The man left his house in Lombardy and headed south via Bologna, before being stopped by police in Fano, a town around 420 kilometres south, on the Adriatic coast.

He was reportedly “wandering aimlessly” at 2:00 am.

After charging the 48-year-old with violating Italy’s 10:00 pm to 5:00 am COVID-19 curfew, police officers unravelled his strange story, according to Bologna-based newspaper Il Resto del Carlino.

The man, who appeared “lucid and focused” despite being cold and tired, told police he hadn’t realised that he had covered so much ground on his week-long journey, and that he had been given food from people he met along the way.

It was then discovered that the man’s wife had filed a missing person’s report for her husband at the police headquarters in Como.

The man was taken to a hotel where he was fed and provided a place to sleep, while the next day his wife set out to drive south to collect her runaway husband, who had worked up a hotel bill in addition to his €400 fine.

The man has been dubbed “Italy’s Forrest Gump” on social media, with Italian daily Corriere della Sera commenting: “Had there been no police checks, who knows where he could have ended up.”