The weather here has been, changeable, I think the word is. The temperature has ranged from 20 degrees last weekend to -1 degree this morning. We have had sunshine, showers, snow, hail, clouds and blue skies.
I have been to Ancona airport twice this week, once on Monday to drop off and once on Wednesday to pick up. It’s a three-hour round trip, but I don’t mind because it gives me the opportunity to think up lots of writing ideas during the phase of the journey when I’m alone in the car, or to listen to a CD or radio programme of my choice, although most Italian radio is hard to follow. A ‘listening book’ is always a good option.
Anyway, on my way back on the Monday, I had to negotiate a massive hailstorm, it was so bad that even the Italian drivers slowed down and put on their hazard warning lights. For those of you who are not au fait with Italian drivers, they always drive very fast on all types of roads and road surfaces and in all kinds of weather conditions. They overtake on bends; they drive in the centre or the wrong side of the road, so that it is common to meet a car hurtling towards you on your side of the road just after you go round a corner or even on the straight! They are always on their mobile phones, they have children sitting on their laps on the front seats, flash their lights when they are ‘coming though’ and not intending to stop. They drive only a metre’s length behind your boot on the motorway, tailgating until you move over, which, by the way, you are expected to do immediately even if you are half way through passing a lorry! They also have a colossal number of hand gestures, which are often self-explanatory! Mind you, I have learnt a few of those myself…..
Then there is PARKING…well….I’m not sure I have the vocabulary at my command to express my true feelings about Italian parking! I have no idea why they bother with parking bays, because they are completely ignored. Double parking is totally accepted, especially while the guilty person enjoys his cup of coffee and croissant, reads the paper and leisurely passes the time of day with the patron of the bar! Parking on the pavement, parking right in front of the supermarket door, parking across two bays, parking in the middle of the road, parking very close so that you have to squeeze yourself flat to get back into your car which, by the way, you had left parked with ample space for others each side.
Having mentioned the high speeds at which the Italians drive I should also point out the other end of the scale which involves drivers who go extremely slowly, less than 20k an hour. These drivers are often elderly and do not have mobile phones but, they are always deep in conversation with their passenger, engaging with them eye to eye and not watching the road. They are usually driving an ancient Fiat Punto 4×4 with thin wheels. We have wondered if these little cars are given out by the Government for retired people over 85 and speculate what the criteria might be to qualify.
Feel free to share your Italian driving and parking experiences with me!