Friday, October 21, 2011

Running with the Young Dogs

Driving is a big part of life in our town--I'd better get with it!
I had hoped to do a post about getting an Italian driving license (patente di guida) about now, but since I have not made it that far, I’ll just tell part of the story.
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I need the patente because when my American license expires, it cannot be easily renewed since I am not a resident of any state in the US. Sounded fairly simple at first.  Then I learned that the wonderful Berlusconi administration had done away with English language driving tests as of January 2011. We suspect it is an anti-immigrant ploy, but maybe it’s truly a cost savings attempt.
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The English book with test examples is one we bought with another couple, but I figured I need to focus on Italian only. Hence, I only used an online simulation of the exam which uses very odd, difficult Italian. But, lots of repetition was giving me confidence. I went to Cosenza with a carload of kids to take the exam in September. I scored 80% which doesn’t cut it – 90% is needed to pass. Someday I’ll tell you about the driving habits of the instructor who took us to the Provincial capital. We did use seat belts which is quite unusual for Italians!
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While yakking with a neighbor one day about this difficult test, she went inside and got a 1998 textbook. Ecco, it has most of what I needed to understand the theory of Italian driving rules, highway first aid and liability insurance. I ordered an updated version, but still have not seen it.  
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Yes, Italians do need to know the rules to get a patente. Once they have it, they can resume driving like everyone else. I still think Italians are more skilled drivers than Americans. That surely is the case in Calabria where you seldom see accidents.  I used to have 3-4 fatals and many more serious wrecks per year on the road I traveled daily in the states. Here, more wrecks occur in the big cities of the north. I found stats indicating the fatal accident rate per 100,000 people is about 12.6 in Italy and 15 in United States.
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Anyway, reading that book improved my scores on the simulations and I thought I was ready for another try this week. Guess what, the same score as before. You know how one little word can change the context of a sentence? Well if you don’t know what a new Italian word means, you have to take a guess and I fell short. An example: abbigliante = high beam headlites.  anabbigliante = low beams. When you are up against a 30 minute clock and the pressure, would you see the difference? I did not for a couple months. Of course, in Italian there are other ways of expressing “high beams” and dovete sapere tutti straniero vecchio (you have to know them all, old foreigner)!


Of the 8 teenagers that went on the bus with me, only one passed. Having Italian as their native tongue should give these kids an easy pass, but they must not pay much attention.
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I’ll just keep trying. I only had two chances to pass, so I now start over again for another €300. The money is for the course and lessons, but I understand very little of what the teachers rapidly say and, being very young themselves, they spend a lot of time horsing around with the students – loudly. It’s best that the old gray fox goes off to study alone and maybe he’ll do better the next time he tries running with those pups (left).
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Guido



8 comments:

  1. In England, if you don't speak English you are allowed a translator for the theory test. We wonder if it is an option in Italy for you. Shame we didn't get chance to meet up in September, but it sounds like you we busy studying! Perhaps next time. Best wishes John & Toni

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  2. Hi Guys, no dictionaries, translators or even pencils are allowed in the exam room. Some states in the US offer their tests in 6 languages. Hey, it's helping with my Italian. Sorry we missed you. Try next year if I'm able to drive up there!!

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  3. Strange how the test is so strict. Nobody would believe it, if they have ever driven in Napoli. We have had three of us trying to turn left out of a junction all at the same time there. We laugh about it now, but it was a bit scary at the time. Of course, we were the ones in the middle! We hope for your sanity and your bank balance that it is third time lucky for you! John & Toni

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  4. We visited with a woman in Rome who has lived here for 40 years and refuses to take the Italian driving test. She has a parent in the States and can use that address to continue renewing her US license as an ex-pat. Let us know if you need us to adopt you so you can renew your Oregon license!

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  5. Hi Doug;
    I can see straight away what your problem is: spelling!!

    "abbaglianti" NOT "abbiglianti" :-) :-) and, of course, "anabbaglianti"

    Just as well they don't give marks for spelling ... and my driving tests in English didn't include words like "though" "laugh" "slough" "cough" "Hugh" "slow" etc...

    :-)

    ciao

    Gian

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  6. Wishing you the best, Doug, in your driving endeavors!

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  7. Laura, I'll keep the concept of Oregon foster parents in mind!

    Giancarlo my friend, don't be pushing my buttons!! What language does South Africa use for driving tests. BTW, just learned that I got 6 wrong, not 8 so just missed it by two trick questions. prossima volta

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  8. Ah, those tests can be so hard! You have my sympathy. :-)

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