It must be an Italian thing

On the car trip home from Slovenia we were driving south from Bologna towards Florence on the A1 – Italy’s main north/south motorway – when we passed a flashing sign warning of an accident ahead and after another kilometre we gradually slowed and slowed and then stopped.

Both southbound lanes were blocked by cars as far as we could see. Clearly there had been some form of accident ahead and the road was blocked.

When it became clear the delay was more than just a momentary stop all around us car engines were turned off and the drivers and passengers got out of their cars to have a smoke, stretch their legs, have somethnig to eat or drink, or just chat with other motorists about what may have happened ahead.

Now we were not used to this behaviour but quite clearly in Italy this is what you do when there is a delay. No one seemed to be getting anxious or stressed, everyone just smoked, stretched, ate, drank and chatted until the traffic eventually started moving again about 25 minutes later.

This movement was short lived and 300 metres further down the motorway we stopped again. Same drill – the cars emptied out and the impromentu social gathering reconvened. We did our bit to amuse the locals by taking photos of the traffic and having Jean and the girls pose by the car.

After another 15 minutes we were on the move again, this time for good.