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Offline l uomodellaluna

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Driving In Italy
« on: August 13, 2014, 03:48:33 PM »
Driving In Italy: A Guide For Tourists.
 

There is a simple method of achieving the right state of mind for driving in Italy.
Before you start your car for the first time, sit in the driver's seat, take a firm grip of the steering wheel and think the following:

I AM THE ONLY DRIVER ON THE ROAD, AND MINE IS THE ONLY CAR!!!

It may be hard to believe, especially after you have seen Rome during the first week of July or Milan during the rush hour, but millions of Italian drivers believe it and so must you. An Italian driver's reaction to any encounter with another vehicle is, first, stunned disbelief, then outrage. You don't have a chance unless you can match this inherent self-belief. It isn't enough to say you are the only driver or to think it -- you've got to believe it.

Remember, your car, is THE CAR -- all others are aberrations in the divine scheme.

Driving in Italy

Part 1 -- The Law
Part 2 -- The City Streets
Part 3 -- On the Highway
Part 4 -- The Pedestrian
Part 5 -- The Scooter Plague
Part 6 -- The Investimento

Part 1 - The Law
In Italy, as elsewhere, there are laws about streets, maximum permissible speeds, which side of the street you can drive on, and so forth. In Italy, however, these laws exist only as tests of character and self-esteem. Stopping at a stop sign, for example, is prima facia evidence that the driver is, if male, a cuckold or, if female, frigid. Contrarily, driving through a stop sign is proof not that you are virile or fertile, but that you are a person of consequence.

This is why the Italian driver who gets a ticket gets red in the face, swears, wrings his hands and beats his forehead with his fists, and this is why people come out of nearby shops to snicker and point at him. It isn't the fine, which is ridiculously low, nor the inconvenience -- for most offences you simply pay the cop and he gives you a receipt -- but the implication that he is, after all, not quite important enough to drive the wrong way down a one-way street. Remember, therefore, signs, laws and the commands of the traffic policemen are for the lowly and mean-spirited. Every Italian's dearest desire is to be the exception to the rule -- any rule. The only place he can do it regularly is in his car.

Part 2 - The City Streets
The basic rule of driving in Italian cities is -- force your car as far as it will go into any opening in the traffic. It is this rule which produces the famous Sicilian Four-Way Deadlock. Sharp study of this phenomenon suggests that the Deadlock or
Degenerate as it is known can be broken if any one of the cars backs up.

That brings us to another important point about Italian driving. You can't back up.
You can't because there is another car right behind you. If you could back up, and did, you would become the object of ridicule, for backing up breaks the basic driving rule and suggests a want of spirit.

The impossibility of backing up accounts for some of the difficulty you will have in
parking. Aside from the fact that there isn't anywhere to park, you will find that
when you try to parallel park by stopping just beyond the vacant space and backing into it, you can't because that fellow is still right behind you, blowing his horn impatiently.

You point at the parking place, make gestures indicating that you only want to park. He blows his horn. You can give up and drive on or you can get out and go back and try to get him to let you park. This can be done by shouting Personal Abuse in the window of his car. One of these things will happen:

1. He may stare straight ahead, ignore you and go on blowing his horn (if
this happens, you're banjaxed, for no foreigner can out-bluff an Italian driver).
2. He may shout Personal Abuse back at you.
3. He may, especially in southern cities like Naples and Palermo, where honour
is all-important, get out of his car and kill you.

The parking problem created by the backing up problem creates the Right Hand Lane
Horror. At no time should you drive in the right hand lane. One reason is that Italians
usually drive headfirst into parking spaces. Thus, every third or fourth parked car
has its tail end sticking out into traffic, making the right hand lane a narrow winding lane.

Unfortunately, the centre lane has its hazards, too -- the right lane drivers swerving in and out of the centre lane as they steer around the sterns of half-parked and double-parked cars. Double-parked cars can be found one to a block north of Rome and two to a block south of Rome. Italians will only double park in four lane streets. In six lane streets they triple park. Right lane driving is further complicated by the Italian style of entering a side street by driving halfway into the first lane of traffic and THEN looking.

The way to deal with Lane Swervers and Crossing Creepers is to blow your horn and accelerate around them. If you make a careful in-lane stop when your lane is
invaded, you not only expose your social and sexual inadequacies, but you may
never get moving again, since you also mark yourself as a weakling whom anyone
can challenge with impunity.

While performing these dangerous gyrations, it is imperative to blow your horn. The more risky the manoeuvre, the more imperiously you must hoot, for all Italian drivers accept the axiom that anything you do while blowing your horn is sacred. (Horn blowing, incidentally, except in cases of serious danger, is against the law in every Italian city.)

Remember that one-way streets in Italy are not one way. To begin with, a driver who has a block or less to go before reaching his destination realises that, when they put up the signs, they were not thinking of cases like his. He drives it the wrong way, going full throttle to get it over with quickly and to prove that he really is in a terrible hurry. More importantly, however, Italian one-way streets always have a "controsenso" lane -- that is, a lane for going the wrong way. It is reserved for taxis and buses and is always full of taxis and buses, producing the two-way one-way street, which, in turn, produces a staggering number of lawsuits, pedestrian fatalities and hysterical foreign drivers.

The feature of Italian cities is the piazza -- a wide space entered by as many as eight streets in which a Bernini fountain is hidden by parked cars. Italian police
commissioners have sensibly ordained circular traffic for most of the piazzas. But
the traffic circle, with its minuet-like formality of movements is, to an Italian driver,
just so much exhilarating open space. You do not go around a traffic circle. You go
across it at high speed, taking the shortest path from your point of entry to your
intended exit, while sounding your horn.

All Italian city driving requires and soon produces familiarity with the Funnel Effect -- especially in those cities that preserve medieval architecture in the town centre. All Italian cities are force-fed with automobiles by an excellent trunk road system. This produces both the Funnel Effect and the Reverse Funnel Effect.
At first glance, it may appear that the Funnel Effect is more dangerous and
unnerving than the Reverse Funnel Effect. This is not correct. True, the unwary
motorist entering the Funnel may get trapped against the side and have to stay
there until traffic slacks off around one or two o'clock in the morning. But you can
usually abuse your way out of the trap.

It is the Reverse Funnel that produces what many insurance companies refer to as 'death or dismemberment.' It's the effect of bottling a number of pride ridden and excitable Italian drivers in a narrow street for a half mile or more and then suddenly releasing them. It's like dumping out a sack of wharf rats. As each car emerges, it tries at once to pass the car ahead of it and, if possible, two or three more. This car ahead is passing the car ahead of it and so on. If Italian cars were even roughly of the same power, this would simply produce a wild acceleration, but the cars range from 500 cc (0.5 Litre) midgets up to Formula 1 racing cars. The first hundred yards of the Reverse Funnel, before they shake down, is a maelstrom of screaming engines, spinning tires, screeching springs and blowing horns.
 

Part 3 - On the Road
Italian roads, like Italian streets, change their character unexpectedly. It is not
unusual to be driving on a six lane modern asphalt highway, then to round a curve and find that you are suddenly driving on a two lane sunken road of mud with the original Roman paving stones sticking up here and there. Most roads, however, are something in between these extremes.

The paramount feature of Italian driving is "il sorpasso". The word means "to pass with an automobile" and "to surpass or excel." By the way, it is not where you arrive that counts, but whom you pass on the way. The procedure is to floor your accelerator and leave it there until you come upon something you can pass (not necessarily a motor vehicle). If "il sorpasso" is not immediately possible, settle in its wake at a distance of six or eight inches and blow your horn until such time as you can pass.

Passing becomes possible, in the Italian theory, whenever there is not actually a car to your immediate left. When an Italian driver sees the car ahead of him on the road slow down or stop, he knows there can be but two causes. The driver ahead has died at the wheel or else he has suddenly and mysteriously become a person of no consequence, which is roughly the same thing and a fate that hangs over every head. If the driver ahead has, in fact stopped for a yawning chasm, the passer is done for. But more often, the first driver has merely stopped for a railway crossing gate. The same thing, naturally, is happening on the other side of the gate. The result is the Crossing Double-Cross or Railway Impasse.

The instant the gates go up, all drivers obey the Law of Occupation of Empty Space and four of the cars meet in the middle of the tracks, followed closely by
Fourhanded Personal Abuse. The drivers of the left-lane cars usually team up
against the drivers of the right-lane cars, but this is by no means a rule. Sometimes the three in the more expensive cars will team up against the one in the cheapest car. Sometimes all four fall upon the unfortunate crossing guard, whose sole fault lies in the fact that he happened to be on duty for a change.

In Italy you will see bigger lorries/trucks than you have ever seen in your life -- huge, eight-axle double artic's/semis with cabs seating four abreast. There are no special speed limits for trucks in Italy. As if the very sight of these things were not terrifying enough, the drivers paint mottoes across their cabs, just above the windshield, usually religious. It is nerve-shattering to meet one of these monsters coming downhill at fifty miles an hour on a narrow mountain road. But panic looms if you see GOD Is Driving written on the cab, while Heart of Jesus, Help Me doesn't bear thinking about.

Part 4 - The Pedestrian
It is considered gauche to be a pedestrian in Italy. It is in bad taste. A pedestrian is a Person of No Consequence. The Italian pedestrian does everything he can to avoid acting like a pedestrian. To cross the street at the pedestrian crossing, for instance, would be to admit he is a pedestrian, so he crosses in the middle of the block, strolling slowly through the traffic, presenting 'La Bella Figura', trusting to luck and the fact that no self respecting Italian driver would want to ruin his Giorgio Armani suit. He is trying to make it clear that he is not a pedestrian at all, but a driver who has momentarily alighted from his car.

If you treat him like a pedestrian, thus drawing attention to his shame, he will be
furious. Do not look directly at him. Do not drive around him. If he challenges you to drive within four inches of his toes, drive within four inches of his toes, as if he were not there. Of course, if you drive on his toes, he will become an Injured Party, which in Italy outranks even a Ferrari driver, and he will shout Personal Abuse at you and call a cop.

Part 5 - The Scooter Plague
To get some idea of the Italian Scooter Plague, imagine the chinks between cars to be filled with hurtling motor scooters, each sounding its tiny horn, racing its motor. Sticklers for naked realism can go on to imagine the chinks between scooters filled with bicycles and small children learning to roller-skate. I used to think that nothing could be worse than the Italian Scooter Plague, but I was wrong. As young Italians get more money in their pockets, the Scooter Plague gives way to the Motorcycle Menace which is louder, faster, smokier, and altogether more surpassing.

Part 6 - The Investimento
The Italian word for an automobile collision is "L'Investimento". When you are involved in a collision (notice I do not say "if," but "when"), you will at first wonder what you should do. Sit tight until a cop arrives? Call the consulate? Start bribing witnesses? Don't worry. The aftermath of "L'Investimento), provided there is no serious injury, is as formal as the figures of a quadrille. Simply follow your partner.

First, all drivers and passengers spring from their cars shouting Personal Abuse.
Passers-by spring from their cars. Pedestrians, hopeful of being taken for motorists, act as if they have been principal victims in the crash. Stores empty as shoppers join the crowd. Invalids rise from their beds for miles around to totter to the scene, shouting and gesticulating. Do not be afraid of this crowd. Even if you are utterly and absolutely in the wrong. Half these people are on your side simply because the other half are against you.

If a priest has blamed you, the Communists become your witnesses. If a rich man
should point out that you were, after all, dead drunk and driving up the pavement
with your eyes closed, any man with calluses on his hands will swear he has known you as a teetotaller for many years. All this blame and praise in unimportant, however.

In an Italian collision, blame has nothing to do with the actions of the drivers but
is entirely a matter of status and virility. The driver of the newer, more expensive car is automatically in the right. He is, in fact, an Injured Party. Any car, naturally
outranks any scooter and any sports car outranks any family car, not chauffeur
driven. This seems simple but can become complex. For example, does a brand new Fiat 600 outrank a two year old Fiat Multipla? What are the odds as between a ten year old Porsche and a Mercedes that needs washing? As if these and similar questions were not enough, the bearing and dress of the drivers becomes an additional factor. If one driver is in a suit and tie and the other is not, he raises the rank of his car by one grade -- unless the other is accompanied by a blonde under thirty and over five feet tall. If one has a calling card and the other has not, the balance can shift in an instant. If both have calling cards, it becomes a contest of titles.


Offline linsead oil

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Re: Driving In Italy
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2014, 04:06:56 PM »
to much to read for me but did you quet the  golden rule  thow your rear view mirrow away   , then you wont know there is  a Ahole up  yout tail pipe  ;D :'(

Offline Riso

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Re: Driving In Italy
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2014, 08:05:07 AM »
thought that was very funny, ;D

Offline Sunshine

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Re: Driving In Italy
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2014, 12:11:08 AM »
Phew, For a moment I thought you were going to give the full detailed version

Offline SamFire

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Re: Driving In Italy
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2014, 03:18:15 PM »
Very funny

Offline Postmac

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Re: Driving In Italy
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2014, 05:50:09 PM »
Well worth a read - very good