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Here is the sum total of my experience in driving in Italy.

Here is the sum total of my experience in driving in Italy.

Apr 26th, 2002, 08:03 AM
  #41  
Lois
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Very informative and entertaining. Dean, have you ever thought about writing a travel guide yourself? I've read your wine reviews (if you're the same Dean), and now your driving tips. Made me laugh out loud at work. Keep up the good work.
 
May 13th, 2002, 10:24 AM
  #42  
dean
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topping for mike. Not exactly about the Amalfi but more about driving in general. I ahve rented a car in Italy 7 times and while the cars ahve returned damaged, I have not.
 
May 13th, 2002, 10:38 AM
  #43  
Capo
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Well, after hearing so many horror stories about driving in Italy, I finally did it, for four days in Tuscany this past April and you know what? It wasn't nearly as bad as the horror stories I'd heard.

To be sure, many of the Italians love to drive fast, and tailgate. But, on two-lane roads, the vast majority would pass as soon as they had the chance. The only ones that bugged me were the ones who tailgated even when they had ample opportunity to pass. They seemed to get pleasure out of tailgating.

The main thing that was a little unnerving at times was when someone would zip around a corner, heading at you, and they'd be halfway over in your lane, but I've seen that in France as well as Italy.

With one exception, I never had a problem with people tailgating on the autostrada (one guy had plenty of room to pass yet kept so close to me I could hardly see the front of his car.) In fact, I LOVED driving on the autostrada because, as with the autoroutes in France, people understand the simple concept of slower-traffic-to-the-right, faster-traffic-to-the-left, a concept that eludes many people in the Seattle-Tacoma area and, in fact, the entire state of Washington. I don't know what it's like in your metropolitan areas or states, but where I live, there are a lot of people ("enforcers", I've heard them called) who feel that, as long as they're going the speed limit, they have every right to drive in the left-hand passing lane. And to make matters even worse, every day I run into people who even drive less than the speed limit, cluelessly tootling along in the passing lane, stacking cars up behind them. I've yet to see this on an autoroute in France or an autostrada in Italy and I wonder what accounts for the difference?
 
May 13th, 2002, 11:54 AM
  #44  
pass
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Capo: "I wonder what accounts for the difference?"
Maybe the fact that in most (if not all) European countries it is against the law to pass on the right. If I'm not mistaken, in the US one can legally pass someone in the right lane as well, so if you've really had it with one of those "enforcers", you just go. The same enforcer in Europe will be tailgated right into the bushes because there's no choice.
 
May 13th, 2002, 12:01 PM
  #45  
Capo
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Thanks, pass. I may be mistaken, but I thought it IS illegal to pass on the right in most, if not all, states in the U.S.

Interestingly, in Washington State, one is NOT legally entitled to drive in the passing lane even if one is doing the speed limit, something so many people appear to assume. One is entitled to drive in the passing lane only when: passing, entering the lane from an on-ramp, or exiting to an off-ramp (the freeway in Seattle has numerous left-lane entries & exits...very poor design.)

I think part of the reason for the difference is that Europeans are more willing to work together on the freeways, in order to achieve a smooth flow of traffic. A sense of "traffic community", if you will. Perhaps what happens with us Americans is our individualism; we feel we should have the right to drive however we please even if it wreaks havoc with the overall flow of traffic.
 
May 13th, 2002, 12:47 PM
  #46  
mpprh
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Hi

I live fairly close to Italy and visit several times each year.

The main autopista pista driving is a bit like LA. Except out of the cities it is faster, but more disciplined.

In city centres there is a lot of local knowledge ( do we really need to stop at this red light etc. )

But out of city rush hours driving in Italian cities is no problem.

Peter



 
May 13th, 2002, 01:07 PM
  #47  
pass
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Capo: "I wonder what accounts for the difference?"
Maybe the fact that in most (if not all) European countries it is against the law to pass on the right. If I'm not mistaken, in the US one can legally pass someone in the right lane as well, so if you've really had it with one of those "enforcers", you just go. The same enforcer in Europe will be tailgated right into the bushes because there's no choice.
 
May 13th, 2002, 01:21 PM
  #48  
Susan
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I loved driving in Italy, no problems. It was great to drive all over Tuscany, down narrow roads that led to little treasures. Got so use to seeing strata deformata signs, that now whenever my traveling partner and I want to remember the trip all one of has to say is strata deformata. The Autostrata was great--I have a lead foot and thoroughly enjoyed myself even in a small Fiat. Could only dream of what it would be like to drive my BMW on it!! I live in San Francisco and routinely drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur, so maybe I have been acclimated to winding roads, but driving in Italy didn't seem at all scary.
 
May 13th, 2002, 02:14 PM
  #49  
pass
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Sorry I posted twice by mistake.
Capo: in Florida, for instance, passing on the right is legal when there are two or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. So it is common practice on I-95 and other highways. When I moved there from Europe many years ago, I stuck to my European principle "right lane, except when passing", with blinkers and all. But after a couple of months, I gave up and started passing both left and right, and sticking to just any lane I felt comfortable in, like everyone else.

I recently moved back this side. Trust me, it takes only a couple of halogen flashes in your rearview mirror to remind you where your place is, even when you're doing 100 mph.
Thanks for the compliment about our "sense of traffic community, if you will", but I feel the "enforcement" by the Porsches and BMW's has a lot to do with the discipline you (and I) so much enjoy.
 
May 13th, 2002, 02:38 PM
  #50  
sally
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You know...I was really getting excited about the possibility of planning a surpise vacation in Italy for my husband's 60th birthday. Then I read here about driving in Italy. I would HAVE to drive cause I don't think I could stand an escorted bus tour (no offence -just not my style) My husband just barely survived being a passenger in the car while I drove through Scotland - which sounds like a cake-walk comapred to Italy! But trying to operate a standard shift with the wrong hand, on the wrong side of the road with these regular road signs saying "oncoming traffic may be in centre of road"...sure, no problem. But where will I be?...down either side? I've driven in Boston several times. That was actually a snap because the traffic congestion is so awful that I never made it past 40mph, and that was the highway! So, am I crazy to contemplate driving in Italy? It's my husband's 60th, but he's an awesome guy and I really want him here to see 61! He hates getting lost. He hates "adventures"...as in the "I'm not totally sure where I'm going darling, but let's just enjoy the trip" variety. All of you have me seriously spooked. I'm Canadian. We do silly things like stop for stop signs. I feel like I should take a few spins at Indy before I even contemplate Italy. Is there any good news out there? Some of you hinted that it really wasn't THAT bad, but it lacked conviction somehow.
 
May 13th, 2002, 02:56 PM
  #51  
Doug Weller
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I also loved driving in Italy. We did get lost trying NOT to drive in Naples and ended up driving in Naples.

Really fun was when we were on a road with mopeds driving the other direction on both sides of us! Don't ask why, I still don't know.

If someone is coming up fast behind you, let them pass. They may not stop!

Got the autostrada ticket at Milan, put it on the dashboard, opened the window a few miles later, out it went! My explanation must have been pretty funny, as there wasn't any problem in the end. We'd started at the beginning anyway, so just paid what we owed when we got off.

Doug
 
May 13th, 2002, 03:43 PM
  #52  
Susan
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Sally--This thread is about how people LIKED driving in Italy and how much they enjoyed it. I don't know about the other posters, but I believe we were all trying to encourage those of you whom seemed reluctant to drive there. Is it different than driving in the US, yes, but not different bad. Do people drive fairly fast on the autostrada, yes; but my sister who I would never describe as a speed demon, had no problems.
 
May 13th, 2002, 05:25 PM
  #53  
Capo
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Sally, I LOVED driving in Italy and, as long as you're not an overly timid driver, I think you would too. Yes, many of the people there drive fast but, to me, they also drive "heads up" and I'd rather be driving with faster drivers who are aware than slower drivers who are clueless. I have not driven in any countries, like England or Scotland, where driving is the reverse of what I'm used to. That seems more challenging to me than driving in Italy so, if you drove in Scotland, I think you'd do fine in Italy.


Pass, thanks for that info about Florida. I didn't know that passing on the right was legal in any state and I don't *think* it is in Washington state (but I may be wrong.) Your mention of the Porsche and BMW drivers acting as "enforcers" of a different sort, and thereby contributing to traffic flow on European superhighways sounds reasonable to me. But at least people are aware they should move over. Here in the Seattle area, people generally won't budge from the passing lane, even if you honk or flash your lights (two things, which interestingly enough, I believe are illegal, so that doesn't leave many options for drivers stuck behind a slowpoke.)

So anyway, that makes me wonder what would happen if a Seattle-area driver in the passing lane (an immoveable object) met an Italian driver in a Porsche (an unstoppable force)?
 
May 13th, 2002, 07:25 PM
  #54  
Julie
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Sally, definitely do the trip! I drove for the first time in Italy two years ago with three kids in tow and one iffy road map, and I loved it. I agree with the other posters who said that Italian drivers are more aware than US drivers, and that makes it comfortable even when the roads are poorly marked and it's obvious that the other drivers would like to be going twice your speed. Just have a little faith and don't worry. Put it this way: my husband was there on a cycling tour, and I would much rather have him riding on skinny twisty roads with those "crazy" Italian drivers than here in the States any day!

Go, have a wonderful time, and make some fantastic memories with your lucky husband.
 
Jun 4th, 2002, 04:57 AM
  #55  
dean
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topping for Jill
 
Jun 9th, 2002, 10:21 AM
  #56  
dean
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topping for barb
 
Jun 10th, 2002, 08:27 PM
  #57  
Marilyn
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Was anyone else followed all over Italy by "Tailgateman?" You know...there's no one in the rear view mirror, and then 3 seconds later someone (Tailgateman!!)is right on your bumper. We ultimately decided that there must be a correlation between the driving speeds and the amount of espresso consumed. Seriously, driving is absolutely the best way to see Italy outside the large cities. Our worst experience was getting lost at night in Poggibonsi. We simply couldn't find the main highway and kept going in circles with no one around to ask directions. I am embarrassed to say this happened to us more than once...
 
Jul 13th, 2002, 04:13 AM
  #58  
dean
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topping for Kristen
 
Jul 16th, 2002, 12:45 PM
  #59  
attila
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I agree, drive is fun in Italy. They drive fast, don't obey traffic signs, speed limit, traffic rules. You do not know what tailgaiting means before you drove in Italy, but they use to flash at you from a distance, so you have been warned to move over.
My friend tried to pay with Cerit Card at the strada, but the machine took the card and it took a while to find someone to open the machine and get the card back.
I think the mopeds are very pushy, they are constantly buzzing around you like bees.
I got lost in Rome, made a wrong turn, took me a half an hour to get back to the same spot I were, but I've seen so many beautiful things along the way, that at the end we were happy we got lost.
Naples are lot worst than Rome. Better to park- I parked right at the Herculaneum Scavi gate, and right behind the Polizia- then took the train to Naples (Circumvesuviana).
Don't be afread to drve the Amalfi Coast. I took the bus -the drivers are amazing- but I regret that. It could be more fun to drive that road. We listened to people on this topic who told scarry stories about the coast drive. It is not true. The drive is very safe, but make sure if your car has standard gare, you know how to use it.
 
Jul 17th, 2002, 06:11 AM
  #60  
Alice Twain
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A few comments from a non driver.

The usage of lights on the autostrada

As fast as you may drive, if you see someone that from a verly /very, very very) long way behind you flashes a few times his headlights, just move to the slowest lane: he will be right behind you in the next 35 seconds and, in case you haven't moved to the slow lane, he will move to the slow lane at top speed and pass on you right!

Be aware of some plates

In the old days, Italian plates used to show the province from which the car came. Now the province is still there, but it is much smaller and written in blue. The plates to avoid are Como (CO), Cuneo (CN), Ferrara (FE), Siena (SI). 90% of these drivers are granted to be poor and slow drivers. Also be aware of old man driving with their hat on and of mothers with children and shoppers in the back seat.

Driving in Tuscany

They are known to drive at 2 mph and in the very center of the road. Tuscany is the only area of Italy where I can drive: I do not have a driving licence, but you do not need it for driving in Tuscany!
 

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