Driving (Real) Italian Style – A Trip Through Italy For Car Lovers
by Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®
We first thought that our trip to Italy would be from the comfort of Ferrari’s, Maserati’s, Alfa Romero’s and Lamborghini’s. This was far from reality. We started by having a taxi drive from the airport that would put New York cab drivers to shame. Driving down the middle of two lanes at almost 100 mph., being passed on both sides and lots of horns plus a driver that spoke no English made us think twice about renting a car. So we walked, took the train at the termini and hired drivers that had sane driving skills.
Our driver, Raffale, gave us the rules of driving in Italy; for every law there is a loophole, and the lines on the road are just decorations! I’m glad those are not the rules of driving in the USA.
Service areas on the Autostrada, expressways or toll roads, are much different. In the United States we often get off the highway to have coffee, burgers, and sandwiches. In Italy, rest areas sell wine, beer and hard liquor as well as great quality food. Auto Grills all along the Auto Strada make fresh expressos and cappacinos. Shelby and I got hooked on the cappacinos because they make them at a drinkable temperature designed so that you can drink and go, not like American coffee joints’ roasting hot coffee.
My first worry about the Auto Grill was the danger of drinking and driving. I was amazed to see almost everyone, including truck drivers, drinking a glass of liquor or wine with their meal.
Speaking of truck drivers, they are banned from driving from mid-day Saturday through midnight Sunday, unless they are transporting perishables or livestock.
DWI’s are a concern but, surprisingly, the issue isn’t as big a problem in Italy as it is in America. I’m not sure why this is the case. Maybe its because drinks are usually served with meals whereas bars are not as prevalent as they are in the United States. Still, the fatalities in Italy are about 30 per weekend.
Gas (or benzina) is very expensive and many Italian cars are diesel powered as diesel costs less and gets better fuel economy. Stations are easy to find; mostly pumps on the side of the road with a guy sitting in a chair and no booth.
As a pedestrian in Italy, you learn to walk across the street, show NO fear and keep a consistent pace. Don’t worry, the cars will swerve around you. No kidding! Most experienced Italian pedestrians never show fear nor even glance toward the drivers. If you’re especially concerned at a busy intersection, simply place your arm out like a Mussolini salute and start walking – this says you mean business.
Children start driving at the age of 14 years old and learn to drive on either a scooter under 50cc with a helmet or a tiny compact car. The Teen Car Coach will share more out teen driving in Itlay in a future issue. At age 18 you can earn your license to drive a car and at 21 years olds can drive a motor bike over 600cc.
A car lover’s dream is to be able to drive and look at all the amazing Italian cars in one day. Your dream can come true with Italian Car Factory Tours from MOTORSTARS. They offer you first class tours through the most presigious Italian sports car and motorbike manufacturers: Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, Ducati and Maserati.
MOTORSTARS provides high-quality, high-octane tours with expert guides who have worked in Ferrari F1 and other prestigious racing car companies. The guides share your passion and introduce you to the secrets of the most powerful and admired cars in the world. The knowledgeable MOTORSTARS guides accompanied us to the factories and museums in very small group. It was personalized and an enjoyable experience.
We were picked up at the Bologna train station in a luxury air conditioned new Mercedes van, where they showed us videos of each factory and it’s history. We were incredibly excited to get to the first factory. The videos wet your appetite with documentary videos of Italian performance cars; both in action and under the hood.
When we arrived at the Ducati factory, we were greeted by a tour guide who took us through the factory and then through the fascinating museum full of history and Ducati race and street technology. This tour is more impressive than you could imagine. The museum curator, Livio Lodi, lives and breathes Ducati’s and the museum was incredible.
Our driver, Francesco Bini, the owner and a true enthusiast and racer, was professional, had technical knowledge and was very cordial.Then we were off to the world’s famous Italian mechanical engineering facilities of Ferrari.
MOTORSTARS made us feel a part of the team. The tour was amazing and it was an unforgettable experience. Now I want a Ferrari in the garage! Even the Ferrari employees looked like they belonged on the race team. The famous town of Modena was all about Ferrari’s.
They gave us an option to drive a Ferrari 458, spyder or coupe; Shelby and Paul aren’t 21 so they had to settle for a very fast ride with professional race car drivers on Modena roadways. They loved it and returned with very large smiles. Other members of our group rented a drive and were ecstatic with the experience and couldn’t stop talking about it.
A note about Ferrari factory tours; they are only offered to Ferrari clients. The Ferrari factory directly manages factory tours in collaboration with Ferrari dealers.
After a light lunch, we were off to the Lamborghini factory tour a short ride away.
The factory was in-between model years so we visited the museum at the factory. Every model Lamborghini was present including the very rare LM002. A friend of mine has one and they are impressive. We were allowed to sit in a few of them and drool on all the current models. There was even a Reventon which is worth around $1 million. The stealth look is just awesome.
MOTORSTARS took care of every last detail, their goal was to understand our needs and to help us receive the most out of our experience. This is a highly recommended tour! If you find yourself in Italy, make sure to contact MOTORSTARS for the tour of a lifetime that I promise – you won’t forget it!