Thursday, July 10, 2008

What I WON'T miss about Italy (post #1)

After getting all misty-eyed over the things I'll miss, it's only fair that I show you what I WON'T miss about life in Italy. Take a look at the photo below. Can you figure out what's going on here?

It might be difficult to see behind the reflection on the windshields, but there aren't any drivers in these cars. They're parked. Note the car all the way on the left, and the car behind it. These cars are parked legally, next to the curb. Fine.

Now look at the middle car up front--the Mercedes. That parking position is what Italians call in seconda, which means it's parked in the second parallel position next to the curb. It's illegal, but you probably won't get a ticket as long as you keep your eye on your car, ready to move it at a moment's notice. This parking technique is often used when Italians dash into a bar to get a coffee.

Look closely and you'll see another car behind the Mercedes. If anyone on the inside wants to get out, all they have to do is lean on their horn, and the owner of the cars in seconda will materialize and move their cars. Or the seconda drivers might leave their cell phone numbers scribbled on a piece of paper left on the dashboard for you to call and tell them to get their cars out of the way.

Now enter our car. The blue one all the way on the right. We went to the beach on this day, and there was no spot in sight. Not even in seconda. So my husband invented a place--in terza, I suppose you could call it. It's literally right in the middle of the road. But it's the perfect spot--we're not blocking anyone in, and there's room for other cars to get by. Illegal? Schmillegal.

I must admit, parking in the middle of the road would have never occurred to me. I've parked on sidewalks, mind you, and in the occasional bus lane. But this time, I would have driven right by this prime parking spot, muttering that all the spaces were filled.

While I admire the Italians for their parking prowess, I yearn for the wide spaces in the Target parking lot. I used to lament when the only free space at the mall on the morning of December 24 was all the way at the end, a kilometer away from the nearest entrance. Now? I'll never curse another American parking lot again.


Julie_c said...

Oh man - I don't think the American in me would allow me to park in such a place. My stomach would be twisting and turning all over.

Of course - if you did that over here someone would either key your car or have you towed.

Laurie Woodward said...

How about driving in Italy? Where there are exactly three inches between you and the car next to you. Or that way of passing in the imaginary center lane that only Italians know about. Or the scooters that come out of nowhere.
After driving in Italy the freeways of L.A. looked like a trip on a tricyle around a Kindergarten playground.

Africakid said...

I've enjoyed your posts on what you'll miss (and not miss)in Italy.

Have a good trip to the States, and let us know how your re-entry goes!

We just got back from visiting Oregon, and my 15 year old told me, "I like it better in Germany--no one coming up in the stores and asking 'Can I help you?'" Ha ha--it's all perspective!

Natalie said...

I konw what you mean, Julie. For the first two years, I think I was the only driver in Trieste who actually came to a full stop at stop signs. But I've now been officially corrupted by Italian traffic ettiquette. I'll need to get over that pretty fast.

Yes, Laurie, you're right! The scooters cutting to the front used to bother me, and now I don't even notice, usually. I never got used to the high speed tailgating, though!

Thanks, Africakid. :-) The customer service thing is a bit much at times. But in Italy it's non-existent, so I need to find a country where there's a happy medium. :-)