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Driving, such as it is...again

A previous blog talked about some of the, shall we say, unique driving habits here in Italy. This one is not only about how they drive, but where they drive.

With the mountainous terrain, some of the hardest jobs have got to be road planners, traffic engineers and road builders. Roads often weave around curves dangerously close to the edge of gravity or snake through tunnels. On our travels we have not yet gone on a road that doesn't have one or more or dozens of tunnels.

Some, like the one we passed through on our way from Naples to Sorrento were very long, this one being a bit more than 3 miles. To top it off, we were stuck in it for nearly 45 minutes due to traffic. Thankfully, claustrophobia is not something we have.

To design, engineer and build roads in this terrain must take some extraordinary skills. Looking at the roads, bridges and highways you can see how ingenious they were in getting the roads from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible. Even if it meant more tunnels.

Now for the driving. It's kind of jarring when you're in the van and you see the speed limit sign says 100.Yes, that's kilometers per hour (about 63 MPH), but it's not something we're used to seeing in the U.S. Of course, that was just a suggestion as many vehicles were going well above that.

The other interesting point is the number of scooters and motorcycles in use, and misuse. Everywhere scooters, in particular, seem to be the ubiquitous ode of transportation, though an occasional BMW and even a Harley-Davidson can be seen. Understandable given the size of the roads in that they can travel easier than a car, even the smaller cars of Europe. The road on which our apartment is in Sorrento is one of the main ones leading to a beach and it is constantly busy with hordes scooters from early morning to well into the evening.

A lot of the drivers, however, seem to have a death wish. Riding to the right of a vehicle. Riding down the center lane. Passing on bling curves. Cutting trucks off. Not exactly what the rules of the road should be. An example: When stuck in the tunnel we were passed by dozens of scooters trying to get out ahead of everyone else. At one point, with traffic finally moving, two scooters drove by side-by-side in the center lane cars, and buses, be damned. I guess they made it since we didn't see them again.

Absent, it seems, is any kind of road rage. Horns are used not to signal anger or annoyance with another driver, but to let others on the road know you’re coming past. That’s particularly necessary with very large buses going around very tight and often blind corners. It is, basically, a wise warning sound to the often much smaller cars.

As much as we may complain about driving in the U.S., I’ll stick to driving there.

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