I went out driving yesterday morning - nice and early before the traffic started. As a background I should tell you that I got my driving license in Naples a couple of years ago. Whenever I say that I make myself laugh: I GOT MY DRIVING LICENSE IN NAPLES!! You'll understand what I mean only if you've seen the driving here. Lawless is a good word to describe it at times. It was one of the most surreal things I've ever done here. Me and fifteen teenagers doing scuola guida. I felt quite the old lady.
Anyway, since I got my license I've driven very little. I've decided now though that I need to get practicing as there are times when it would be so useful just to be able to take the car and go out myself instead of having to be accompanied. So, yesterday morning we went out for a giro/drive, me in the driving seat. My OH came along as I don't feel ready to brave the Neapolitan traffic alone yet - and he guards the hand brake just in case.
I'm now learning the things which weren't fully covered in scuola guida such as:
1. Be always prepared to be overtaken by any vehicle type on both the left and right - sometimes simultaneously both on the left and right, and if you're lucky in front and behind you'll be passed too.
2. Be always prepared for pedestrians to step out at any moment.
3. Ignore the car beeping behind you, it's normal for all drivers to be very impatient and constantly beeping. I find this one difficult to get my head around so far. If they go into the back of you they'll surely be blamed and not you I'm told. So keep your distance and forget the frantic beeping from all sides. You'll see that few Neapolitans keep their distance, but you must not let that bother you. It sounds a bit of a contradiction, but Neapolitans do drive in a defensive style so they will try to avoid other drivers - I'm hoping this will help me.
4. When you stop at the traffic lights (yes, I do stop at red as I am still learning really and I'm not that napoletana) and the man (usually a man) wants to clean your windscreen, the way to avoid him is to stop about 5-6 metres behind the car in front. This way when the man approaches your car you drive forward so he can't catch you. If he doubles as a tissue seller be careful that he hasn't left a pack of tissues on you car whilst pulling away - I'd feel bad taking them without paying. Make sure also that your windows are closed when you spot a tissue seller as you could find yourself with merchandise which you didn't ask for.
5. In case of any accidents wave hands around a little (but not too much or that could start an argument) then say "Pigliat a' targ e vattenn!!" - roughly translated as "Note my number plate and be on your way" Hopefully I will never need to use this one.
6. Parking: Neapolitans will park anywhere they can fit into - or nearly fit into. I've seen more vigilie about lately, but a good Neapolitan knows the vigil's habits. For example, if it's raining they won't be out (probably they'll be in the bar), if it's Sunday lunch time they won't be around either.
Here's one motorist spotted yesterday. Non ho parole.