In honor of getting my foglio rosa (learner’s permit) last week, I’m going to have a little fun with Italian driving. This will involve some translating, which may or may not make for a fun exercise for the reader. If not, my apologies.
Drivers’ licenses are not convertible between the US and Italy. To get a learner’s permit in Italy, an American has to master some 25-30 subjects (with subcategories) covering such subjects as the definition of a street, how and where to park, the meaning of about 100 road signs, which car goes first at dozens of hypothetical intersections, how to hook up a trailer, and how to render first aid to someone in a state of shock. There are about seven categories of licenses according to type of vehicle, with detailed rules about who can obtain each, and some categories have age progressions. And naturally different vehicles have different speed limits, which also depend on the type of road. All in all, the question bank contains about 6000 true/false items, which can be tested in Italian, French or German–but not English.
In short, it requires some studying. But I passed! And I start learning to drive a manual transmission car next week.
I’m sure you’ve thought of the obvious question by now: Does anyone really obey all these rules?
Well, if you feel up to some Italian, I have a little mini-quiz for you which should answer that question nicely: Watch the trailer above from about the first minute mark to almost the second minute mark, then answer the following questions as true or false based on the clip. For your convenience, I have provided translations into English for each question:
1) Sui veicoli è consentito il trasporto di un animale domestico, comunque in condizione da non costituire impedimento o pericolo per la guida. T/F
(It is permissible to transport a domestic animal, as long as it doesn’t pose an impediment or danger to driving.)
2) Sui motocicli è vietato trasportare oggetti che non siano solidamente assicurati. T/F
(It is forbidden to transport objects that aren’t solidly secured.)
3) Il carico dei veicoli deve essere sistemato in modo da evitarne la caduta o la dispersione. T/F
(The vehicle’s load must be arranged in such a way as to avoid being dropped or scattered.)
4) Il carico non deve superare il limite di sagoma stabilito per ogni tipo di veicolo. T/F
(The load must not exceed the limits of the outline established for each type of vehicle.)
5) Su strade coperte di neve occorre evitare brusche manovre. T/F
(On snow-covered streets you must avoid sudden maneuvers.)
5) Su strade coperte di neve occorre moderare la velocità. T/F
(On snow-covered streets you must moderate your speed.)
The answer to all these questions happens to be true. Did you pass?
As for the film clip: Sorry I couldn’t find this clip from The Return of Don Camillo with English subtitles. If anyone is interested, the basic idea is this: Don Camillo, Italy’s favorite pugnacious priest, has been reassigned to a distant mountain hamlet because got into some trouble at the end of the first film.
The scene begins as he arrives at the train station near his new home. He seems to be greeted by cheering, but he soon discovers that the welcome is for a local cyclist instead. Standing forlornly on the platform with gifts from his old parishioners, Don Camillo meets an old man who tells him that the priest he is replacing has recently died, but he was a gentle man who was loved by all. He further tells Don Camillo that the town he is assigned to is 10 kilometers away, but he can offer him a ride part way.
The next scene is the one that concerns the driving test and doesn’t have much dialogue, but my favorite bit is at the end:
Don Camillo: “What do you do for a living, anyway?”
Old man: “I’m a road inspector.”
Don Camillo eventually arrives at this new parish, where he is greeted by a terrified old caretaker who calls him an earthquake and a cyclone, insists she’s heard all about him and isn’t afraid of him, yet shrieks and defends herself with a broom. Don Camillo then walks into the sanctuary of his new church, where he sees that it’s leaking and in terrible shape. There he has a conversation with Jesus, via the crucifix, about how badly they’re both being treated. But Jesus, for once, doesn’t reply to Don Camillo, because the priest’s self-pity has gotten in the way of his ability to hear. More antics occur, in the Guaresci’s simultaneously comical and touching mix of postwar Italian life.
If you’re interested, here’s a set of the first two DVDs with English subtitles, zoned for American viewers.