Oh my god…I have gone back to my high school days. A backpack has taken the place of my purse. I take trains and buses to school with all the students, and then, I am forced to take Italian driving lessons at the highschool frequented Driving school. This probably explains why I haven’t posted lately on food and wine:)
I started my driving lessons in a Citroen 3 with a very animated driving instructor who asked me after the third lesson,
“but are you taking the test? You are? AWWWW I thought you were just brushing up on your driving skills!”. Oh, by the way…don’t buy that P (permit sign) to put on the back of your window, just print out the biggest black P you can on your computer…No one will notice!”
Hmmm… Rather than talking me through driving a stick shift, I would listen to the instructor’s ramblings about about his wife’s cheating friend and had to respond to personal questions in Italian while driving.
After too many lessons, a too much money, it was time to give it a try!
You many be wondering why it would be so hard for a person who has had there license for more than 10 years in the States … but this is chaotic Italy…and those ROTONDAS are frightening! If I aggressively went for it, a car would fly through at high speeds, causing me to slam on the brakes and be yelled at to, ” GO SLOW!”.  However, if I came up too hesitant, because of my lack of judgement of these frenetic cars with no indicating signals, he would yell, “GO GO GO! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?”. These rotondas are like a skilled and strategic guessing game. I don’t think I will ever get used to these things!
Just two days before the test as it was down pouring and all of Italy was flooding, I kept being yelled at to once again, to “GO GO GO”. “But I couldn’t see diddley squat with all those reflections through the rain-covered windshield. Next thing you know I am whip-lashed forward as the boss had to use his emergency brake pedals to save a darting out pedestrian from getting killed. I turn my head only to see a high school girl smirking at me from the sidewalk. Yes, I am that girl who stalled the car because the instructor had to take control.

Then, I got so nervous that I couldn’t even follow simple right and left directions from the instructor. They called for an extra urgent emergency lesson the hour right before the exam the next day. How was I supposed to feel calm during all this? I took advantage though, of my oldest high school class to ask them for advice that day! They reassured me that they didn’t even look at you when you drive and they hardly make you do anything and just told me to “stai tranquilla!”.  I mean you drive for a maximum of 5 minutes. Seriously?
So I go to the driving school, ashamed at myself for being so nervous, did a decent drive and got dropped off in a parking lot where other high school kids were waiting. The Boss left us with the other instructor and told us to wait there. He would be right back after eating his panino…
The other instructor left with us started to review how to turn into the train station. My blank and confused stare must have been enough to transmit that i had NO FREAKING IDEA WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT! Then I recognize Claudio drive by who was unsuccessfully spying on me! We only had 10 minutes till the examiner was coming. But the instructor had no fear, jumped in the passenger seat, grabbed hold of my wheel and controlled the pedals on his side all while smoking his cigarette. He runs stop signs and hurries over to the train station where of course we get caught in traffic. He is cursing that he will get fired if his boss comes back! More freaking out!

Phewww… back just in time. I was first. The examiner sat behind me with a clipboard and the boss sat next to me. The boss who is generally very quiet, starts turning his head and talking the examiner’s ear off as I start. As I am concentrating on my every move, I realize that they really aren’t looking at me at all! I got lucky and didn’t have to do the uphill stop. But then…the dreaded roundabout.  I reach the crazy rotonda and I start hearing his words in my mind, “GO GO GO … or is it… SLOW SLOW SLOW? in my mind and decide on SLOW.All of a sudden, I feel the pedals automatically go down under my feet and hear the engine rev nervously VROOM VROOM VROOM… was this the code signal from the boss next to me that I had to go?They keep chatting turning a blind eye. Finally I do it and head for the second roundabout. This time I see a “vigile” a type of traffic police out in the middle of the road! Is he really going to stop me on this busy road with SCUOLA GUIDA clearly written on the front hood? I start remembering my class’s advice…“STAI TRANQUILLA”… so I put on my blinker and passed him! They laughed and all was good. Then I stop at the first rotonda and the VROOM VROOM VROOM scene repeats itself. I make it back, stop the car and wait in silence all in a total of about 5 minutes.


“Sign here”, they told me. Was this because I passed or failed? As soon as I got out of the car they handed me the already made little license with no smile, congratulation or confirmation. I, however, felt like jumping for joy! Finally after 7 years of being without a car!
We get back to the office, me with my fellow 14 year-old test takers, and they finally give us the official stuff. Claudio is waiting anxiously outside like a parent as I pop my head out to give him a thumbs up!
Oh…one last thing. We asked what the special rules for new drivers were again.
1: Zero tolerance for three years.
2: lower speed limits and…
3: your car has to be less than 70 KW? WHAT?! What does that even mean? Is our mini Euro car under 70?
My jumping for joy came to a cease as I realized that it was all too good to be true. After two years of studying and trying, I now have to wait another YEAR because our car is TOO powerful. If I have made it seven years on foot, I can make it 8…:(


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