Wednesday, September 12

driving in Italy

Anonymous said...

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 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.


  1. That orange car looks to be in excellent shape. I hope it runs as good as it looks. All of that car as a meal of mozzarella di bufala! Good luck with your new car.

  2. The orange one???
    No no no my friend, guess again!

  3. Beautiful car Niki. At least your car will be safe in the car park and it beats having to look for car spaces.

  4. I love your car. I love the orange bug too! I enjoyed your blog about driving. I remember that in Sicily no one stopped at the stop sign, they honked and if they heard a honk back they stopped otherwise they kept going or they'd flash their lights if their horn didn't work, Ah Karumba!!! And the streets were so narrow, how the hell did they get a vespa with out knocking it over, I often held my breath in town.
    Here in Toronto, my worries are more on the mother nature side. Snowstorms. I'm praying for snow drought! BTW, my husband blew a stop sign last week and I said next time honk when you are about to blow the stop sign, "I did?" He didn't realize he went through one.

  5. Oh man, a nice shiny car like that one deserves to stay in the parking garage and never see the streets of Napoli! My car was without a scracth or dent when we purchased it. We have lived here for almost a year and a half now and every corner of my car's bumper has evidence of people getting too close. It makes me so angry because I try so hard to abide by all of the driving laws and what not and to be as careful as I can while driving... yet my car gets scratched up when it's parked!

    P.S. When I read this post first thing this morning, the last photo wasn't there so I thought the orange buggy was your new car too.

  6. Niki, I think this describes some of the driving instances perfectly. It cracks me up every time because IT'S SO TRUE!!!

    I waited a few weeks after I moved to Naples to learn driving because I was pregnant and scared. Before I knew it, I was driving downtown and driving the Amalfi coast. Of course, I remained terrified, but I had to do it. I wanted to experience Italy in the three years that I was going to be there.

  7. Way to go Nicki! Where is that parking, is it the one by the pizzeria? I'm going to start working on my drivers license in two weeks, once I've got my license I'm going to get a car too!

  8. Good luck Annika! Everyone should have a license.

  9. I love your car!!!

    One of my goals in life is to someday be brave enough to drive the Amalfi Coast. Riding in the passenger seat was exhilarating, but I want to do it myself!

  10. Somehow I missed the MB when I saw your post yesterday. Nice car and much more practical than an antique! Good luck with it.

  11. Nice ride Nicki. My friend Ettore has that car and loves it. know the British do drive on the wrong side of the road. (I kid!)


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