcLean Tue 26-Jun-07 21:39:41

Just thought I'd post a couple of things that I wish we'd known in advance, things that anyone with proper experience of Italy might find hilarious... but we on the other hand managed to completely miss these bits in the guidebooks.

1. Motorways. You take a ticket as you get on and pay as you get off. Most important: To get a ticket, Press the Big Red Button on the ticket machine. Yes, I know, you've always been taught not to press big red buttons. They mean danger. Ejector seats. Explosions. Green buttons are for Go, Yes, Give me a ticket please. In Italian motorways though, you need to press the button that says Do Not Press Me. The Red One.

There's a smaller red button with a label next to it that says, in English, "press this for assistance". Don't believe it. The operator will speak to you in Italian only (this being Italy of course).

Now you've read this on MN, you won't end up reversing up the slip road into oncoming traffic and doing a U turn in the middle of the road to get away from the autostrada.

We'll end up on an Italian Police Camera Action "Now look at these idiots..."

2. Trains. You buy your ticket at the ticket office. On the train, a guard stamps it. NOWHERE does it say "Get Your Ticket Stamped in the Small Yellow Machine on the Platform BEFORE Boarding the Train". Fail to do it and the guard will charge you 5 euros for your ignorance.

So, as promised, nothing earth shattering but a couple of things that caught us out.

Oh, and 3. None of the Italians who frequent MN will give you their tips for the delicious Tuscan wild board dish you had several times. Its all a delicious secret.


DelGirl Tue 26-Jun-07 21:42:18

don't you mean wild boar? . Yes, tis yummy!

cylonbabe Tue 26-Jun-07 21:42:20

many yeasr ago now, well, 2002, but i found roman pavements to be non pushchair friendly. i.e non existent.
all terrrain ones wouldhave been easier, btu we didnt know that then. and went along with little umbrellla fold ones.

PeachesMcLean Tue 26-Jun-07 21:44:45

those games of Italian draughts and backgammon can get pretty hairy you know. At least I didn't put Bore.

Brangelina Tue 26-Jun-07 21:45:43

You only got charged 5 euros on the train for not stamping your ticket? You must have impressed the guard, it's 25 euros where I live!
I'm sure I could add some tips but I've been here so long that everything seems normal to me, it's the UK that has funny habits now.

Mhamai Tue 26-Jun-07 21:50:04

Your pushchair unfriendly post cylonbabe reminds me of actually trying to find a bloomin pushchair in the first place. My d ex p decided it would be less hassle to pick one up over there..............Baaaaaaaad move, omagine the middle of July on your first visit to Rome with a cranky hot child <ds then 4> with craky hot ex <then a child, still a child > Lot's of peole giving directions and none of them right. <shudders at the memory>

Skribble Tue 26-Jun-07 22:52:18

Ah now I knew about the train ticket thing because of MNet. I was also advised what station to go to, which platform and even the time .

I was also advised about the very heavy traffic on holiday weekends.

But yes the tolls confused us too. I thought once through the toll you were heading one way on the motorway, I didn't realise that once through the toll you can go either way. We also reveresed and did dangerous U turn.

Also on the subject of roads, in towns and built up areas every shop and restaurant has road signs everywhere mingled in with the real ones, make sit very hard when just out of the airport and the names you are looking for are knowhere to be seen amoungst the hundreds of official looking signs.

But once on them the toll motorways they are great.

bookwormmum Tue 26-Jun-07 23:08:53

Ah but did you encounter the metro escalators that don't run until you step on them as well? I was all for setting up the stairs next to them in Milan as I assumed that they were out of order/switched off until my bf pointed out that it was an energy-efficiency scheme.

Ellbell Tue 26-Jun-07 23:17:37


However [sheepish emoticon], I did once end up 'accidentally' heading into Slovenia (before it joined the EU) and had to do a U-turn (that bit was easy as on a motorbike), ride the wrong way past the rest of the queue to go through the border control (getting lots of pointing and shouting and 'look at those bozo Brits on that motorbike' looks), and finally squeeze through the crash barrier/central reservation thing in order to get back onto the right side of the road and back into Italy! (In my defence, I should say that dh is rubbish at map-reading. It's normally my job. But on the back of a bike it's not very easy!)

NB you have to do the ticket-stamping thing on buses too.

brimfull Tue 26-Jun-07 23:29:43

It is also NOT very clever to hire a 9seater van and drive into tiny villages in the tuscan mountains, unless of course you like running over elderly italian mamma's feet..and having to reverse out of said villlage.

Also not recommended to drive into the centre of san gimignano(sp?) with aforementioned van and have to do a 28point turn to get out again,in front of a cafe full of diners

PeachesMcLean Tue 26-Jun-07 23:36:16

GGirl, LOL

It's all very well having GB stickers when you take your own car abroad, they should have ""GB " stickers when Brits get a hire car there...

Ellbell Tue 26-Jun-07 23:46:15

Also, do not stop at zebra crossings, unless you want pedestrians to point and stare. Stopping at zebra crossings is not the done thing.

Skribble Tue 26-Jun-07 23:51:12

Were a trendy scarf of somekind. Seems to be very popular to wear something round your neck.

PeachesMcLean Wed 27-Jun-07 18:55:15

Ah yes, zebra crossing ettiquette. Driver don't stop. Pedestrians just step out. Looked like a recipe for disaster to me but somehow they must make it work...

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