Sunday, September 29, 2013

Autogrill Italy

People who know will tell you that eating along Italy's freeways is not a bad deal. I used to agree without reservation and Autogrill remains the best among the several different franchises. You can get sandwiches, pizza, full meals, all drinks from beer and wine to juices to coffee with all the sodas you expect. Toll roads in Italy have service areas, much like Florida's Turnpike however in Italy they are almost villages unto themselves.
On this expressway north of Perugia the Autogrill was actually better than its advertising made it look. The Menu of the Day includes a primo -pasta - secondo -main course, usually meat and contorno which is a vegetable plus wine water and coffee...for $16 which includes tax and tips are not expected.
At a different brand stop on our way home from the Alps we paused in a non Autogrill stop where similar offerings were displayed though the quality of the food was not so good.
It's all self service with counter help, you point they plate and Italian is not required though you'd be surprised how many working people can muster a little English. Unlike the French, Italians are much more easy going with foreigners who can't speak their language and any effort is appreciated.
My roast chicken lunch was rather dry and crisp and not terribly good. I was disappointed. The puddings were better and the fizzy water was...fizzy and cold!
The place mats tried to speak English and did a piss poor job, even though I should point out I am still waiting to see Italian offered as a language option anywhere in the United States alongside English and Spanish. The Italian reads "A smile as long as a journey..." I prefer my translation.
With your lunch recipt you can get an espresso payment included and you take your receipt to the counter after lunch and get a hot freshly made espresso.
That's when the shopping begins. And let me say you can get all your Italian souvenirs and food packages here (US Customs doesn't allow raw or preserved meat products into the country, no salami and no prosciutto). Jams cookies and candies and chocolates:
They pack a full supermarket into these aisles as you wend your way out. Beauty products, toys! Snacks and pasta...
...wines cheeses and hams. Most Italians grow up with wine on the table and alcohol is viewed more as an ingredient than a source of oblivion. Drunken driving is not permitted of course but a glass of wine with a meal is entirely socially acceptable. Most table wine is not terribly strong and when taken over the course of a slow meal is surprisingly invigorating. I actually was glad t see Coke Zero has made it to Italy though it was horribly expensive, $3:20 for a small bottle which sent me back to one euro espressos ($1.35) in a hurry for my afternoon caffeine hit.
When I took this picture I was photographing books maps and magazines for sale. On closer observation they also sell porn. I had no idea and now I'm back in the US I will have to wait a year to check it out more closely!
With gas at ten bucks a gallon Italy has been promoting alternative fuels for years. Diesel is widely available for a little less money and far better mileage. Modern diesel compacts operate just like gasoline cars, you would be amazed. GPL is liquid propane gas also sold everywhere. Many cars have dual fuel, GPL tanks in their trunks alongside regular gasoline power. These guys had drawn my attention because they had been walking their dog prior to filling their tank. All I could think of was Cheyenne.

Anyone driving in Italy can check out the Autogrill and catch a slice of the whole country in the middle of the freeway.


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