Wednesday, September 12
driving in Italy
Nicki, I have a question. Has it been difficult to drive in Italy considering that in the UK you keep on the left? I am askins 'cause quite the same has happended to me.... I was used to drive in Italy and once in London I have not been able to drive.
When I first came to live in Italy I drove over from England with my right hand drive English car, and I felt perfectly comfortable driving around in it...as long as I remembered which side of the road I was supposed to be on. The only inconvenience was having to get out the car to pay at a toll gate.
When I first started driving in a left hand drive car, I found it wasn't so easy. I had to remember that the width of the car was on the other side, and one of the first times driving around town I accidentally knocked over a vespa parked on the side of the road, which fell onto the next vespa, causing that to fall on the next one and so on, creating a domino effect until about 20 scooters and vespas were lying in a big heap.
I drove away fast.
I don't like the way people drive here, it can be scary and very dangerous, especially on the motorway between here and Rome. I don't like it when I am driving in the fast lane and a car pulls up right behind me, centimetres away from the rear bumper and flashes and beeps at me to move. It feels like bullying and is very dangerous.
I don't like the way that pedestrian crossings, stop signs and traffic lights don't actually mean anything to drivers here. I get abuse hurled at me for stopping at a red light by the impatient driver behind me. I nearly get run over, or at the least a fist shaking at me if I try to cross on foot on a pedestrian crossing. And as for stop signs...
I was 8 months pregnant, driving to the hospital for a scan and I came up to a stop sign, leading onto a busy road. So I slowed down and stopped. A large bus was coming past anyway, so I had to stop. The car behind me didn't stop though, he crashed into my car so hard that the stereo shot out of place into the back seat. He got out to see if I was OK and saw that I was pregnant. I was fine but he panicked, offering to take me to hospital. I dryly told him I was already heading that way. It turned out that he was a carabinieri, policeman and rather than go through the legal procedures he offered to pay me cash for damages.
When Skye was born I decided it would be safer not to drive, I didn't want to risk taking her out onto these roads where people have no respect for other drivers. So I stopped driving until I was forced to get back behind the wheel last September when Carlo broke his leg. I was terrified but had no choice and during those 2 weeks when I made the hour and a half trip to the hopital every day, I had to do it through torrential rainstorms, a mudslide, in the dark with broken headlights, and all in a country where for me people drive on the wrong side of the road and change gears with the right hand instead of the left!
But I managed without problems and slowly got my confidence back. And now I'm ready to drive again. There were just a couple of problems. First of all, I have never felt comfortable driving Carlos car, a beat up old Honda Civic that has been lowered so much that you can almost feel your bum dragging along on the road. You need help from a crane to get out of the car, it is so low.
Also the problem of parking in town. We've always parked on the road somewhere, usually about 40 minutes walk from home, and that is just damm inconvenient. One of our cars even got stolen, just 5 weeks after we bought it.
So I decided to buy myself a new car, something that I liked, not taking Carlo into consideration at all. I've had to put up with his boy racermobile for years, now he can put up with my choice. And I have also decided to fork out the loadsamoney it costs to keep the car in the only carpark in town that locals are allowed to park in, (Yeah, that is another whole blog post)which happens to be near home. Luxury, albeit an expensive one, but it means I get my freedom back.
at 1:13 PM