Drive like an Italian
We rented a car for our recent 3-week trip to Italy and France. I was a bit apprehensive about driving in Europe, especially after watching this humorous web video. But my wife, Victoria, was experienced at driving overseas and confident we could handle it. Like most Americans, I like the freedom of movement that comes with a car and so readily agreed. Then while taking some white-knuckle taxi rides in Rome and walking the streets there, I began to wonder about the decision.
I'm glad I didn't worry myself out of trying my hand at the wheel and did listen to my wife. Driving in Europe was not only a good way to get around, it was a kick. Driving in Italy is like driving on I-95 through Georgia, except everyone has had two cups of expresso before taking to the road. Just view the lanes, speed limit signs and other indicators as mere suggestions, not rules of the road in some traditional sense, and you'll be driving like an Italian. It's a piece of cake, really.
So once we got our hands on the shiny new (only 5 kilometers on it) Alfa Romeo 159 and headed out onto the streets of Rome, it was love at first turning circle. Well almost. The challenge wasn't driving, but navigation through unfamiliar terrain with signs not always as clear and helpful as we would like.
But in Europe as here, travel is about the experience and the adventure. The journey is the thing, not a means to an end. So if we occasionally had to chart a new course to get to a place, then so be it. We rolled with the navigational issues as best we could and mostly got from point A to point B just like we thought we would.
Along the way we were able to venture far from the well-worn tourist routes to visit places that few tourists would ever find. Sometimes this meant fitting the large-for-Europe sports car into some very tight spaces, as we navigated ancient streets built with no thought to a car's width. Always, the rental car fit with our goal of being visitors rather than tourists and even allowed us to be taken as Italians by Italians on occasion. But more on that later.
This is where I should justify writing this with some nifty Gospel tie in. The problem is that "When in Romans, do as the Romans do" is more anti-Gospel than it is Gospel. Instead, I'll just say that even a priest can enjoy zipping along a winding Italian road sometimes doing well over what would be the posted speed limit in America. Maybe this isn't exactly teaching I'm doing at the moment. Perhaps this blog post is a confession.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
as we dropped off our belongings in Todi, Italy