⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

April 23, 2009

Driving

One more note on Italy:

Italians are crazy drivers. They are notoriously so. Most people know this even if they have never stepped foot in Italy. Southern Italian drivers and Sicilians take it to the next level.

Xavier is also a crazy driver. But watching the Italians he was aghast. He was angry. (Mostly because he wasn't the fastest of all, like he is in the rest of his life). He continually shouted at other cars, with the gleam of admiration in his eyes. He secretly loved what they were capable of doing, and regarded their behavior as an open invitation to do the same. Delighted.

"Quelle bande de bandits!" (What a band of bandits!)

"Malade mental!" (Sick in the head!)

"Mais, qu'est-qu'il fout cet abruti?! Oh non, ce n'est pas possible, ça!" (But what is he doing this moron?! Oh no, this is not possible!)

One example of what Xavier was marveling at was the "third lane" (this is the name we gave it). Most of the roads we drove on were just small, two way roads - one lane in one direction, the other lane in the other. The first time it happened, we were behind a truck, going uphill and wanted to wait to pass until we had reached the crest of the hill. A car approached from behind and clearly had no intention of waiting for anything. He overtook us, all the other cars around us and the truck straight away. We watched the other cars as he did this: they all cowered to the shoulder, as far over as possible. And then there was an oncoming car who caught sight of the crazy one just as he was coming up over the hill. Immediately, the oncoming driver tugged on his wheel and rode as far over on his shoulder as possible. In this way, the third lane was created - the sea of cars parted and the crazy one sailed through the middle. Xavier was entranced. The reaction of the drivers around us was apparently no big deal, rather instinctual, it seemed.

The third lane. Recently, Berlusconi informed Italians that the use of the third lane is not safe. I don't think his concern for public safety was taken very seriously.

For the rest of the trip when Xavier drove, he employed the third lane technique as much as possible. Oncoming traffic would move to the left and the cars in front of us would move to the right magically. But the rule of driving in Italy still applied: there is always someone faster than you.



This is what it looks like - and yes, there is a whole line of oncoming traffic approaching the 'third lane' vehicle featured here (above).

7 comments:

Laney said...

And I thought my husband was the only one that acted psycho while driving . . . one of his cars had bite marks on the steering wheel I think.

Julie said...

The third lane is a technique employed in southern Africa as well. Botswana and South Africa - but mostly South Africa. Folks would regularly drive 180+ km employing the third lane tactic. There are yearly campaigns about the traffic deaths in SA imploring people to slow down and not use the shoulders. "Arrive Alive" was a big one when I was there.

Laney said...

Just noticed this - is it only in England that they reverse the driver's position and the side of the road you use? I thought it was in Europe in general.

Aralena said...

It's Mr. Wheeler! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZgiVicpZGk

Emilie said...

jude, love it! south africa driving. after you came home, you were insane. hope you've preserved those techniques...

laney, yes - just the brits who drive on the left side...

love the video aralena, the transformed driver. hilarious.

Rosie said...

We called the third lane technique "chicken" when I was a bit younger. Some others called it suicide. But whatever it is called - I am just grateful you are home safe.
(There have been times when I called Brad, Nicky Lauda but you are all too young to know him) Xavier, I think you should resort to model cars! It is much less risky!

Jill said...

I have driven with Xavier and actually lived to tell about it. He has mad skills!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...