Day 121, 122 and 123: Marseille to Bologna

I love Hitchhiking. It’s great. It’s free, You get to meet a lot of people and sometimes they feed you and give you a bed. But sometimes it sucks. No matter how experienced or savvy you are occasionally shit happens – it’s unavoidable.

On my way out of Marseille I got a ride with a rare-plant dealer and his two primary school daughters. They were nice and I’m nice so we had a lovely time together. They were going to Milan so plant man told me he’d drop me at a gas station before the turn off to Bologna – where I wanted to go. Thanks plant man, that sounds great.

Who stops at a gas station 500m before they need to turn off?

Hi, where are you going? Genoa. Nope. Ventimiglia. Nope. Marseille . . . hahaha nope. Nope. Nope. Nooooooppppeeee. Nope.

I waited there for an hour before accepting the first ride which wasn’t going 300km in the direction I came from. This dude was going to a small town and would drop me off at a toll on the entrance to the highway.

I get out of the car and start walking to the Bologna exit.

“HEY! What are doing?” Fluoro vest. Looks like Jesus if he was horny and Algerian.

“I’m going to hitchhike.”

“That’s illegal there.” Pointing at the Bologna exit.

“Ok. What can I do?”

“You have to stand over there.”

It was on the other side of the toll. Closest to the turn off, not to Bologna, but to where I had just come from.

“What’ll happen if I wait here.”

“I’ll call the police and they’ll pull you by the ear.”

Well fuck you Algerian Jesus. I waited for another hour.

In another car – “Hey man, where you need to go?”


“Oh ok. I can drop you at a gas station along the way.”

“Ok cool.”

No. Wait a second. This looks familiar . . .

It’s the same fucking gas station I was at three hours ago.

I wait for another hour. A bunch of truck drivers and dutch people offer to take me to Genoa or Marseille. I think about giving up and joining them. Maybe I can get a train from Genoa the next morning . . . but that’d cost about €65 so fuck that. I’d rather pay that money to some cops on the highway, at least they’ll give me a lift somewhere.

From the gas station I could see a sign to the turn off I needed. Simple enough – I’ll just walk down the highway and hitch at the turn off.


That was just a turn off for the turn off. The real turn off was 4km away and involved me climbing through a field of cacti, jay walking across four lanes of expressway and walking across a highway bridge with no barriers while trucks flew past at 120km an hour.

Well fuck. There’s no turning back now.

I find a stretch of highway with a large emergency lane and stick my thumb up. Within two minutes a car pulls up. A shaky old strumpet, it stops about 150meters in front. I run to the car – emergency lanes are pretty dangerous places to pull over in Italy because everyone drives like a maniac. In that 150m I pull a muscle in my back.

If that guy was going anywhere near a bed I would of called it a night but he wasn’t.

“I can drop you at the next gas station only.”

My back was fucked and raising my arm at the hitchhiking angle felt like tearing and yelling. But what else was I supposed to do. I hate sleeping at gas stations.

I only need one more ride I told myself. Then I can have a nice gelato and sleep for twelve hours.

Five minutes later.

“Hi! Where are you going?” I’m practically yelling I’m so enthusiastically desperate.


I laugh. What a strange day.

I met a weird Brazilian dude yesterday. He was cave mud coloured, juicily lipped and stone faced. I imagine he’s pretty good at celebrity heads because he’s has to guess golum every single time he’s played. I met him on a highway enramp in marseille, he was hitchhiking in the same spot I’d been advised of by hitchwiki. He’s the first hitchhiking snob I’ve ever met.

I said hello and asked if he wanted to hitchhike together.

“Have you ever hitchhiked before?”

Yeah I fucking lift.

I told him I’d had around 150 rides. He gave me a cursory glare, noted I had no sign and told me to stand around the corner. I guess he thought his glum-ass face and saggy puppet arm had a better chance at picking up.

“Hey Filipo, do you want to smile?”

“That’s contrived. I like to be myself.” Whatever you want golum.

We got in a car eight minutes later.

Every time I get a ride I write down how long I had to wait.

“Do you want to know how long we waited?” I asked as we got in the car.

We? I got that ride.”

This is what I did in my last day in Marseille.

image image

Sebastien said there are much better spots but you need a car to go there. Much better? Seriously? Maybe there’s a river of chocolate and naked nymphs running around handing out gold bars.

Hitchhiking summary
Rides taken: 12
Distance travelled: 679km
Average wait: 25mins

I’m amazed that despite my shite luck going into Bologna my average wait was still less than half an hour.

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