Sunday, June 21, 2009

Driving in Italy

As most of you know from word or mouth or reading, not necessarily experiencing, driving in Europe is quite different then the United States. On my way back from taking Brandon to the airport I thought about writing a blog about the Autostrada so that is what I'm doing! Why did I decide to write one about driving in Italy, well, mainly because I was doing 150kph (95mph) and I was getting passed like I was standing still. Ever since I have had kids I haven't driven as fast as I used to so going this fast kinda freaks me out a little but it's either stay some what close to the pack or get run over! Literally!!!

Now, for an Italian to get a Drivers License they have to pay a hefty 2,000 euro and take classes that they too have to pay for. A lot of people don't drive because of that fact. Could you imagine the US if they were to do that. People would go crazy! If you are caught by the Carbinari for any reason and you don't have your insurance, registration or your safety stuff, they can take your car right then and there and it's possible you'll never be able to get it back. You are only allowed so many points on your DL and so it's important that try not to get pulled over. LOL

Anyways, The posted speed on the Autostrada is 130kph, on highways it's 110kph, in town it's 50kph, and out of town not on the Autostrada is 90kph. Do people around here follow those speed limits, um, not a chance! Even in town people are passing cars that are going the speed limit and no one seems to care. But I'll talk more about towns in a little bit. Back to the Autostrada....

This is something that everyone has probably been through at least once in their lives. It's a toll booth. Yes that's right, every time you want to get on or off the Autostrada you pay for it! You can of course take the back way everywhere you go but that takes so much longer to do. And let me tell you, it gets expensive! When we went to Lake Garda on Friday it cost us 3,10 euro to go there and another 3,10 to come back. Taking Brandon to Venice to the airport it cost a total of 8,20 euro! $11.17 just to go to the airport, not including gas which is $1.21 a LITER!!! And to make the Autostrada even better, there aren't exits like there are in the states. You can't just get off at the next exit and turn around because sometimes that next exit is 20k down the road! And of course when you get off at an exit to turn around you still have to pay the tolls getting off and back on again! So whatever you do, don't miss your exit! LOL... One of the good things about the Autostrada though are the Autogrills!

These are basically rest stops like in the States but at every autogrill there is a gas station and a restaurant. Most of the time the restaurants are in the part of the Autogrill that is over top of the Autostrada so it's nice to just sit and watch the cars go by. Also, you can go from one side of the Autostrada to the other, walking of course, through the top part. If you don't see what you like on one side, it's more then likely going to be on the other side as well. There is always a section with toys, books, candy, drinks, wine, meat and noodles! I saw heart shaped noodles at the one we were at. How cool is that! Each side also has little cafes in case you didn't want to go to the restaurant. They sell everything from pizza to sandwiches to desserts! In order to exit the Autogrill, you have to walk through every part of one side, I guess they figure if you walk by everything you are bound to buy something!

The restrooms along the Autostrada are usually "guarded" by a person sitting at a table outside waiting on tips or you actually have to pay to use them. Most that I have seen that you have to pay are ,35 euro (basically 50 cents) just to take a pee. Oh and ladies, if you aren't used to going outdoors you might want to get used to it before you get here. I'm not sure how the men's bathrooms are but a lot of places we've been too even off the Autostrada you have to "squat" to pee. I guess you could stand up and try to aim for the hole but there's no telling how dry you'd be once you left. Not all bathrooms are like this of course but every time we go somewhere and Trinity has to potty, it's always the hole in the floor! She has learned that she doesn't have to be scared of the hole anymore! The picture above means an automatic flush. Boy I wish everywhere had those here. Usually you have to "figure out" how to flush the toilets. Some are hard to push and others are the button on top of the toilet itself. The longer you hold down the button the more it flushes so be aware of that when you leave. If you just press it for a second and walk out, it's more then likely not going to flush all the way!

Sorry, got a little sidetracked there....

Driving in towns is sometimes hard to figure out. The signs aren't too hard to figure out for the most part but there are a lot of people that fail the tests 2 or 3 times! I've found that the hardest part is the roads themselves. Not only are they tiny roads but you usually have cars parked on both sides of the road and your mirrors come just inches from theirs.

Another bother to me is the round-a-bouts. If you get car sick then you really need to stay out of those! However, there is no way to avoid them! Some of them have 4 lanes all the way around, I haven't quite figured that out yet, I stay to the outside so I can get out of them as fast as I go in them. They use round-a-bouts here instead of stop lights or stop signs. Of course there are still a few places you'll find those but not very many. I have only seen 2 stoplights here in Vicenza, then again, we haven't really toured by car around here yet. That was all done on foot which is always soooo much easier.

Anyways, that is the basic gist of driving in Italy. It's a pain in the but and I'm going to have a hard time readjusting back to the states when we get back there. I've trained my eyes to go straight to the kph on the dashboard and am always on the lookout for the Porsche or Ferrari that are going mac 10! But all in all, it's been fun! Driving in Italy is something I'm learning to like!

1 comment:

  1. I prefer to stay away from the "holes in the floor" and I will definitely not be driving while I am there!!!