Day 7 PART TWO — Driving
Driving in Italy is funny because Italians have a very unique approach to the road. First, they act like there’s no such thing as a speed limit. Those numbers on the signs? They’re merely suggestions.
Mercedes scream past as if you’re stopped, while motorcycles and Vespas weave in and out or fly down the center line between lanes. On the same road, you can also get stuck behind cars poking along 10-15 kph slower than the posted speed.
Second, the Italian driving style feels extreme. Especially in the big cities, drivers jerk the wheel around corners, race ahead only to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting other cars or for a stop light. No matter how large or small the vehicle, they forced their way into tiny spaces. We saw tiny cars parked perpendicularly to the curb on streets where everyone else was parallel parked — and they fit!
In the country and small towns, which were rarely straight for more than 300 meters, we had to be vigilant. We never knew what we would encounter around each bend and over each hill. Could be a speeding car passing in the oncoming lane, or a tractor moseying from one field to the next. Or a huge tractor-trailer that appears to take up more than its allotted lane.
The signs were surprising in many ways. Stop signs say STOP, just like ours. Yield signs are a triangle but it’s upside down. I couldn’t find street names or highway numbers posted in the country — instead we followed way signs pointing to the next town down a given road. That made following google maps a challenge because I couldn’t tell if we were in fact on a specific highway or not!
Both Scott and I drove our 9-passenger manual van there. It was good to take turns being driver and being navigator. Eventually we figured out how to guide through traffic circles — instead of counting and saying “take the 3rd right” which was often hard to count, we said “turn right at 1 o’clock.” Much better.
We both feel quite proud of navigating through Italy without causing any wrecks, damaging anything, or being pulled over by the police. We won’t know for sure we avoided breaking any traffic laws until Aug 8, 2020. (Cont in comments)