We are all prejudiced against different things in life. Prejudiced can be both positive and negative.
Both Melvin and I had prejudiced against Italians. Maybe was it because of media or movies. Because what they tell us is the truth right…?However, we didn’t expect anything from Italy. From the beginning, the route didn’t even include Italy but because of the law against Shanty in France, we had to. But that resulted in a couple of fantastic weeks with a combination of amazing weather and frustration that drove us crazy.
Zona Traffico Limitato
Italy is definitely a super amazing place but they have some rules that got both Melvin and I think a lot if they were hypocrites. Zona Traffico Limitato. Basically, it means “Only Viecles with permission is allowed to drive here”. You can find this sign in almost every city in both outer and inner circle. In the outer circle, you can find the sign and sometimes the police is checking you and your car for the permission. In the inner circle, you find cameras that will scan your license plate and see if they can find it in their register. If not, you will most probably find a ticket in your mailbox when you get home. And this can take up to a year if you live outside of the country. If you’re driving and all the sudden see this sign you have no possibilities to turn the car around and at least with a camper.
This law with limited access has been decided because of the EU laws of every country responsibility of the environment. These zones are meant to reduce the emission from the cars and save the environment. And that sounds great at first right? But don’t forget that Italians throw garbage everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE! Plastic by the roads, trash bags in the woods, aluminum cans on the beach and glass bottles in national parks. Not just that. When we were in Italy during the fall they cleaned their gardens. Which meant that they were burning a lot of waste, in that includes trash. So these environmental zones are good but to have this kind of scavenging… hmm
In other ways, Italy was better on some things than Sweden when it came to recycling plastic. All stores that we were visiting had environmental plastic bags, even that bags that you put the fruits and vegetables in. All though, that doesn’t mean that you are meant to throw trash everywhere. But this easy law about the plastic garbage bags should have been a law in Sweden for a long time ago.
But didn’t we like Italy?
Yeah, now it sounds like we didn’t like Italy at all. But we did, we absolutely did. I mentioned earlier about our stereotypes that we had. They were gone by the wind after just a couple of days. We haven’t met an unpleasant person during our three weeks visit in Italy. Everybody has been so helpful and accommodating and have been answering all of our questions in the best English they’ve got.
We had the luck on our side. The weather was amazing. Literally, when we arrived in Italy the rain quit pouring down. We were driving from the worst rainstorm ever and I would like to say when we drove over the border the rain stopped and the sun was saying hi. And what a welcoming we got when we arrived. We were driving through a mountain chain and because of the rain the previews days it resulted in waterfalls everywhere and it was beautiful to watch.
Nature was amazing, the people were fantastic and the way that they accepted Shanty made us both so happy. It’s quite funny how you need confirmation when you have a dog with that reputation. Anyway, everybody loved her, even other dog owners. The dog culture in Italy, and probably in general in southern Europe, is different than in Sweden. I would like to say that in Sweden many dog owners are so laid back. The dogs shouldn’t say hi to each other and it would be a war if a dog were off leash. And don’t even talk about a dog coming up to another dog. They would kill each other (in the human’s mind, the dogs would actually just love to play a little). In Italy they just let their dogs walk up to other dogs without even saying a thing. If there would be a problem, the dog owner would say that and the other dog owner just accepted it and went on to the next dog instead. Shanty has made so many new friends in Italy and the funny thing is that the energy between the dogs is so different. There was no tension, growling or barking. Just sniffing, waggling tails and they were so playful.
I think it’s a big difference how you let the dogs interact with each other. In Sweden, we easily keep the leash tight between the owner and the dog when they are going to say hi. The dogs aren’t allowed to be dogs. In Europe, they let them be dogs and run to each other and say hi how they want. No nervous energy from the human holding onto the dog.
We decided to start our Italian road trip with Venice and we found a perfect parking spot for campers and vans where we decided to stay for two nights. Venice is a place you heard that you need to visit if you go to Italy. It was definitely an amazing city. Especially that traffic was forbidden there. There were no cars, no mopeds not even bicycles that could kill you. Just boats. That made the city very calm and nice to be in. Melvin and I discussed this and wouldn’t it be a great idea to actually stop traffic in the central parts of cities. The only thing you need to keep an eye on is other human beings and in our case other dogs. And cats…. Italy is filled with stray cats. Which for us is a pain in the ass while Shanty is thinking… Youm!
However, let us put it this way. Venice is overhyped. It’s an amazingly beautiful city. But everything looked the same. Well, the thing is this. Melvin and I are restless souls. Which means that we want to see new things all the time. And we felt that we had seen Venice on half a day. Therefore, we chose to go and sit down in a park that of course cost money. If it was one thing we noticed in Italy was that everything costs money. Instead, we went to a smaller park where it was an event going on with music and art. We met an amazing American couple that also fell in love with Shanty. The day was about to end and we’re driving towards Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette’s city. Verona.
What is your experience of Venice if you’ve been there? Please share in the comments.
Which girl hasn’t been in love with Leonardo DiCaprio sometime in their life? Have you seen the movie, Romeo & Juliette? Or maybe Letters to Juliette?
These two movies have two of my favorite actors in them, Leonardo DiCaprio and Amanda Seyfried, and Letters to Juliette is actually filmed in Verona. That made me long to go there. I imagined that it would be like the movie. That I could just walk into Juliette’s backyard and stand there alone and watch all the letters and messages on the walls. In my face, I actually had to crowd with at least 50-70 other people in there. Melvin didn’t even go in which was a smart move.
Yeah, in Verona you can find Casa de Julietta which means Julietta’s house. People from the whole world is coming to leave love letters and write their names on the walls. The walls were filled with everything from letters to menstrual clots. Inside of the backyard, you can find a statue of Julietta. And if you hold your hand over her heart you will have luck in your love life. That’s nice you might think if they kept on to just holding her over her heart. But of course, people would exaggerate (sorry, but almost only men) and took her on her breasts and played with the nipples. Fine, it’s a statue but still disrespectful and objectifying in my opinion.
We decided that Melvin and I should wander around in the city and up to a castle. We sat there for a while and then wander down to the city again to try to see Julia’s backyard again. Around 5.30 that evening the place had more space and it was easier to go in. It was beautiful and the energy was pretty amazing. But one thing that was ruining the feeling was the souvenirs stores that they had to have inside of the backyard.
Verona was quite small therefore we decided to go home again.
I don’t know why, but both Melvin and I felt that we had to go to Florence. I don’t know what made Florence that special. However, we drove to the city. Without expectations and also the wrong day. We were there on a Sunday and on Sundays, everything is closed. Of course, they had vegan restaurants but they were closed.
We wandered around in the city. And to be honest, these old buildings are so amazing. Let’s face it, they’re built long before the techniques that we have today. And all the statues outside of all these buildings are amazing.
We ended the day with a cup of coffee. For 8 euros For two cups of coffee. Actually, it was an espresso with water… I wouldn’t say it was worth it. Anyway, both Melvin and I started to feel tired both physically and mentally. We got easily irritated over small things and let’s face it, we had been walking around a lot since we left Sweden. From place to place and city to city. Our bodies started to let us know that… they’re not up for this anymore. The plan was to go to Pisa the day after. And we did, but not for the reason to visit The leaning tower of Pisa. We were going to take a vacation from our vacation.
Do people really go to Pisa just to watch the leaning tower? When we read about the city we thought that it actually was the only special thing with Pisa. Therefore we decided not to go. Yeah, of course, you can build your own experience of it but now when we both felt sore and weak by now, we felt that it wasn’t worth it. All though, we went to Pisa anyway. But we drove to a place around 12 km outside of the city. I little campsite with a horse farm, a little lake and no big cities that could disturb the silence.
The sun was shining the whole day but when we were going to bed it started to rain and it was amazing. Imagen the sound of rain against the roof of the camper while we were sleeping, all three of us, in the bed. The morning after we experienced a weather phenomenon that was pretty cool.
It was like the sky was split in half and on one side the sun was shining and the sky was blue. On the other side, it was dark clouds and the thunder was showing us a crazy light show up in the mountains. The campsite was surrounded by mountain chains and therefore the weather was staying far away.
That day we left and kept on driving to Stroncone. A little city in the middle of Italy. We actually used Airbnb and we booked for days in the countryside to rest and wash some clothes.
It took almost 4 hours for us to drive from Pisa to Stroncone. What we didn’t know was that the place was located up on hills. Or we didn’t read the description from Air Bnb. That means that we had to drive up on hills and mountains again and that got our minds back to our Austria experience. Nervously we kept our fingers crossed that our brakes would make it. And yeah, the roads weren’t built for campers either so that was one of a kind experience. We made it and we had a great couple of four days.
When we stayed at the house we got to know two amazing people. Roberto and Loredana. They really opened their home for us and we shared a lot of interesting conversations during the evenings. Loredana is working from home so most of the time we hung out with her and it was really nice. We got tips on amazing places that we should visit. And we really appreciated that. The only problem we had during our stay was the cats. They had three beautiful cats. At least we thought. Shanty didn’t. We always had to keep an eye on her and the cats. But it worked out quite well. Not only that they were amazing hosts. They also gave us amazing snacks, appetizers, and smoothies. It was a wow moment for our taste buds.
We got tips to go to a waterfall called Marmore Falls, that is Europas biggest handmade waterfall. The history about it is really interesting but we will write about this in another post where we’re going to give you guys some tips about places you should visit. But Marmore was an amazing place, so keep an eye on that post.
Rome. We couldn’t miss out on Rome. And to our big surprise that city actually became our favorite one of the cities we visited in Italy. The weather was fantastic and these days were probably the warmest days during our whole trip. When we drove towards Rome we actually saw to hitchhikers. Haven’t we learned by movies and all these scary stories that you should not pick up hitchhikers? Of course, we have! But we gave them a ride anyway. Melvins first question was:
Where are you coming from and where are you going?
Maybe he would suit as a hell of a cop. Or not…
It was a really nice couple from Poland that was out backpacking in Italy for two weeks. We didn’t have the time to talk that much but we found out that they were going to this gigantic lake a couple of miles away from Rome. Interesting we thought and didn’t think more about it.
We walked from the motorhome parking into the city which wasn’t that far away. Such a beautiful city. A lot of ruins and old buildings and you felt the soul. I thought it was a great city.
But something I would warn people from that’s going to Rome is the people who are selling jewelry on the street. They are playing with your concience. It was a man who started to talk to Melvin and me. He was asking where we came from and when we said Sweden his whole face started to smile.
Sweden is fantastic. I love that country and do you know why? Your people don’t hate people like us, you’re not racist. As a black man, we have a lot of problems. Let me give you this bracelet. Please, it’s a gift from me.
Of course, we got moved by his words and that we got happy that he had that picture of Sweden and Swedish people. We said that he didn’t need to give us the bracelet but he insisted. And Melvin gave him some money to be nice. An hour later we see another man do the exact same thing with another couple. We got fooled but it was maybe a little bit foolish to think something else.
Our time in Italy was coming to its end and we were driving towards the ferries that were going to take us to Barcelona. Yeah, we thought that it was coming to an end but actually we had to stay in Italy for another 11 days to wait for the papers for shanty to arrive at a friend of ours in Barcelona. We had some problems with our gasoline. Our bottles were almost empty so we needed to find a place to refill them. The thing is that in Italy you can’t refill all bottles. You need to have LPG bottles and we have regular Swedish bottles. And they have a law in Italy that they can’t refill these. If they do they will lose their license to handle gasoline. But we met a guy named Dima that really tried to help us find a place where we could refill our bottles. With no luck but he gave us his number so we could call him if ever need anything then he would try to help us the best he can. Who doesn’t appreciate that?
Do you remember that couple I wrote about earlier that was hitchhiking to Rome and then keep onto a big lake? We actually had to drive 40 minutes to another city called Bracciano. And the lake that they were going to was called Lago De Bracciano. What coincidence! It was actually a couple of great days there. We got the time to catch up on some Swedish Idol, edited a video for our Youtube channel and rested a lot.
The campsite was amazing and the man who owned it was fantastic. The cite was located just by the lake that we told you about and almost every day we walked with Shanty on the beach, and she got to run off leash which she loves.
The days were passing by and we got closer to the ferry experience with Shanty. We were so nervous about bringing her into Spain, maybe a little bit more than we needed to. But the story about the ferry will be our next post. Because that was the most terrible experience during our whole trip. Stay tuned!
5 Important things to think about when you’re going to travel by car in Italy:
We would love to share some important things to think about when you’re driving in Italy.
- Keep your eyes open for Zona Traffico Limitato. You have to be really careful because you won’t be warned in advance and when you arrive you won’t be able to turn around.
- Be aware of the traffic rules and what you need to have in your car. First aid kit, a reflection west and a warning triangle.
- Gasoline. In Italy, you can’t refill your bottles if you don’t have LPG-bottles (motorhomes)
- Plan your driving and route. Diesel and gas are really expensive.
- Plan your driving according to your budget. In Italy, you have to pay taxes to drive on the high way. You can drive on the small roads but be aware of that the roads are pretty bad.
Are you interested in using Air Bnb during your travel even if it’s by foot or in a camper? Then create an account here and get 35 euro in travel credit on your first booking (you have to book a minimum of four days)
That was it for today. Until next time, spread love!
Vicky & Melvin