Thursday, September 10, 2009

Driving in Italy

It isn't difficult, driving in Italy.

Well, it hasn't been difficult for me, anyway. I've sat in the back of the Ford Focus Wagon throughout, eating my way through a selection of Italy's best sugar-free sweets, with my comfy little nest - as Silverback described it - consisting of a box of paper tissues, some water, my floppy hat, my camera and rather a lot of sweet wrappers.

From time to time I 've called out helpful things such as "Ooh, look, a tower on a hill!" (this happens a lot in Italy as there are very few tower-free hills) and occasionally "Look, a hotel with a pool woohoo!" Really, Stephen and Silverback could never have managed without me. Sometimes I even offered them a sweet.

Stephen was Driver whilst Silverback ( - I can't do the link on this computer) was Map Master and Navigator - crucial as, where possible, we've taken the scenic route and avoided the autostrada (motorway, interstate etc). And there are lots of stunning scenic routes in Italy.

Stephen had checked all the driving regulations but they are still tricky to follow as often a speed limit is given for a particular set of circumstances - but sadly the signs omit to tell you when the limit no longer applies.

They do have helpful parking signs though, throughout Italy - all legal parking is marked. If it's free, the bays are white. If it's residents only, they're yellow. If it's to pay for, they are blue. And if you shouldn't be parking there at all, they have graphic pictures of a tow truck.

Silverback has, however, had a near-constant struggle with the fourth inhabitant of the car - Sheila, the GPS or satnav as we call it in Britain.

Silverback put a lot of work into planning the routes before we left and this has been brilliantly useful, and Stephen has found his frequent verbal updates - "We're on this road for thirty kilometres" really useful too. However, Sheila has not always been totally co-operative. She has failed to get her act together on many occasions, often saying a confident "Turn right" when the screen says exactly the opposite.

Occasionally, perhaps in a huff as we've been ignoring her, she made a random remark, such as "Toll charge" when there is no such thing. Silverback would say something like "She won't need to chirp at us for another fifty kilometres" and then she decides that a Viareggio housing estate is a point of interest that we really shouldn't miss.

Many a time she's taken us up a picturesque little cobbled street leading exactly nowhere (the Italian for this is "Deado Endo" explained Silverback once, to my amusement). From time to time she tried to take us up a vertical unpaved track. But hey, by and large she was a great help and Silverback made excellent use of her.

Now we're in a motel near Rome airport, prior to flying back to a sunny, hot Yorkshire tomorrow.

Okay, probably not either of those. Cold and rainy is my best guess, though it's hard to imagine from here.

It's been wonderful.


Anonymous ruth said...

It has been sunny and possibly even hot today in Leeds (hard to tell from inside the office where I have been slaving over a computer whilst you luxuriate in your Italian nest). Can't make any promises for sunshine tomorrow. See you all when you get back (including Sheila?!)

8:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad you have had a wonderful Roman adventure :O) Deado Endo - arf!!

9:26 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

...Well it has been hot and sunny today and the forecast for both Friday and Saturday is pleasant, sunny weather. Will you be appearing on "Look North" - interviewed about your Italian adventure by Harry and Christa? I'll lookout for you - after all, they interviewed Sir Ranulph Fiennes so why not you?

10:48 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

You are the yin to Stephen's and Silverback's yang when it comes to travel blogging. Plus, with apologies to Cole Porter or George Gershwin or whoever it was, you're the cream in their coffee, your the lace in their shoe, you will always be their necessity, they'd be lost without you.

4:19 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...


4:20 am  
Blogger Daphne said...

And now I'm back! Thank you all for your comments whilst I've been in Italy, and all your good wishes.

11:54 pm  

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