Monday, April 12, 2010

Driving in Other Places

Recently someone I know from the Internet was sent to the NATO Defense College, in Rome.  He had to go to see a physician and asked an Italian classmate to take him—the friend being an Italian fighter pilot.  They went by motorcycle and it was an interesting experience, which reminded me of a paper that a couple of Brits wrote while living in Naples, "Sex and the Italian Driver."  I mentioned this and a third party found it on line—soon everything will be on line.

This paper, from about 1977, can be found here.

Minus the sketches and with the location shifted from Naples to Rome (and a typo where chasm is spelled spasm) it is the very one. The reason for Chasm is that back in about 1976 the Domitiana, the road Paul walked from Pozzuoli (home of Sophia Loren) to Rome 2000 years ago (and not much improved since), had a deep hole open one day. It was in front of Michangelo's Pizza Parlor, the best pizza place in the world at the time. It seems that water running underground had leached out the earth on its way to the Med and there was a several hundred foot hole that opened in a rain storm. My wife actually came up on a stopped Italian Driver before the hole and whipped around him and saw that there was a hole in the lane toward Naples. When she came back from Naples the road was closed and stayed closed for months. People were diverted and some enterprising folks took it as an opportunity to rob some American wives on these more remote roads, until the police stepped in.

The best part of driving in Naples was "Chicken Corner.   This is where the Domitiana came up the hill out of Naples and carrying traffic from the NATO AFSOUTH Headquarters and turned left to go north to Rome or crested and went down hill to the US Naval Support Activity.  The fourth option was down hill to the right, toward a hotel.  No traffic control devices.  You came up the hill and backed off on the gas, but only a small fraction of a second and then gunned it. An American wife driving a station wagon could be stuck there for several minutes, since everyone else thought they could bluff her and were willing to try.  I know it sounds sexist, but remember, it is all about one's manhood, or at least it was in the day—before they put in traffic control devices and made it a wretched intersection.  On the other hand, I don't think anyone ever bluffed out my wife when she was driving the Morgan Plus 4.

Regards  —  Cliff

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