05 April 2009
Popular topics for many people who visit Italy for the first time are the Autogrills, the area servizi on the autostrada (service plazas on the toll road). Autogrill is a specific company but is used as a generic term for area servizi and the services that are offered can vary from one to the next. You can always purchase fuel at these locations and there will be at least a shop that offers caffe’ and snacks. Bigger area servizi will offer full service restaurants and stores with a wide variety of products, some even have shower facilities. Two of the largest are on the outskirts of Rome and are suspended over the roadway like a bridge.
In the US you will expect to find rest areas along the highway where you can stop and find a bathroom and possibly some picnic tables. In Italy you will be pressed to find more than a small place to pull your vehicle out of the speeding traffic; picnic areas with trees and shade on the autostrada are as common as a speed-trap.
People talk about Autogrill when talking about area servizi but along the southern Adriatic Coast on the A14 I find that those operated by Sarni have better food and service as well as a good selection of local products for sale. I believe Sarni is a Pugliese company so they may not be available in all regions though I have seen them around Rome and Naples.
For those who like Illy caffé there is also PitStop who I find do make a good caffé. Actually you are hard pressed not to get a good caffé at any of the area servizi in Italy…just another one of those small pleasures of life in Italy.
Where is your favorite area servizio in Italy?