So first off, there are no such things as driving rules in Italy. “The signs and lines are only suggestions,” my dad tells me, as the taxi driver takes another sharp right…then a left…and, HEY ARE WE ON A ONE WAY STREET? I mean seriously, Italians are so impatient when it comes to driving that at one point, a vespa sped around us and was driving along the trolly path, only to hop off at the sight of an oncoming cable car…I mean really.
Today we rented a car and sped north to Firenze. Sped is an understatement; I’m pretty sure we were going at least 100 the entire time…and we were still being passed on the autostrade. Lush green fields, dappled with bursts of yellow sunflowers blurred together as we raced along Fiats, BMW’s, and the occasional “Space Van”. Olive trees sway in the wind as I gazed out my window, admiring the rustic villages nestled at the base of the surrounding mountains. We continued to weave down the highway, yelling a few Italian swear words at the tourists who have obviously never driven like a European (seriously I don’t even know why they bother putting lines on the roads).
One of my favorite memories of when we drove from Rome to Sicily summer of my Junior year was when we stopped at all the Autogrills. Autogrill is an Italian chain of gas stations scattered along autostrade from the tip to the bottom of the boot. And of course, it is like the holy land of gas stations. I mean where else can you go in an get a pretty decent cup of espresso at a gas station? Nowhere else, duh. After filling my arms with almost ever novelty I could get my hands on, we ventured back to the rental car to begin our taste test. Four words. Dark chocolate covered rice cakes. Hands down one of my newest obsessions.
Hey mom, remember that one time we went to University of South Carolina and drove in circles for two hours trying to find the campus? Yeah that was dad and I trying to find the hotel once we got to Firenze. After a brief power nap in the car, I awoke to find us driving around in circles. “I can’t find the damn hotel” Stevebro exclaims. We call the front desk, where they inform us that the address online is not the actual address and give us directions on how to ACTUALLY get there. Imagine that. We arrive 5 minutes later to a quaint, Palladio inspired boutique hotel. Floral gardens and skinny cyprus trees contrast with the white washed walls and red tile roof of our home for the next two days. Firenze, mi piace molto.