In general, Americans think that Italians are crazy drivers. Perhaps it’s a stereotype about Italy. But I remember that when I was in Naples, it seemed that those at the wheel rarely respected the street lights, considered other street signs only as a suggestion, drove attached to the bumper in front, and cut off the street to pedestrians, especially those in the pedestrian walkways. And, certainly, they drove like a bat out of hell. At that moment, I decided not to buy a vespa.
So, when we decided to go to Tuscany 2 years ago, I thought that it would be easy to rent a car and drive through the beautiful countryside. After all, we would not be in a large city. It would be tranquil and fun. Was I ever wrong!
I drove the entire time. Despite the GPS and the brother of my husband who was the navigator seated next to me, we got lost several times. There were so many roundabouts and at times it wasn’t clear which exit to take. So, I drove slowly…causing other drivers to become angry as they honked their horns and yelled things like “What are you doing?” together with various hand gestures.
Even driving in medieval cities was difficult. There were so many narrow streets, many that were one way, and others that were closed to vehicular traffic at certain times. Inevitably, I made the wrong decisions. But the worst was trying to return the rental car in Florence. Suffice it to say that it is difficult to drive in city streets that you do not know, and at the same time, to search for an address and try to follow the street directions …in a fairly new language. Four months later, I received 3 citations for street violations (like driving in a lane reserved for public transportation) taken by a telecamera. All of the violations occurred within an hour. Very costly!