Let’s just cut to the chase here; The roads are terrible! And the drivers are just as bad.
I’ve recently taken to the roads myself, in a Fiat 500. How does the saying go? “when in Rome… go native?”
I’ve driven across the USA in a Dodge, driven through France in a Citroen, driven through many countries including Morocco. But Italy is probably the scariest place I’ve ever got behind the wheel.
The Fiat however, is the best car for the job. quick and small. You need a small car because the roads are small.
They are also very bumpy. The roads are a myriad of patchwork, the likes of which you would only expect on your grandmother’s quilt.
Who knew there were so many different kinds of asphalt?
So since being here, a terrible thing happened… It rained. Ever so lightly. But for those two days it was carnage.
In Florence, we witnessed a girl on a vespa, overtake on the inside and smash into a stationary pick-up. The stationary pick-up was, of course, stationary in a lane designed to drive in, not necessarily for parking, but here the difference between these two concepts seems a little elusive. The girl lost the tip of her index finger. An image that haunted me… well for 24 hours until the next image trumped this one.
The second image was that of the overturned red car you can see in the pictures above. Luckily no one was hurt.
On the third day we found the white van (above), whose driver appeared to have forgotten to steer the car, choosing instead just to hit a wall head on. Perhaps he was auditioning for a career as a crash-test dummy?
But the best incident, which wasn’t exactly an incident, was on our journey to visit a nearby castello. This was an extra-curricular activity organised by the parents of the school, where we all get together to visit some of the nearby, somewhat off the beaten track, historic and cultural sights. We all met near the school and took to the roads in a convoy.
The sun was shining and it was quite a blissful experience to feel part of the community and setting off on this little adventure together.
We deliberately took the AutoStrada and headed south towards Siena. So far so smooth.
After about 45 minutes however, whilst on the dual carriage way, we pass a stationary car, ‘parked’ in the outside lane. Is this something we should worry about?
The convoy slows down and we all come to a stop a few yards ahead of said stationary car.
Then the fun begins.
The Reverse lights of the car at the head of the convoy light up. And I notice that they are now rearing towards us, backwards… on a dual carriageway.
He passes the car in front of us and lowers the window, the two drivers exchange some sort of communication, and the then the car proceeds (or recedes) to approach us, again in reverse, on a dual carriageway.
I lower my window.
Apparently there has been some kind of accident ahead (I would never have guessed).
So we all have to reverse back to the last exit.
We all begin to reverse up the dual carriage way. All of us, 20 cars, reversing up the dual carriageway. New cars approach from behind. But instead of crashing into us, they appear to understand, and they too begin to reverse up the dual carriageway.
Luckily the exit is a mere 500 meters behind us.
We leave the dual carriageway, this time, we’re pointing forwards, and the convoy continues on its way towards the castello.
This is Italy.