Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Speaking of high speeds...

In my last post, I wrote about the Bora reaching speeds of 93 miles (140 km) per hour. If you want to know what that feels like, all you have to do is venture out onto the Italian autostrada.

Here's a photo of our speedometer (I'm not driving, by the way) when we were out on the highway. We had our American car shipped over here, so the big numbers are miles per hour, and the little ones are kilometers per hour. And yes, we're going 85 miles per hour. And we're not speeding.

The speed limit on Italian highways is 130 kilometers per hour, and our measly 85 mph translates to about 136 km per hour. Believe me when I say we were one of the slow pokes traveling in the right-hand lane.

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about Italian drivers is the tailgaters (99% of the Italian driving population). If you were to travel in the left lane going a mere 85 mph, the tailgating ritual would go something like this:

1. Glance in your rearview mirror and see a speck of a car at least a few kilometers away.
2. Wait 3 seconds.
3. Check your rearview mirror again. The speck is now full-sized, barreling toward you and closing in.
4. The driver flashes his lights at you.
5. You now have 1.359 seconds to get over into the right lane.
6. What? Other cars are in the right lane and you can't get over? Shame on you.
7. The driver now moves to within a centimeter of your rear bumper.
8. Gun the engine and race ahead of the other cars in the right lane.
9. Swerve into the right lane. Cutting off another car is completely acceptable.
10. Breathe easy as the tailgater bullets past you going at least 200 km per hour.
11. Pray that he gets a ticket, so you can honk your horn and laugh as he's pulled over by the polizia.

Number 11 on the list is actually a very American's my attitude, in fact. I hate tailgaters. But Italians are nowhere near as offended by them as we are. If my (Italian) husband is driving and someone rides on his tail, he doesn't even make a break in our conversation. He just keeps talking and moves over. No one gives anyone the finger or shakes a fist. The tailgater even looks bored as he whizzes by. Now if you don't move over when you have space in the right lane...that's another story involving lots of gesticulating.

So if you find yourself navigating an Italian highway, stay to the right, keep both hands on the wheel, and remember to breathe. And a few Hail Mary's wouldn't hurt, either.


TinaFerraro said...

Natalie, I have never driven on the autostrada and don't think I ever will. The speeds--and everyone passing all the time. It's too much for me. And good thing you weren't driving when you took that picture! :)

Disco Mermaids said...

I think my husband must be a closet Italian. I think I'll tell him that next time he tailgates!


Natalie said...

Tina--if we ever do meet up over here in Friuli, I'll do the driving when we go to the bar for a cappucino. :-)

Hi Robin--
Ha! He can also try that excuse if he's ever pulled just might work! :-)