One of the great things about driving on the Autostrada, apart from being able to unleash the inner Indy racer in you, is the pit stops. The roadside respites knowns as Autogrills are sprinkled at convenient intervals all along the highway route, allowing you to take a breather and fuel up.

Not content with being a mere gas station, the Autogrill offers travelers a host of services (along with gas, of course). First there is the coffee bar. Being Italy, a good espresso can be obtained quickly and inexpensively. Then there are food offerings, from simple sandwiches or pizza slices up to full cafeteria-style restaurants at the larger Autogrills. Then there is the shopping. The stores carry a variety of regional specialty foods, candy and cookies, meats and cheeses to construct a picnic lunch, as well as maps, books, CDs and more. And finally, not to be overlooked, is the availability of clean restrooms; some even boast free showers (nice if you’re still salty after a day at the beach).

To utilize the food service part of the Autogrill you’ll have to follow the proper procedure or risk some angry guests behind you. Go to the counter to look over the offerings and decide what you want. Panini are on display in the case and are given cutesy names; fresh squeezed juice (spremuta) is always available. Once you’ve decided, line up at the register, tell the clerk your order, and pay. Take the receipt to the counter and hand it over to the barista while repeating your order to him, then enjoy your caffe or snack. The cafeteria restaurants operate like usual, pick the dishes you want and pay at the register on your way to a table.

The Autogrills give you sustenance, shopping, and the chance to stretch your limbs before the next leg of your journey.

What to Show/Take it Slow
Getting off the beaten path to reach charming villages and visit vineyards generally requires a rental car.
Reading the Lines
In our continuing Rules of the Road series, we’re familiarizing your with the basics of driving in Italy.
Life in the Fast Lane
Italy is criss-crossed with a high-speed road network called the autostrada.
Fill It Up
In our continuing series, Rules of the Road, we're giving you the lowdown on gassing up.
Child Car Seats
According to the Italian law about passenger safety, any time you seat in a vehicle fitted with seat belts it is compulsory to wear them.

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