Saturday, July 16, 2011


"What? Eat on the freeway?" my wife thought I was crazy when I first suggested such a thing. Not anymore.

It isn't necessarily gourmet eating but I don't shy away from the idea of stopping at the freeway rest stops for a not too bad at all meal in Italy. It's cafeteria style so even if you can't speak Italian you can fall back on the time honored point and shoot system.

The Autogrills are usually built across the lanes of traffic and serve everyone coming and going with salad bars, pasta stations and "secondi" which means main dishes and you can mix and match as you choose.She chose salad, I had pasta with eggplant and tomatoes.

You get china to eat off and proper metal cutlery, you can drink wine or beer and they offer fruit and dessert as you would expect from a nation that likes to eat properly. To go boxes and eating in your car are not concepts that have yet penetrated the Italian psyche.

It actually forces you to take a pleasant break from the drive, sitting upstairs above the traffic zooming down below.

These things have been around for decades and in my youth when I was a whiny back seat passenger my harassed mother driving us home for the summer holidays from our English boarding schools would get her own break by stopping at the Autogrill, though just like today she had to walk through the convenience store below with all it's gaudy plastic temptations to get to the food upstairs. These days too public smoking is mercifully banned in Italy.

Like the advertising says, start your vacation at...


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Chuck and the Pheebs said...

Gee - I thought it said:

The vacation begins in Autorgrill.

Taiwan and Korea have the same - it beats the hell outta Mickey D's.

Hope you're enjoying Umbria, man.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Michael Beattie:

The civility and appeal of the menu in the Autogrill is at odds with the fact that each of these restaurants spans the six lanes of the highway below. Could you imagine such an arrangement over six lanes of the New York State Thruway? Or the Garden State Partkway on the July 4th weekend? You'd be eating over 5,ooo stalled vwehicles, spewing poison, noise, and heat.

But t is an interesting and picturesque concept.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads