They say driving in Italy is an adventure.
They say the Amalfi Coast road, with all its curves, impossibly narrow stretches and crazy drivers, is even more of an adventure.
But what those people didn’t say is that learning to drive a manual transmission car for the first time in Italy and on the Amalfi Coast is something more than an adventure. Start by thinking action adventure, set it in a small town, add a few donkeys, tourist buses, and a couple of perplexed old men sitting on a wall, and you will have a mental image of my first driving lesson in Italy.
Sigh. This is going to take awhile. What I found most frustrating is that I could go so quickly from being the person who was a very good driver for eleven years to the person who suddenly felt so helpless behind the wheel. As I struggled to find the right balance between la frizione (the clutch) and the pedale dell’acceleratore (you guessed it!), I couldn’t help but wonder why driving has to be so difficult. But difficult or not, manual transmission cars are the standard here in Italy, and I do intend to be that good driver again. Like I said, it is just going to take awhile. While the parking lot I dream of is nonexistent here, we have found a couple of stretches of road on the way home that are relatively straight (only three or four curves!) and not too steep, so those are my practicing grounds now. I know at the end of this driving adventure I will feel confident driving just about anywhere in the world. For the time being, perhaps I will just stick to the virtual driving on Google Maps!
What are your best driving adventures in Italy?
Are you planning on driving on your next trip to Italy? It is very easy, quick and affordable to get an International Driving Permit from your local AAA or through the mail. I also hear it is possible to rent automatic transmission cars here for those of you that share the same driving disadvantage as me!