Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007-2013. Please give credit where credit is due.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

A licence to ... drive in Italy

Four degrees at 9am. Overcast. Everything is grey, from the nearby trees to the lake and the foothills beyond.

If you think the title of this post sounds like a new year’s resolution, you’re right. But it's not this year’s. And not last year’s, but (it's painful to calculate this) the new year resolution from 1992...

I won’t bore you with the reasons why I’m one of those social misfits who don’t have a driving licence, or, indeed, with the chequered history of my trying to acquire one. Suffice it to say that in the UK I paid for many, many hours of driving instruction. I also paid for several sadistic driving examiners to ride with me, all of whom declined to give me my licence.

I blame my lack of a licence on lack of practice. There was only ever one person brave enough to accompany me while practising. Unhappily, he was brave enough to do it only once.

So here I am in Italy with two small children, prone as all children are to getting worryingly sick sometimes. A&E is 30 minutes away and the emergency doctor service was recently found to be unreassuringly unenthusiastic about the walk up the hill in the middle of the night while my son sat on the kitchen table turning blue. I imagine the children will also in time become prone to swimming lessons, meeting up with friends, and wanting to go clothes shopping on a large scale, and will at some point shun our little Carmine beach for the more glamorous lido at Cannero Riviera (and perhaps if I ever get my figure back, I’ll go with them).

In the past I’ve liked to think of not having held a driving licence for the last (gulp) 27 years as doing my bit to alleviate pollution. But now it’s my turn. I need that licence. And if you do too, the place to start is at the nearest driving school. You will need :

* Codice fiscale (like a National Insurance or Social Security number)
* Identity card or passport
* Permesso di soggiorno per stranieri (from the local police headquarters/questura) or, if you’re from the EU, a certificate from your Comune in Italy that you don’t need a permesso di soggiorno (don't get me started on how difficult it is to get your hands on either of these)
* A medical certificate (the driving school will probably arrange this)
* A marca da bollo, or stamp (as in stamp duty) for €14.62 (from some tobacconists)
* More passport photos (fototessera) than you ever thought possible.

Oh, and loads and loads of money – at first count about €600 to be paid in bits and pieces. But I’m sure the final count will approximate the cost of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Waiting for the designated medic to turn up and certify me sane (hah!) so that I can start learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road while at the same time repressing the very English urge to stop at pedestrian crossings and give way at roundabouts, I've started theory lessons. In some of the bigger cities I understand you can do all this in English (how crass, she thinks, wistfully), but out here in the Styx it's Italian or nothing. The only concession to linguistic inability (in my case on a major scale) is that you can opt to do the theory part of the test orally.

And if I don’t stop talking about it and start learning how to say ‘U-turns are prohibited on level crossings with half barriers when the lights are flashing’ in perfect Italian with appropriate hand gestures, the licence will not only cost the equivalent of the Olympic Games, it will also be 2012 before I take the test.




Read what happened next...
Learning to drive in Italy : No. 2
Learning to drive : denouement
Learning to drive : epilogue

Home



Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007, 2008. All rights reserved. Please ask first.

7 comments:

Vanessa said...

Hilarious! How did I miss reading this post?

Bella@That damn expat said...

At my psych evaluation the doctor sat me down, told me to extend my arms, flip them palm side up, and that was it.

I still don't know what the hell that was about.

Karabeth said...

This was great, Louise. Thanks for sharing it with us on BATW. (And I thought getting a driver's license in the USA was "fun.")

Joy said...

Visiting from BATW & heading over to the next installment! :o)

Roblynn and Rebekah said...

Your drivers license quest sounds very familiar to ours here in Costa Rica. You give me the courage to think about getting my Costa Rica license. Busses and Taxis are just soooooo much easier. The Ticos also drive very similar to Italians!

Loren Christie said...

Great story! I failed my road test three times in the U.S. My driving instructor, who was missing a thumb, was afraid to take me on the highway despite the fact that he had control of the breaks.:) You're not alone!

shellee said...

Its always interesting to me, how everyday events vary from one country to the next. I love learning about life in different parts of the world. Thanks for sharing, Louise.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

A licence to ... drive in Italy

Four degrees at 9am. Overcast. Everything is grey, from the nearby trees to the lake and the foothills beyond.

If you think the title of this post sounds like a new year’s resolution, you’re right. But it's not this year’s. And not last year’s, but (it's painful to calculate this) the new year resolution from 1992...

I won’t bore you with the reasons why I’m one of those social misfits who don’t have a driving licence, or, indeed, with the chequered history of my trying to acquire one. Suffice it to say that in the UK I paid for many, many hours of driving instruction. I also paid for several sadistic driving examiners to ride with me, all of whom declined to give me my licence.

I blame my lack of a licence on lack of practice. There was only ever one person brave enough to accompany me while practising. Unhappily, he was brave enough to do it only once.

So here I am in Italy with two small children, prone as all children are to getting worryingly sick sometimes. A&E is 30 minutes away and the emergency doctor service was recently found to be unreassuringly unenthusiastic about the walk up the hill in the middle of the night while my son sat on the kitchen table turning blue. I imagine the children will also in time become prone to swimming lessons, meeting up with friends, and wanting to go clothes shopping on a large scale, and will at some point shun our little Carmine beach for the more glamorous lido at Cannero Riviera (and perhaps if I ever get my figure back, I’ll go with them).

In the past I’ve liked to think of not having held a driving licence for the last (gulp) 27 years as doing my bit to alleviate pollution. But now it’s my turn. I need that licence. And if you do too, the place to start is at the nearest driving school. You will need :

* Codice fiscale (like a National Insurance or Social Security number)
* Identity card or passport
* Permesso di soggiorno per stranieri (from the local police headquarters/questura) or, if you’re from the EU, a certificate from your Comune in Italy that you don’t need a permesso di soggiorno (don't get me started on how difficult it is to get your hands on either of these)
* A medical certificate (the driving school will probably arrange this)
* A marca da bollo, or stamp (as in stamp duty) for €14.62 (from some tobacconists)
* More passport photos (fototessera) than you ever thought possible.

Oh, and loads and loads of money – at first count about €600 to be paid in bits and pieces. But I’m sure the final count will approximate the cost of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Waiting for the designated medic to turn up and certify me sane (hah!) so that I can start learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road while at the same time repressing the very English urge to stop at pedestrian crossings and give way at roundabouts, I've started theory lessons. In some of the bigger cities I understand you can do all this in English (how crass, she thinks, wistfully), but out here in the Styx it's Italian or nothing. The only concession to linguistic inability (in my case on a major scale) is that you can opt to do the theory part of the test orally.

And if I don’t stop talking about it and start learning how to say ‘U-turns are prohibited on level crossings with half barriers when the lights are flashing’ in perfect Italian with appropriate hand gestures, the licence will not only cost the equivalent of the Olympic Games, it will also be 2012 before I take the test.




Read what happened next...
Learning to drive in Italy : No. 2
Learning to drive : denouement
Learning to drive : epilogue

Home



Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007, 2008. All rights reserved. Please ask first.

7 comments:

Vanessa said...

Hilarious! How did I miss reading this post?

Bella@That damn expat said...

At my psych evaluation the doctor sat me down, told me to extend my arms, flip them palm side up, and that was it.

I still don't know what the hell that was about.

Karabeth said...

This was great, Louise. Thanks for sharing it with us on BATW. (And I thought getting a driver's license in the USA was "fun.")

Joy said...

Visiting from BATW & heading over to the next installment! :o)

Roblynn and Rebekah said...

Your drivers license quest sounds very familiar to ours here in Costa Rica. You give me the courage to think about getting my Costa Rica license. Busses and Taxis are just soooooo much easier. The Ticos also drive very similar to Italians!

Loren Christie said...

Great story! I failed my road test three times in the U.S. My driving instructor, who was missing a thumb, was afraid to take me on the highway despite the fact that he had control of the breaks.:) You're not alone!

shellee said...

Its always interesting to me, how everyday events vary from one country to the next. I love learning about life in different parts of the world. Thanks for sharing, Louise.