I haven’t driven stick in years, but as the saying goes, “it’s like riding a bike.” I fire up the GPS, switch to the map of Italy and start driving. Stop! In attempting to exit the lot, I get stuck behind a bunch of parked rental cars … in the middle of the lane! I seem to recall the words of Ben Kenobi at this point, “your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them.” all right Ben, you sound like a smart guy…. I back up and try another way out.
Success! I’m on a road with a name! I’m driving in Italy! Holy shit! I’m driving in Italy? I mean… oh… shit! I’m driving in Italy, I don’t understand the signs, I’m not used to the km/h, I’ll be driving on toll roads and don’t understand the system, and I don’t really speak the language and I’m the only one that knows how to drive a manual transmission. And is this an alley I’m driving in now? Not paying attention to the map on the GPS, I’ve turned too soon. Crap! I guess this qualifies as a road. I mean, it’s paved.
Ok. Back on a major road. Wait… what’s this circle thing? Ah… a roundabout: the European civil engineer’s gift to efficiency and the GPS programmer’s hell to interperate. Wrong exit, adapt. Wrong exit, adapt. Eventually, I begin to adapt to the GPS’ instructions instead of letting the GPS adapt to my mis-actions. That works for a while, until Italy throws some road construction at me. No problem… GPS adapts, I follow the instructions and… uh.. is this a road or a dry riverbed? I swear… rocks. I’m driving our Ford Focus on rocks. Wait… I see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I see the autostrada! Why? Why would they block the onramp to it? Adapt again, and… again, and… we’re on!
And then, a toll booth. Wait… I don’t have to pay? Just take the ticket? Sweet! Suckahs! Another toll both. A’ight, cool. Just give me my ticket and… oh, I give you my ticket? And 1.70 euros? Ok. Eh… easy come, easy go.
And then (after a while), il laggo. It’s still twilight when we reach the lake. It’s so beautiful. It’s all worth it: the 20 hours of traveling, the bleakness that was Frankfurt, the bleakness of airline pot roast. Here is the beauty and charm (and excitement?) that I’ve been waiting for.