Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Italian mountains

The Italian Alps/Dolomites are beautiful, and surprisingly close to the Venice area. The tourist office at Treviso said it would take about 90 minutes to get there - within twenty minutes of getting onto the Autostrada, the mountains were starting to emerge from the haze, and sure enough, we were well surrounded by the peaks within 90 minutes.

We didn't manage to get to any of the skiing areas - they were another 40 km North, apparently - though even where we were, two hours north of Venice, there was snow on the peaks at the end of March (see above). One of the really striking things was the lack of subtlety about the roads and the engineering solutions in general. The motorways ran up through one valley on stilts that must have been over a hundred metres high. Several tunnels on the road were over a kilometre long. "Well, there goes the neighbourhood ....". However, this part of Italy is pretty industrial, judging from the number of industrial areas - wood and quarrying? - so a good infrastructure probably had a high priority relative to picturesqueness.

In general, the autostrada system seems to work better than the UK motorway system. Because of the toll system, perhaps people only use it if they are going somewhere in particular - whereas motorways in the UK are just another (relatively efficient) part of the road network - so tend to get as clogged up as the other roads. However, the tolls weren't excessive - Treviso to the end of the autostrada in the mountains was just over 3 Euros; Mestre to Padua was about 1.5 Euros.

No comments: