Grado is a sunny, sandy peninsula between Venice and Trieste. It has several campsites, but the best is Villaggio Europa, with its own stretch of beach, a water park and chalets sleeping six from €62 a night
Back in the olden days (60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s), budget travellers - students in particular - could thumb their way around the continent, usually with a dog-eared copy of the Hitchhikers Guide to Europe stuffed in their backpack. Road junctions in/out of major cities would be full of queues of hopeful travellers, thumbs in the air, winning smiles on their faces and a slightly optimistic felt-tip-pen-scrawled destination board (saying something like "Sicily - ONO!" or more nebulously "South? please!" being brandished at each passing vehicle.
In these days of budget air travel, advance-booking websites and widespread increased 'fear of strangers'(mostly media fuelled - it's really not any more dangerous than it ever was - ie, not very dangerous at all with a bit of common sense), such scenes are sadly rare these days.
My tip is that in Italy, such budget travel is still a viable option for those on a shoestring budget. I last summer hitched from Genoa (having started in France, so coming from Nice) to Venice, via Milan, Verona and Padua, spending a couple of days in each interesting stop off. Italians seem more generous and open-minded to (ie less scared of) picking up and conversing with strangers, and if you show a bit of willingness to be friendly (a smattering of school-level Italian, or even an ATTEMPT at some basic words, really helps) you'll meet some really interesting, often very helpful people.
More than one driver offered me a meal or even a bed for the night (I stress I wasn't looking for this, but it was really nice when it happened), and nearly all had great local tips and advice, and at the very least a bit of local colour and insight.
Travel with a tent if you're doing this. Italians seem more ok with pitching up by the side of a road or in a public park for the night, than their northern European counterparts. I'm not sure if this is a legal thing, just saying they seem much more tolerant and even friendly about it.
When you get somewhere prohibitively expensive, such as Venice, you are still able (oldskool-style) to crash in the train station. Be prepared to be abruptly woken and moved on as the station starts to fill up, say from about 6.30am, so it's not perfect - but it's a place to lay your head for a few hours and see a truly beautiful city for just the cost of your food etc, rather than the literally hundreds of euros it would cost if you had to pay for accommodation/travel.
Doing this, I spent a few days each in Genoa, Milan, Verona and Venice (with the odd stop-off in between, depending on where my driver was going), and hitched back again, and the whole trip was just over a fortnight. I met some fantastic people, had lovely experiences, saw places that I could never in my wildest dreams afford if done through conventional travel means, and the whole thing cost approx 20 euros a day, give or take. And that included everything, even a couple of (supermarket-bought) beers in the evenings. There is no other transport/accommodation alternative that would have come close. Basically, without plucking up the courage to hitch/camp (which turned out to be a lovely way to do it anyway), I'd never have seen Venice and probably never would.
Obviously nice hotels, car-hires and train travel are plusher, but this really does mean that budget travellers can experience this richly fascinating country without spending the next 10 years paying off a credit card debt, and you might just meet some really interesting, often quite idiosyncratic locals along the way.
(Obviously, it suits a flexible itinerary rather than a fixed one! - but this can be an unexpected boon in itself...)
And you'll be reviving the dying art of hitching along the way, and also - perhaps - making people a little bit less unnecessarily afraid of strangers. As it should be ...
Obviously, take sensible precautions. Be clean (you're more likely to get picked up). Be friendly (you're less likely to get chucked out). Don't get in a car with someone who's clearly drunk or appears dodgy. Have an exit strategy, just in case (saying you feel car-sick and need to pull over usually works). Girls travelling alone should of course be particularly circumspect, but even then, with a bit of common sense the risks are far lower than you'd imagine. I know dozens of people who still do this, and there have been only a couple of dodgy incidents out of hundreds of rides, and even they weren't THAT serious. (For example, I've had more threatening experiences on the tube in London to be honest).
Oh, and if the local police do hassle you for camping in a lay-by or sleeping in a train station, just remember to be polite, smile and say you didn't realise - they're nearly always surprisingly helpful and understanding.
So if you're on a budget, go back to the 70s - pack a tent and stick your thumb out! It could open whole new worlds of otherwise unaffordable luxury destinations, and of all the places in Europe I've tried it, Italy is one of the most consistently friendly, safe and open to this of any I've ever been to, even today.
And all that money you save in flights/car-hire/trains/hotels, you can put towards an absurdly priced can of Coke in St Mark's Square. And it'll taste all the sweeter for knowing you hitched there for just pennies. See you there!
Everywhere! (though my Nice - Genoa - Milan - Verona - Venice - and return - trip is not a bad suggested starting route...)
These must be the cheapest drinks in Venice. Wine sells for 80c a glass at the Bacareto, and you can have a glass of prosecco for 2€ at the Bocon. You buy at the bar and there is limited seating at the Bocon, while at the Bacareto you simply sit on the stepped area at the edge of the canal.
Bacareto is in Campo de Tolentini near the Piazzale Roma bus station, and Bocon is in the Campo Santa Margharita.
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