Travelling Hopefully – Handy Tips for Driving in Italy


I came across this fabulous blog whilst looking for info about driving in Italy from Alberobello To Matera in southern Italy – 50 Reasons by Jeanne Castro Schmidt.

It made me smile because it is all absolutely true – Steve and I used to drive a great deal in Italy, more Steve than I but only because he hated being the passenger. We always felt that the Italians had the right idea when it came to these ‘life skills’.

It is your responsibility to get out of oncoming traffics way, not their responsibility to think about your needs!

Good call I say – I only wish I could make myself believe that this is how life should be. Making a decision for me is not just about the ‘do I want it?’ questions – oh no into each little decision comes the ‘what will others think’ what if I make a mistake’ what if, what if, what if!!!! It is so debilitating and tiring and eventually you doubt your ability to make the decision at all.

This came to a head recently when I decided that my tired old Freelander had to make way for a less expensive to run, tax, insure, service, newish car. I took advice from my brothers, decided to buy from a local dealer and started to look for a Seat (no not a seat, a Seat!)

Down to the local Seat dealership, super, had a drive in a Leon and a couple of Ibiza’s. Found a lovely little, less than 1 year old, Ibiza – super cute and speedy – so I bought it!

I know what you are thinking, where does this fit into the angst ridden problem!

Ha ha – well I’ll tell you…I picked it up on the Monday morning, proudly showed it to my brother, picked Em up off the train from work and went for a little drive – smashing.

AND THEN – Tuesday morning I was planning to take my Mum back to our home town to visit relatives so I set off to pick her up and the EPC light came on and the car crawled!!! Less than 24 hours, less than 22 miles and it was BROKEN. Turns out it was the turbo, of course the garage had never seen anything like it, had never heard that such a problem existed – still it was under warranty and was sorted with no cost to myself by Friday (btw it cost SEAT £3,000!!! to correct)

Again where is the angst? – well I’ll tell you – despite it all being under control I spent the next 24 hours furious with myself, why me, why did I buy it, what will people think, trust me to buy a duff car, oh no I have made a mistake and the world is going to judge me – aaaaarrrrrrggggghhhh – on and on and on – even dinner with Em at my favourite restaurant didn’t dim my fury – not at the car, not at the dealership – oh no dear readers the fury was directed at myself and how my decision making was going to be seen and laughed at by the whole world.

So my new days resolution is that I am going to commit to memory these Driving Tips from Italy and try harder not to worry about everyone else, because for sure most of them are not worrying about me.

• When driving on a small road having one lane going in either direction and a white line painted down the centre, do not assume the line is in any way marking the boundaries of each lane. Drive freely on any side of the line you prefer, or simply straddle the line and honk vigorously if anyone gets in your way.

• Be sure to always drive as fast as you possibly can; circular road signs with numbers inside them such as 30, 50, or 80 are not speed limits, but rather the number of sedatives you should ingest prior to entering the roadways.

• Never pass another car on a straightaway. Wait for a blind curve instead. Also, whenever passing, do not worry looking in front of you for oncoming traffic. Look behind you instead so you can dart out suddenly in front of other drivers who are already in process of passing you.

• Don’t worry if the road you are driving on seems to end in a set of stairs. Simply drive up or down the stairs, and honk at any lazy pedestrians who get in your way. Some stairs have convenient concrete ramps build right in


• Paid parking lots are for German tourists. Real Italians use the sidewalks. Pedestrians, on the other hand, use the streets.

• Parking is more of an art than a science


• Stop signs are just suggestions. If you actually do stop at one, prepare to be rear ended.

• Don’t be fooled into thinking that old people will drive conservatively. They can chat and text on their cell phones with the best of the young Italians.

• Signs displaying pictures of cows and wild boars indicate the proximity of the nearest salumeria and should be regarded similarly to stop signs.

And remember – life is not about the final destination, it’s about the journey. And the best journeys do not always travel directly from point A to point B, which is good, because in Italy it not actually possible to travel directly from point A to point B (unless you take the Autostrade, but that is the subject of a whole other blog).

PS – to date not one person has laughed, or judged or deemed me incompetent when they heard the Ibiza story – lessons need to be learned Jo that’s all I am saying!!!

You can read Jo’s other posts Have I Made the Right Decision, Is It Just an Age Thing? and her first post Travelling Hopefully 


1 Comment

  1. Jeanne Castro Schmidt
    3rd May 2013 / 3:04 pm

    Hi Jo, loved to see that you enjoyed my blog about driving in Italy! Looking forward to following your posts! Now, if you happen to get into a car accident while there and have to unfortunately visit the hospital emergency room, please find my other blog, “Lessons Learned”, which will give you some handy pointers about how to be seen quickly!

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