It is official! We have our Italian driver's license and we are driving! After waiting for about a week for their printer to get fixed, we finally got our license. We went to pick it up and got our new European license plates.
Then we had to take it to get inspected. Unfortunately the long crack across the windshield (that I have been driving with for 2 years) doesn't pass inspection here in Italy, so we had to deal with that. Luckily they were able to get a new windshield in one day. We were very surprised since they don't make this vehicle here. But, unluckily we had to pay a lot of Euros. :( Everyone take a few moments to admire the new, costly, clean, windshield.
When driving in Italy you must have our insurance posted in the bottom corner of your windshield at all times. See the little parking meter thing on the left that says "Ora de arrivo?"
They do not have parking meters here, so when you park your car you are supposed to twist the nob (on the inside) to the time you arrived at the spot.
Before moving here we heard about how crazy driving in Italy was and that driving laws were seen as suggestions by most citizens here. So, I was prepared for the worse...and it isn't too bad. No one goes the speed limit. They say that it is very rare for people to get pulled over for speeding. They have speed cameras set up in various places that take your picture and mail you a ticket. There are very few stop lights, mostly traffic circles which can get a little chaotic when you add bicycles in the mix. There are tons of people riding bikes, so you have to always be aware of them. Lanes are not always clearly marked, so you might be driving down the road and all of a sudden someone decides to create their own lane.
I think many people are intimidated to drive here because the signs are unfamiliar and in Italian, other drivers are not patient with slow drivers, traffic circles are not that common in the states, there are tons of people on bikes, and it takes awhile to get to know your way around the town. I feel pretty confident about driving, I just don't know where anything is, so we will soon be investing in a GPS.
Everyone thought we were crazy for bringing our truck to the tiny streets of Italy. So far it has not been a problem. Of course we have yet to drive in the narrow streets of down town, but I think we will be fine. Luckily our parking spot is in an open courtyard type area, so I don't have to squeeze into a garage. We do get a lot of looks from other drivers though. Even though I took off my Texas Tech window sticker, it is obvious that we are Americans since we are 1 of like 10 that drive a truck.
We drove on the Autostrada last week for the first time. The speed limit is 130 kph or 81 mph. That is actually slow unless you are a big 18 wheeler. Most people are going about 85-90 and then you have the crazies zooming by at over 100 mph! Taylor of course, loved it. I am perfectly fine letting people pass me while I go 75!
Gas is insanely expensive here! That is why they all drive small cars and ride bikes/walk/take the bus everywhere. Right now a liter of fuel is 1.60 Euro/$2.20!! One gallon is equal to 3.78 liters. So they are paying about $8.35 a gallon! Luckily we get gas coupons every month. We purchase them at the PX on post for about $4.45 a gallon. We then take our coupons to certain gas stations and use them as money. You are allowed a specific number per month depending on the number of vehicles you have and the size of the gas tank. I think we get 400 liters/105 gallons per month which Taylor thinks will be more than enough.
Every now and then I'll try to talk Taylor into writing something on the blog. I will call it...
Taylor's Two Cents...
Its not that they drive crazy. Its just that people do not have the American notion of "personal space". No space is given to bikes when you pass. You drive 30 mph on a narrow street lined with parked cars and pedestrians. When merging you pull right out in front of people because they will yield. After all they don't want to hit you anymore than you want them to. Plus all they cars weigh about 30 lbs, so they stop pretty quickly. I must say if I had kids I would let them take candy from strangers before I would let them ride bikes on a public street.