So, after much pain and annoying bus driver issues (apparently no one knows anything about their own city) in Rome, I finally arrived at a highway heading out of Rome, towards Venice. Most hitch hikers know to not get n the highway itself (no autostopping allowed in Italy on the highway, or the “Autostrada” as its known. I had to walk up the on ramp, and discovered that there were many splits in this particular chunk of highway, which because hitcher’s purgatory, as you will stand for many hours, since no one knows your true direction.
I walk a bit along the highway, and find a better on ramp, which I exit, and head on down to where it is legal to hitch. It’s about 7 p.m. and the sun is setting, which is not a good thing for me, being in this particular spot, I begin to search for places to sleep just in case, before it gets too dark.
It just so happens that I have parked myself across from a small restaruant, full of pitying boys. They call me over, sit me at a table, feed me a panino and water, and I return again to my spot. I am at this spot for about 15 minutes more, when finally, someone pulls over and lets me know they are headed to Firenze (Florence), which is what my sign said, (basically to hop distance to distance, most wont pull over if you give a city name an incredible distance away, they wont even stop to just bring you that direction.)
I hop in the vehicle and in my tiny amount of Italian and lots of sign language, I find that this is a university teacher. He takes me to a restaurant on the side of the road as we are traveling, and although I have recently eaten, there is an unspoken rule of “eat whenever you can, you never know when the next meal will come.” While eating, he draws a quick picture, explaining what he is thinking. He invites me to sleep at his home in Florence, in his children’s room, and will return me to the highway in the morning, I agree, as there are no uncomfortable vibes from this guy. At this point in my travels, I am relying heavily on intuition alone, so I figure, I will be more wise when this traveling business is over, and pay attention to my intuition more often.
The next morning, he takes me for breakfast, and drops me at a perfect hitching spot outside of Florence, Italy. It is about 8:30 a.m., and the weather is amazing. I don’t see any reason to rush, so i sit on ol’ blue, my tent, and begin writing in my journal, attempting to catch it up, even with all that has happened in such a short period of time, I have a hard time catching up.
It is heating up fast, and I would make a guess that it has already become about 30 Celsius, and so, I believe it is time to begin sticking my thumb out. An innocent looking, overweight man pulls over and offers me a ride to Bologna, so I jump in, and we weave in and out of the mountains, until we reach the spot at which he drops me. The next driver takes me about 5 kilometers to a completely horrible, horrible spot. It is here that I stop and think “One year ago, I was in Alaska, building a banya (sauna) for the Russian family I was living with. At this time, I thought I would be settling down soon, I believed I was happy, and had you told me that in one year, I would be in the middle of nowhere in some Italian field attempting to hitch hike, I would not have believed a soul.”
It sure is amazing how much changes in such a small amount of time.