I took a road trip through Italy and the rest stops left American ones in the dust
15.09.2023 - 16:35
Whenever I go on a road trip, I make it my goal to stop as few times as possible.
Not only am I trying to get to my destination as quickly as I can, but I will also do anything in my power not to have to use a rest-stop bathroom.
In my experience, American rest stops often leave much to be desired, from unclean restrooms to long drive-thru lines for food.
I'd never given much thought to whether or not subpar rest stops was a uniquely American problem — until I went on a road trip through Italy.
I had the thrill of spending of two weeks in Italy with my family in August, and my father planned our vacation meticulously.
As part of his plans, he decided that instead of buying us train tickets to travel around the country, he would rent a three-row van to drive us around so we would have more flexibility when we got to each location.
I was excited to see different parts of Italy as we traversed across the country, expecting to be taken with the sights of towns and the landscape.
And unsurprisingly, the views from the journey blew me away.
But I didn't expect to leave raving about the rest stops we found along the way.
We stopped at multiple rest stops during our trip, and I was particularly impressed by the bathrooms, which were immaculately clean.
The stops also had an abundance of fresh food, which was a big change from the service areas I'm used to visiting in the US. In addition to the pre-packaged snacks you'd expect to see at a rest stop, we found baked goods, pizza that smelled heavenly, homemade sandwiches, salads, and freshly pressed juices. They even served coffee in porcelain mugs.
I also found that it was easy to find a filling meal that was at least a bit healthy, which often feels impossible at an American rest stop.
For instance, I had a sandwich with prosciutto, cheese, and arugula at one stop that left me satisfied for the rest of our ride — and with no stomachache like a burger and fries often do.
There wasn't just food at the rest stops, either. You could buy phone chargers, headphones, books, toys, gift cards, and anything else you might need.
I even saw personalized birthday candles at one stop.
At the end of the day, they were just rest stops where people grabbed snacks and refueled their cars — like the ones I'm used to visiting in the US.
But I couldn't get over how unique the rest stops there felt, from the kinds of Italian foods available to the care put into their design.
I saw no shortage of beautiful things on our vacation, but I felt like the rest stops offered a glimpse into Italian culture I wouldn't have seen otherwise.
If you're going on a road trip to Italy, I recommend stopping along the way. It'll probably be worth your time.