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.
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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