Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Driving in Italy

This is Pruno - one of my favourite hill-top villages in the Alpi Apuane and it’s about twenty minutes drive from Pietrasanta. The driving here is not for the faint-hearted, though you do get used to it. Italy has one of the highest death rates in Europe, due to a combination of speed, bad driving, and a lot of machismo. We’ve witnessed some unbelievable behaviour since we’ve been here. And it doesn’t help that the roads are not as well maintained as elsewhere in Europe. Italy has a large network of tiny mountain roads and it struggles to keep them up to scratch - this one is typical of Tuscany. They were never built for motorised traffic and are only wide enough for a small car, with steep gradients and right angle bends you negotiate with your front bumper among the flower pots and your wing mirrors scraping the corner of someone’s house!











It’s wise to hoot very loudly before beginning the ascent/descent because there’s nowhere to go if you meet another driver. The metal safety barriers are a recent innovation. Locals tell hair-raising stories of coming back from the bar late at night in winter and being found next morning hanging from a branch, completely sober but minus a vehicle.

Tourists aren’t expected to tackle the chicanes. They can leave their cars in the car park and walk the last few yards. When we first started coming to Italy we came across blurb which read ‘We will collect your luggage with the Ape’ which produced much hilarity. This useful animal is pronounced ‘Apay’ in Italian and isn’t a gorilla, but a narrow vehicle constructed around a motor bike frame like this.

There are no easy options in this part of Tuscany, but the tranquility of the mountains and the views are worth any amount of effort to get up here.

2 comments:

  1. Olive oil, scenery to die for.

    You must be a very wicked person to tempt us so.

    I have not been to Italy but with every post you make me want to go more.

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  2. It is a really beautiful country - but then so is Australia. They're just different! Thanks to the internet we can all cyber-travel.
    Kathleen

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