Italian Driver’s License – the final chapter

Italian Driver’s License – the final chapter

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

If you’ve been reading my blog you already know what a struggle it is to get an Italian license to drive. From the truly absurd test for theory to the incredible cost. Now I have an updated cost. I thought that the total would be about 700 euros. However I took an additional two lessons with Paolo so that added another 70 euros (I thought of it as insurance). Then it turns out the fees for the tests of theory and driving (125 euros each) also have IVA tax added. IVA is the Italian acronym for the Value Added Tax. It’s essentially a sales tax that varies somewhat (less for food for example) but for possibly most items it is 22 percent. Holy mackerel! With a lot of items it is included in the quoted price so it’s not really too noticeable but for two exams it comes to 55 euros. So the grand total comes to about 825 euros or about $908 at current exchange rates. All so that I can rent a car or use car sharing in Italy. I hope that it’s worth it all. Aside from that I’m really ecstatic that I met the significant challenge of getting the license. It was kind of my all consuming hobby for the the last 4 months but finally you can see the result below.

La mia patente italiana (my Italian driver’s license)

A last note about my Paolo, my driving instructor. I learned that he has been an instructor for about 40 years. I must say that I profoundly disagree with his methods which mostly consist of constant criticism. Only in the last two “extra” lessons did we have a bit of a heart to heart talk and he was more clear in giving me actual instruction. This was especially important for parallel parking and parking in reverse at right angles to the street. He gave me for the first time clear instructions for the methods he advised and they worked like a charm. So if anyone reading this wants to get an Italian license I advise spending the part of the very first lesson establishing clear ground rules of clear instruction rather than implied instruction via criticism. I know that in some sense he was trying to break some of my driving habits but it would be much more effective and less nerve wracking had he used a different method but I will not try to break his ineffective instruction habits. In any case in the last couple of days we could laugh together and kid each other a bit.


Being an optimist I made reservations for Laura and I for dinner to celebrate getting the license. We went to a place that I would highly recommend. A great environment, excellent food and wine, attentive service and moderate prices. It’s Osteria Santa Caterina and you can learn more about it by clicking here. The web site is in Italian but they also speak English and have menus in English. As soon as I opened my mouth the waiter switched to english and I had to explain that Laura doesn’t speak english and they brought the Italian menus.

A glimpse of the osteria and, of course, Laura.

I always appreciate comments so let me know if you’ve liked my series on the Italian license quest.

6 Responses to “Italian Driver’s License – the final chapter”

  1. Cynthia Salamy Says:

    Congratulations on your perserverence, Joe! After all that, I think it’s plain to see that you have to make the move to Bologna, permanent…which you may have already decided to do.
    I enjoy reading your blogs. It’s been interesting to hear about the differences and challenges you’ve had since you’ve moved there. You’ve had to jump through hoops, deal with misinformation and now lay out a big chunk of pocket change. Again, just speaks to your perserverence. BTW, how long have you been in Bologna? Seems like it’s almost a year now.
    I still plan on visiting and hope it’s sooner rather than later.

  2. Joe Says:

    Hi Cynthia,

    Yes, I decided a few months ago that I could not imagine returning to the U.S. I really like it here and also have a great girl friend. Doesn’t it seem strange to refer to a companion 70 years of age as a “girl”. So we refer to each other as compagna o campagno (feminine and masculine). Makes more sense. In any case I have been here now for 16 months. Next year I sell my house as soon as the renters leave. I’ll be severing most if not all of the ties to the states. I will continue to vote by absentee ballot and pay U.S. taxes but that’s it.


  3. Joy O'Neal Says:

    You are a very entertaining writer and I really enjoyed reading about all of the perils and exorbitant costs of getting an Italian drivers license. Congratulations on your determination and ability to move forward against great odds to reach the pinnacle.

    Your photo looks as sketchy as mine does…..although, I look somewhat more deranged.

    How difficult is license renewal? I was delighted to learn that I could renew mine online this time! Enjoy your adventures! Love, Joy

  4. Joe Says:

    Hi Joy,

    Thanks for the the compliment. It really was a challenge and I really have great satisfaction that I managed to do it. I unfortunately have the same photo on all of my documents, permesso di soggiorno, carte d’identita and now the patente. Someone said (actually an Italian friend) said that I looked like an escapee from Alcatraz.

    I think that the renewal is not really difficult but probably costs more than is reasonable. Between 70 and 80 years of age you need to renew every 3 year. From 80 to 90 every 2 years. I found that these facts were questions for the theory exam. I also know a lot of other rather irrelevant fact from the exam for theory.

    So when are you going to come visit me in Italy?


  5. Cynthia Salamy Says:

    Joe, it doesn’t surprise me that you’ve decided to make the move permanent. I actually thought that, when I saw you before you took off to Italy. Glad you’re happy and thriving. Please touch base when you’re back here, for one last aperitivo stateside!

  6. Joe Says:

    Thanks for the comment Cynthia. I’ll be back probably late August of next year for less than two weeks to get things in motion for selling the house so I’d definitely like to get together. After that I have doubts that I’ll ever be in California again unless I come there with Laura as tourists.


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