Something I appreciate about Italian drivers is that they rarely honk their horns. In America, drivers honk anytime someone is going too slow, or pulls out in front of them, or when they’re stuck in traffic (as if that will do anything), or, well, for just about any reason. In America, there’s the mentality of “Hey, I’m driving here! So get out of my way.” Despite what outsiders perceive as chaos when they navigate the streets of Italy, the traffic is much more fluid. Drivers are very aware of each other. Cars weave in and out of traffic—sometimes seeming to dart out from nowhere—but drivers here go with the flow. They realize this is how things work.
Instead of using their horns, drivers tend to rely on using their flashers. One aspect of the driving culture that is still hard for me to adjust to is speeding on the freeway. We’ll be driving in the left lane, passing a vehicle or two, and a car driving very, very fast will come up behind us, ride our bumper and flash us repeatedly so we’ll change lanes. Sometimes you see them coming up in the rearview so fast, you wonder if they’d plow right into you if you didn’t move over. It’s a little unnerving. But again, people recognize the rules of the road and most people move into the next lane, seemingly unperturbed.
While cars may honk infrequently, there is still quite a bit of noise pollution. The
motorini are extremely loud. Many afternoons Alex will be napping, and one races down our street, waking him up, and probably all the neighbors napping after lunch! I may not miss the motorini when we leave Italy, but it’ll be hard getting used to large trucks and SUVs barreling down city streets again. I love the smaller vehicles here, especially the old Fiat Cinquecentos. There’s something to be said for the narrow streets of Italy: while more and more people are starting to drive SUVs, they have a hard time navigating the tight alleys of Italian towns and cities. I just wish they’d stay out of the centro storico!