Even parking and walking is not for the fainthearted in Italy ... – Paradiso Ceramics Australia | Handmade in Italy


Even parking and walking is not for the fainthearted in Italy ...

It’s 2006 and our first trip to Italy. (We described our early experiences driving in another Blog.)

We had hired a large, box-like Fiat manual car in Rome to accommodate the groups of friends staying with us. (We upgraded to more comfortable Renaults on future Italian journeys, but always rented seven-seater cars.)

This was our first venture into Assisi, and we were very excited. Jan drove nervously through the narrow stone arch entrance to the upper city ...

Squeezing through the archway into Assisi

 ... then turned left into a car park at Piazza Matteotti. There were no vacant spaces in the open-air section so we plunged down a steep curved ramp into the underground carpark. 

Most Italians drive small cars to fit through the narrow streets, and we soon realised this is also an advantage when parking.

Although there are many larger model cars in Italy, car spaces are often very narrow.

Even though there are a lot of larger model cars in Italy now - SUV aren't uncommon - the spaces are often very small. If your car is any larger than a Fiat Bambino, you are best to let your passengers out before you park, and then suck in your middle to squeeze out of the car yourself.

Bambino fiats are a smart choice in Italian streets and carparks

The man in the ticket office appeared to be irritated by being interrupted but handed over a ticket reluctantly and we were off to explore the town.

The streets in Assisi can be dangerous for tourists dodging rare but speeding local traffic.

At this point I should mention … pedestrian crossings.

Now you might think that a pedestrian crossing is where one walks across the road safely. Think again. We think the reason why pedestrian crossings exist in Italy is to give some bloke a job painting the stripes.

Do not assume that traffic will stop for you. They probably won’t. Always wait until there are no cars in sight before venturing out and hurry across in case a car roars around a corner or out of a carpark. 

If there is a row of slow-moving traffic approaching the crossing, make sure the driver of the car you intend to step out in front of acknowledges your intention.  If he or she is looking grumpy, they might aim for you.

Watch out for cars whizzing through the narrow streets of Italian towns

And be careful strolling around those charming ancient towns. While car traffic is restricted in most of them, those who are allowed to bring their cars in can whizz through those narrow streets. Be ready to quickly flatten yourself against a wall as they fly past.

Watch out for cars when walking through Italian towns

Why it can be annoying to have to park outside the walls of the old towns, maybe it's just as well as Italians are masters of fitting into verrryyyy small spaces.

Cars parked nose to nose in Cortona

 So even parking and walking is not for the faint hearted in Italy!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published