1 October 2023

Driving Italy: Tolls and road blocks

Zig-zagging across northern Italy can be expensive.

Bolognese in Bologna?

Day three was a big travelling day as we went from Venice in the east to the outskirts of Cinque Terre in the west. Oh and we also got to experience a major Italian road block.


DAY 3: Venice to Moconesi via Bologna

I have been on plenty of holidays where I’ve packed my days and by the time I return home, I’m even more exhausted than when I left and in need of another break. I think I’ve escaped that mindset and try to pace myself, which most often means a later start in the day.

Dan and I had a habit of packing up and heading off around 10am, and day three of this adventure was meant to be a relatively easy day – mostly on the autostrade to set up our next day at Cinque Terre. It was a bit of a tricky route to navigate as we’d wanted to do Lake Como, the Great Dolomite road, and Cinque Terre – three locations in opposing locations in Northern Italy that formed somewhat of a ‘zig-zag’.

We planned our 428 kilometres westward trip to pass Bologna for a lunch stop, and the city did not disappoint. Much like Milan, we parked on the fringe of the downtown region and walked in. We found a small cafe that served a bowl of bolognese that quenched my appetite for pasta, and later explored the markets. Again it was another warm day and some of the locals were happy to shut up shop for the afternoon.


We hit the road again, and like before grabbed our ticket to join the autostrade. But unlike in Milan to Lake Como or the drive up to Bolzano, this was about three hours and several Autogrill food stops before we came across our freeway exit.

Also along the way, we were caught in a breakdown, putting a stop to our journey for 20-30 minutes in a tunnel. All engines off and a bit of a walk to stretch the legs as we waited until the crash cleared.


But the greatest shock of the afternoon was arriving at the toll both. I may have forgotten to mention in an earlier post, but tolls in Italy are expensive.

We’d used the toll road for a good couple of hours and were about to be charged for it. The realisation that it would be greater than the sum of all the previous fares came when a family car pulled up and handed over €41. Our exhaustive trip was fortunately a little less at €33,10.

Our pitstop for the night was Moconesi, a small town about 50 minutes outside the city of Genoa. When we were enquiring on places to stay around Cinque Terre and Genoa, there were several problems with having a car. Most hostels had little or no city parking, and recommended leaving vehicles out of the city and travelling in. Moconesi was well out of the city it didn’t have that problem.

Our hostel accommodation was reminiscent of a school/sports academy, with dorm rooms comprising of a simple hard mattress bed and little to no decor. The shower room was also like a boarding school – our accommodation choices would hit even lower standards later on.

But what I really liked about Moconesi was how truly Italian local community it was – virtually untouched by tourism. You couldn’t rely on English to get what you wanted, rather we had to get by on traditional pointing methods and poorly pronounced basic Italian words. Escaping English was what I had hoped for in our trip.

A wonder up the main road after we had checked in, we discovered the Friday night lawn bowls championship. Not much was open on the main road (the corner store on the one way in and out of town) after getting in well after 9pm, instead we were shown directions to walk up a small hill where there was a pizza bar.

So after a day where we could be unimpressed we were driving, here we were in a “remote” part of Genoa cheering the wins we had – bolognese in Bologna for lunch, wood fire pizza with beers for supper, in a town where we weren’t understood.


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