Italian Driver’s License – Part 3


Italian Driver’s License – Part 3

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

From my last post on the complex subject of obtaining an Italian driver’s license (click here to see that one) I noted that I was scheduled to take the test on the theory on October 1st. So I passed with only one error out of 40 questions (4 are allowed). So I felt pretty good about that and proceeded to the next part, the actual driving instruction. Six hours of instruction at a driving instruction are required by law. I pretty much scoffed at this and imagined that after the first day perhaps we could stop somewhere for coffee and a chat but I have definitely changed my mind.

Paolo, my instructor, is perhaps a little severe but I have come to think that it’s really good that he is. It’s kind of like boot camp to get me in shape to pass the actual exam. Since I’ve now been driving for 57 years I believe that I’m a good and careful driver. There are, however some significant differences between the rules of the road in Italy and those in the U.S. The major one is that many intersections, especially in cities are not controlled by any kind of signage. I had first really noticed this in Monopoli, a little town in Puglia south of Bari. No stop signs, yield signs or stoplights so what do you do? I really was confused and generally would give the right of way to anyone near the intersection. The rule is that if there is a car approaching the intersection on your right, they always have the right of way. It still drives me a little crazy when I’m riding with Laura in Torino where these uncontrolled intersections are everywhere except on really major streets. So that definitely takes a bit of getting used to. The other thing which is very common but actually very easy are the traffic circles of which we have very few in the U.S. The rule there is that basically once you’re in the traffic circle you have the right of way. Of course to enter to the traffic circle you need to give the right of way to those already there. It’s actually a much safer form of intersection since you don’t cross paths with other vehicles.

A monster traffic circle in Bologna which I have traversed many times

So anyway, Paolo is breaking me of any bad habits and especially is drilling me on what I always must do to pass the driving test – even though his constant nagging drives me a bit crazy at times. So now I’m scheduled to take the driving exam on November 22. I expect to pass and will become a little bit more Italian.

As long as we’re on the subject of traffic I recently revisited the Museum of Automobiles in Torino. The museum is fantastic and I really recommend it but I really liked the display of real and tongue in cheek traffic signs. Suggest your own ideas for captions.

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