Learning to drive again…………… Italian Style!
This week I went back to the classroom. Not to do some incredible art and design course, or to brush up on my Italian. Not even to do a delicious gourmet Italian cooking class! No, I went back to the classroom to learn about Italian road rules! I went back to driving school!
Unfortunately, as Australia is not part of the European Union, I cannot just get my Australian license converted. I must sit a theory and practical exam to get my driving license here in Italy . I have one year from when I changed my residency in which to get my Italian license so I am still within the law driving with my Australian one. Trust me to have left it to the last minute though! Probably the fact that us Australians drive on the left side of the road doesn’t help my case either but I feel so frustrated that even with twenty plus years of driving experience under my belt, including driving the car and scooter here since I arrived, I must sit an exam. And I must pass the theory part before they will even let me sit the practical driving test.
So last week I trudged off to the ‘Coli Scuola Guida‘ to sit in a classroom on a very uncomfortable plastic chair that brought back memories of sweating through the Aussie summer in the un-air-conditioned portable classrooms of high school. These chairs also had the little half desk attached to them which made me feel quite uncomfortable considering my rapidly expanding, pregnant belly. I thought that I would be the oldest person in a room full of teenagers but surprisingly there were more foreigners in the room than youngsters. Two people from Peru, two from Senegal and two young Italian girls.
Going to these classes is not obligatory but I chose to to the school as they explain everything much clearer and are there to answer questions along the way. You can just go to the motorizzazione for the exam having studied yourself but after a look at some examples of the test, I decided it was worth paying the extra money and hopefully pass on the first go. The exam questions are all set out to trip you up so even though I am fairly confident about the road rules, reading this ambiguous questions in another language just makes it all the more difficult. I had better soak in as much as I can though because if I don’t get my license by the time this baby pops out, who knows when I will ever find the time afterwards!
During my first two classes, I did have to laugh out loud at a few of the rules. You realize pretty quickly when driving here that the Italians do not follow the road rules at all! It is definitely a jungle out there! Yesterday I counted sixteen cars that went past me at the pedestrian crossing before a car finally stopped to let me cross! Italians do the complete opposite of what I am learning is the actual road law in this country! So maybe I just need to remember that when sitting the exam! What would an Italian do? And then tick the opposite box!
I don’t have to learn just the road rules either! My last lesson covered all the different vehicle classifications, how many cylinders each one has and the speed limitations for each one on the road. Half the lesson is spent learning the material and then the next half is spent reading questions and answers. One by one, we must each read a question from the quiz aloud and also give the true or false answer. Quite humiliating when you don’t even understand the question, let alone know the answer! My Italian vocabulary is expanding as I learn new words each time I open up the text book but I would rather be dedicating my time to something more interesting – like my blog for example! At this stage I haven’t booked a date for the exam as I thought it best that I get a few weeks study under my belt first. Classes are held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evening and I’ll be going to as many as possible for the next month at least! Let’s just hope I pass on my first attempt………
It’s times like this I wish I had a photographic memory!
The photo above is of Emiliano’s license (patente di guida). They don’t make them like this here anymore but amazingly this is still valid. The old stamps (bolli) on the left were the tax paid each year to keep the license current.