We had a squad of us hitchhiking this summer; paired into two teams we hitchhiked from Rome to a small area near Grossetto where we were doing workaway at a farm. Living in a cosy yurt, waking up early, eating breakfast with the eggs from the chickens and ducks, working in the field, meditating by the river and meeting neighbours in the countryside was the most nourishing experience.
From there we hitched up to Sienna, slept in a park full of rowdy party-goers, then to Bologna to stay with a friend, up to a suburb of Milan, down to Genova to jam with some new found friends and couchsurf in a lovely flat of a man dressed as a matador, who owned an extensive collection of manga novels and a pet tortoise. Then struggling for 6 hours to get a ride out of Genova and sleeping on a beach in Savona. From there getting a ride with a lovely Hungarian man who offered us a place to stay, and then getting a ride all along the coast of Italy towards France with a couple of dudes driving close to 100km to get to a head shop and sharing their joints with us as they kept rolling them all the way, blasting reggae with the windows down.
I've learned that it's not a good idea to hitchhike when you're in a rush. In this case, we had a bus to catch from Paris that would take us to London. And we were rushing our way through France. But I did learn how wonderful and exciting hitchhiking is, regardless of how exhausting it may be. Sure, there were some rides that weren't all that memorable. A lot of times you forget about that part of the journey and don't remember the faces of who gave you a lift, you might not even talk much. But the fact that people are so open and willing to lend a hand to a stranger without receiving anything in return is a beautiful experience. And, on the whole, the rides we get are with such interesting and lovely people.
Besides meeting fabulous people, and traveling for free, hitchhiking is also fantastic for its environmental benefits. There isn't any extra carbon being emitted for your transport. These people are traveling regardless, cars on the motorway are so often driven by just one person, with so many empty seats in the car. Hitchhiking reduces more people taking the bus or driving themselves. Bonus!