Day 20 - Sat Apr 23 to Civita
This morning we grabbed a rental car and drove South toward Rome, to the small Tuscan hill town of Civita (technically Civita de Bagnoregio, near Orvieto). The drive was... interesting. In Florence we had a tough time finding the highway. The signs, where there are signs, are very confusing, plus you have a large number of impatient Italians tailgating you, and scooters buzzing all around you. After about 25 min we finally found the freeway (though free it is not - we'll get to that later!). Cars drive all sorts of speeds on the 2 lanes each way. I had no idea how fast I was supposed to go, but eventually settled on about 130kph (80mph, I just checked), mostly in the slow lane. That seemed about average or slightly above average. Plus I'm not sure how much happier our brand new diesel Fiat would have been at 140kph+.
On the way we stopped at an "Auto Grill." These exist about every 50KM or so. We thought it was just a restaurant (see picture), but it was actually a big building stretched over the freeway that had 4 restaurants, a small grocery and bathrooms. Fun! We ate at Spizzico, which is Italian pizza fast-food. After about 2 hours, we reached our highway exit, and found a toll booth. €8.20 from Florence! Now we're scared about the drive to Venice (and for that matter, our plan to drive all around France later).
The town of Civita is super-tiny and super-old, up on a very steep hill (picture). We hiked our stuff up to the B&B, and explored the town in about an hour. Lots of old buildings, some caves, and a great view of Tuscany. We ate dinner at our B&B, hosted by gracious Franco, who goes way back with Rick S (we've started calling him Reeeck), and prepared a very good meal. We shared a table with Andy & Allison, nice new acquaintances from Portland, who were about 2/3 through a 17-day Italy vacation.