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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Patente=Drivers License

When I finally get my residence card, I will have to take my Italian drivers license test. It is given in Italian and it is a written and a driving exam. I have the option to take it orally since I am a foreigner but I have not decided yet. There are many, many driving schools out there. You sign up for a class, take the practice exams, study the book, get a tutor, practice in a car with a tutor and then go in for your exam. All this can cost from either 250-600 Euros depending on how much instruction you choose.

Driving schools really don't exist in the U.S., or do they? I know a lot of kids take drivers education in highschool though. When I was 15 I got my drivers permit, which meant I could drive with a licensed adult in the car with me. Then at 16, after a year of on the road practice, I took the written exam and the driving exam and got my license. It was all a piece of cake. When I arrived in Seattle from Guam, I only had to take another written exam before I was given a spiffy new Washington State driving license.

Here in Italy, things a a bit trickier. I know the patente has a reputation to be a very long process. First the driving classes take several months to complete, then you sign up for a written exam, if you fail you have to retake it until you pass, then about a month later you will be able to take the driving exam. It is not a one-shot deal like in the States where in a one afternoon you can walk out of the D.M.V. (Dept.of Motor Vehicles) with a drivers license. In fact, in Italy your driving license is not a valid form of identification.

I am studying the examination book now in the hopes that I won't fail too many times. This book is very long and full of a million rules that no one seems to follow, or no one seems to enforce.

Some examples:

1. Do not park on islands, in front of rubbish containers, in bus zones, in handicapped zones, in back of other cars, blocking entrances to driveways etc...

2. You and your passenger(s) must wear seatbelts at all times. The one page later it says, children under 12 must be restrained by the approved child restraint for their age and height but children under l3 can be in vehicles not fitted with the proper restraints if they sit in the back and are accompanied by someone over 16 years old! Huh????

3. You may not use cell phones while you are driving. I once got a warning for this but not a ticket.

4. You are required to wear a helmet on a moped, motorcycle and/or sidecar.

I have no idea if I will pass or not on the first try but it's something I can't avoid any longer.

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At 3:12 PM, Blogger Jilli said...

First of all, I so enjoy your blog and I can't wait to try your receipts. Regarding your driving licence, I have heard it is a process! I was wondering what documentation you are currently using to drive. Do you just drive with your US licence, or did you apply for an international driving licence? Best of luck to you, I'm sure you'll do just fine.

I appreciate having these sites to read as this transition to living in Italy doesn't come with an instruction manual! (That would be nice!)

Thanks again,

At 11:10 PM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

Best wishes to you Gina. You know how I feel on this subject! Living in a small town, I have been able to avoid driving. So far, I really have not had the need. ONe of these days, I am going to have to take the bull by its horns. I think Danilo will get sick of being my personal driver soon, maybe I should start riding up in the front the seat! hehehehe!

I did hear that in June the driving test would be offered in 18 languages, including English. Of course this is Italy, so who knows if or when that will really happen. Too bad we don't live closer, we could go through this mess together!

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

oh they do have driving schools everywhere. You can take them at any age. I think I had a few people who were older. But the thing is, I think after age 18, you don't have to take the driving courses and can opt to be taught by yourself or a partner or someone you know. That's why you probably didn't hear about it. We see tons of people here in Canada doing that too. But I would have thought you could just transfer your license to Italy.... Interesting... For piece of mind, I did that for Canada. And I did have to take a test in Washington actually...

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous paz said...

Good luck!


At 2:23 PM, Anonymous NiHao said...

Good luck! Where I am there is a 56 week wait from the time you take your written exam until your road test, and even once you get to that point there is something like an 80% fail rate. I'm convinced its a government ploy to get more money since you pay every time you take the test!


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