While driving through Catania yesterday I thought what a great idea it would be to publish a short driving primer for those silly or deranged enough to contemplate actually driving a motor vehicle in Italy. Of course, I live here, which means that I have to get out and operate my vehicle on these streets every day and therefore makes me infinitely qualified in making the following observations. These opinions are solely the author’s and do not reflect prevailing politically correct thought which indicates that bad driving behavior in Italy is only a cultural difference and, well, you are rather stupid, obviously boorish and don’t understand. My opinion however, would be that anyone with a pulse and IQ over the low digits would certainly would observe the same conditions as noted below.
Courtesy Today's Apathetic Youth Blog - A Normal Scene on Italian Roadways
My daily forays going to and from work remind me of why Italy produced such stunning achievements like the gladiatorial combat, human and animal sacrifice, and super fast cars like Ferraris - they were practicing and socially engineering their citizens for driving in downtown Catania. I now understand...
I love visualization and it is particularly helpful here. So, let me set the stage for your driving primer: imagine yourself in your favorite car (any model of a TLC; mine is an FJ Cruiser, naturally...) driving at breakneck speeds through streets designed in the Middle Ages for donkey carts. Fuel for your journey is $8.50 a gallon. Add in 10 or 20 thousand other smaller cars and Vespas close enough to tell if the driver brushed his or her teeth this morning. Throw in a couple hundred large diesel trucks driving at 7 mph. Ignore all road signs, motoring laws, safe vehicle operating practices and common sense. Dream that you are in an F1 Ferrari on the closed course at Monaco - and actually drive that way. Talk on your cell phone, gesture wildly at your passengers, heartily sing arias from “La Boheme” from your diaphragm, weave wildly from lane to lane without signaling and point out interesting architectural details from passing buildings for your passengers’ education, vary your speed from full stop to redline, test your horn frequently, stop in the lane of traffic to check your map or discuss the finer points of cooking Pasta alla Norma with road workers and then use obscene hand gestures at anyone who might deem your driving behavior as less than optimal. After this fruitful visualization exercise you are now ready to learn The Rules...
The Top 10 Rules of the Road in Italy as I understand them. (I’m not endorsing driving this way or even suggesting that you drive in Italy at all. There are far too many cars here as it is. Please stay home or at least turn left before entering the country. Thank you).
- Buy a very, very small car. There are plenty to choose from in Italy. Preferably purchase your vehicle from someone who never changed the oil and took the car infrequently to their teenage cousin for specified factory maintenance.
- Fill with as many passengers as you can. A Shriner’s clown car comes to mind.
- Drive as fast as the car can possibly go. Press your foot firmly down on the accelerator pedal until it stops. Keep it there.
- Test the steering wheel continually by turning left and right vigorously.
- Ignore all other vehicles on the road, including emergency vehicles.
- Ignore all traffic laws and frequently stop in the lane of traffic, on highway on-ramps, off ramps, in front of markets, food stalls or any other location for any reason or no reason at all.
- Pass on blind curves and before the top of hills.
- Completely Ignore your personal safety.
- Ignore all other motorists’ personal safety.
- Ignore pedestrian’s safety, people’s safety who live in houses near the roadway, other citizens’ safety who might live within a 5-kilometer radius of the roadway, or anyone else who might have heard of cars before.
Extra Credit: Truly believe that if you allow anyone to pass you that your manhood will be severely damaged and you’ll never produce offspring. Oh, and don’t forget to wear your “D&G” sunglasses with your too-small polo shirt with collar turned fully up in the back...
Congratulations. By following the above Top 10 Rules you will be fully qualified to operate your vehicle in Italy. Thank you for your attention during this important primer.
Until next time...