From our correspondent Luisa De Bellis:
I’ve always been a great supporter of traveling by public transport. I strongly believe that is the best way to get to know a country for real, having to cope with strikes, delays, long waits, old ladies chatting, young girls chatting even more, animals sitting on one’s side, and who knows what else. As Italian, I have been traveling widely through my beautiful country by train, bus, ferry, giving myself the chance to meet the most random people with the most incredible stories. And yes, it is the people who make a country. Unfortunately, recently the cost of Italian trains has increased a lot, and this could prevent foreign visitors from traveling though Italy, or expacts living in a city from hopping on a train every weekend to get to know other regions. But there is no reason to worry. There is a fun, easy, comfortable, cheap, safe way to travel through Italy without having to own a car and still being environmentally friendly: it’s called BLA BLA CAR.
This collaborative online platform connects drivers with people looking for a ride. Members create a profile like in any other social network, and they use it to look for drivers/passengers, as well as to give feedbacks about them. The price is set from the platform itself according to the distance, and it is fix: no matter the car gets full or not, the single passenger always pays the same. Feedback about punctuality, flexibility, driving and sociability guarantee that everything will go smoothly.
I happened to start using Bla Bla Car while living in Florence, as several weekends I needed to go back to Milan. A train Florence – Milan takes two and a half hours and costs 50 euros (unless booked a couple of weeks in advance), a price that almost no one these days is ready to pay. Using Bla Bla Car I used to spend 18 euros for a three and a half hours trip. The people I met traveling this way? I couldn’t recall a name or a face, but could never forget their story. Each and every member of this community has so much life to be told, so much energy to share, and is anxious about getting to know other people’s life experiences. Generally, members are well-educated, very open minded and good travelers. When it comes to passengers from different nationalities, drivers are more than happy to speak another language and genuinely willing to make them feel at home. Be it 1 or 4 hours long, a trip by Bla Bla Car is always a journey. It is not only about getting from A to B. Once you get off the car you are richer than when you got on. And this is what traveling is about.