Reading Debra Kolkka’s excellent blog and, in particular, her witty comments on Italian driving at http://bagnidilucca.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/starting-early/ I was reminded of an accident which took place near us in Longoio in January 2006 where a car went out of control and landed with its driver head over heels.
Fortunately no-one was seriously hurt but if another vehicle had been involved it would have been a different matter. Driving in Italy is a situation of quick reactions, quicker than any one has been used to in North Europe. Without them one is surely fated. It is also a matter of sly manoeuvres and a strong effort to keep one’s cool.
Having said that, car driving around the Lucca area is actually quite civilized when compared to large metropolises further south. I think that a day’s driving in (say) Naples would train one well for the even greater challenges to be faced when negotiating the streets of Cairo or Calcutta.
The real driving challenges here come in tackling the mountain roads both for their tortuous itineraries and for their often poor surfaces. No wonder our roads are popular with car rallies during the summer!
The sad fact, however, is that Italy has a proportionally higher rate of accidents and fatalities when compared to other EC countries. For example, on average two pedestrians get killed every day by motorists who don’t stop at a red light or pedestrian crossing. These statistics are also reflected in the fact that Italy has the highest car insurance rates in Europe, meaning the majority of drivers avoid fully-comp because they just can’t afford it.
At the entrance to nearby Ghivizzano is a plaque in memory of a dog. The translation reads:
Motorist passing by remember: there are also big-hearted dogs like Spepi
I need to find out the reason for this plaque. What breed of dog was Spepi? Was Spepi the victim of a road accident (the place where the plaque is situated is a blind corner) or did he narrowly avoid being one? Or is the plaque just a warning to drive more slowly because there are dogs around which could be run over (I can’t think of anyway who doesn’t love dogs around here).
The majority of not-too serious car V car arguments are settled here without the intervention of either police or insurance companies. It’s much cheaper that way and does not increase one’s insurance premiums. In 2009 I inadvertently bumped into the back of a car which belonged to the Chief of Police of a nearby town. Fortunately the damage was cosmetic and we settled the affair amicably – without recourse to the police!