How we Pulled it off Living in Italy: Cost of Living: Transportation
How we pulled it off to move to Italy. Transportation.
This part is called: Transportation in Italy.
PART 18: I thought it might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.
We are in Galatone, Puglia, until the end of September, then back again in the winter.
Our theme is: What we are discovering about transportation in Italy.
Step 1: Before moving to Puglia, we had a rude awakening. We visited in January and rented a car for several weeks. We wanted to get a feel for the area and see some sights in northern Italy. Our moving date to Puglia was July 1. On June 29, a curious registered letter arrived from Italy. It contained two moving violations (speeding) recorded during our January visit. The strange thing is that we broke the traffic laws twice on the same day. We had no idea we were speeding since our rule of thumb was to go with the traffic flow.
Step 2: Speeding in Italy. After paying over 250 euros for two speeding tickets, we vowed not to make the same mistake again. So when we leased our car in June of this year, we made sure it had a good GPS, alerting us of the speeding limits on each route. So we got in our car on July 2, left the Rome airport, and got on the highway to Puglia. We were attentive to all the signs and limits.
Step 3: Strange changes in limits. We soon discovered two things: the speed limits often change on the same road, in the same direction. At one moment, it is 80; then it becomes 100, then 50, then up to 90. We kept to these various limits as cars dashed by us on our left.
The second thing we learned is that Italian speed cameras are clearly marked, according to law. One will not get pulled over for speeding here; a ticket arrives in the mail without human contact. So we watched for the signs indicating camera zones. Our local friends explained that some camera zones are permanent while others are temporary. Before entering each clocking zone, there is always a warning sign; one may pass many "temporary" camera zones, indicated by signs, where there are no cameras on that day.
Step 4: Learning curve. Italy also has a point system in which one's car insurance is affected by infractions. In our case, however, we were concerned about getting fines (besides the safety factor). So we erred on the side of caution until we got a sense from our local friends about how to navigate roads. Always consulate locals.
Our local friends confirmed that road speed limits change, so be aware of that. They also said that drivers are usually permitted to go about 10 kilometers above the limit, but, even using this as a rule of thumb, to slow down on entering clocking zones. Regarding the temporary zones, one never knows when one is being clocked or not. In summary, they said to be wary but not paranoid.
Step 5: Driving styles. I don't know what the driving styles are in northern Italy, but in our region in Puglia, drivers are a little more aggressive than in California. If I am driving down the main street and another car wants to make a turn onto my road, rather than waiting, they will usually nudge out to see if they can get me to slow down so they can get in front. I've found myself driving more aggressively, letting them know who has the right of way.
Pedestrians also do not have the right of way in the same way we are used to. If I step onto a crosswalk, some cars stop, and some zoom through. So always be aware.
Step 6: Gas. When I hear my compatriots complain about gas back in California, I want to tell them to look at prices in Italy. Having no oil sources, Italy has to import all of its gasoline supplies, which is expensive. As of September 2022, a gallon of gas in Italy costs about $7.00.
Step 7: Public transportation. Coming from California, it is easy to import into Italy the idea that public transportation is a huge hassle. That's because, back in CA, it is. But once one has tried using the trains in Italy, it isn't easy to return to total car reliance. I use an app from Trenitalia (https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html), in which I can find, book, and pay for all of my train needs. Not having a car to park is a huge asset, and not having to navigate a European road system lifts a level of stress. We have also taken the cheap flight route, such as RyanAir. But, I've found that if I calculate the time to get to and from the airport, check-in, security, drop off, etc., I am usually better off if I hop on a train if I am traveling within Italy.
Insights: Relaxing into the way of life here in Puglia means understanding how to navigate the various transportation options, which are all means to the same end: to make the most out of living in this incredible place.
Watch for my book coming around the 1st of the year: "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy."
More next time.