- Typical Italian street in Agropoli
OK…I need to talk a little about what it’s like to drive in Italy. In a word, it’s insane. First of all, there are no rules. You read that in the guide books and you think, ok, maybe, but it is absolutely true. People will drive as fast as they possibly can, which is pretty fast in the little go karts they drive. They will pass you on a two lane road with a semi-truck coming at you in the opposing lane without a thought. And while you’re pulling over as far to the right as you can to try to squeeze some extra room out of the narrow road, be careful because there is probably another crazy guy on a scooter trying to get by you on the right. And the really great thing about all of this is that it somehow works. People squeeze by you in these incredibly tight spaces at very fast speeds and nobody gets hurt.
Speaking of tight spaces…..city streets. These are old streets that were undoubtedly designed for horses and little wagons and motor scooters (because those have been around in Italy since the Roman Empire…..for real, that’s why they’re so popular.) So, you’re driving down one of these little narrow streets, with cars parked on your right, and people walking in the street and you have just about enough room to get by, leaving a smidge extra space for the scooter that’s passing you on your right or your left or over or under you and then you see another car coming towards you from the other direction. And you say to yourself, there’s no way this is a two way street….but it is and the car approaching you is not stopping, because that just never happens in Italy, if you’re friends found out that you used your brakes you would be laughed out of the Gelateria, and so you’re freaking out wondering how this is going to work out….you, the people walking in the street, the scooter screaming by you…..and it does, just like magic…..every time.
I’ve been wanting to take pictures or a short video of all this but I just haven’t quite had the time or nerve to take my hands off the wheel to do that.
Oh, and another thing about driving in Italy….roadsigns. I laugh as I say that, Roadsigns….ha ha ha. You see in Italy, they don’t believe in road signs. Actually, you usually get one road sign for your destination, after that, they figure you know where you’re going and they don’t need to bother with any more signs. This is for real. You either develop your intuition about directions, get a GPS or use a lot of gas while you drive in circles. It adds a little extra excitement to the usual thrills of the driving experience.
To be honest, once you get in the groove, it’s a lot of fun to drive on the country roads outside of town. The roads are really good – well paved, no potholes, nice winding curves – and you can get your sports car driving fix without fear of getting a speeding ticket….I don’t think those exist here.
Here is a true driving story that Adrianna told me this morning when were talking about driving. They had an English cop staying here who wanted to drive to Naples. Naples is at another level of lawlessness from what we’ve heard. Street signs and traffic lights are totally ignored there. So, this guy goes there anyway and in his well mannered British way, he stops at a red light. Everybody is beeping at him and passing him on the right and left and to add insult to injury, a scooter actually drives right over his car and down his front hood!!