One of the problems of driving in Italy is that there are amazing views , chance glimpses of antiquities and endless attractive villages and towns perched high on hills which you co-pilot points you never get to see them as you are normally involved in some manoeuvre or another.
This actually changed for me last year as when we presented ourselves to the car rental desk in Naples the guy behind the counter pointed out that my UK licence had expired three months before and my erstwhile co-pilot had left hers in Cyprus. It seems that when you are 70 tears old the UK insists you get a new licence . No problem but of course I had been driving for three months in Cyprus without one !
Oh dear I said or words to that effect and we slunk away from the counter and headed back to the taxi rank . We’ll catch a train I suggested and clicked on my trusty Trainline Europe app. Hmm Naples to Bari 6 hours ! Where on earth does the train go I shouted at the app via Milano but no it is just really slow and I mean really slow you must almost be able to walk alongside it if you fancy some exercise like the Palace on Wheels Train in India. So I phoned some Italian friends in Martina. Our daughter the wife said always uses Flixbus, you can get one from Naples to Fasano and we can pick you up there. So I downloaded the App and made the booking on line for the next day. 2.30 in the afternoon arriving at 7 pm €12 each one way less than the toll by car.
Now the Italians seem to have hawk eyes when it comes to dates on driving licences. We knew a couple in Puglia that had been out to a friends house near Bari for lunch one Sunday. It turned into a fairly liquid affair with plenty of wine followed by plenty of wine and the wife seeing how thirsty her husband was said early on that she would drive home. This encouraged him to more superhuman feats of quaffing and he gave the grappa a good seeing to as well.
Once in the car he fell into the sleep of the good and she started the drive back down to Ceglia. Halfway down the autostrada as she came around a bend she saw blue lights flashing and a policeman on the hard shoulder waving a torch for her to pull in . Her husband was snoring loudly in the right hand seat as she pulled to a stop and wound the window down . The policeman asked something in Italian and she decided like many expats to play the language card ” I’m sorry I don’t speak Italian ” she said. Wonderful the policeman replied I can practise my English ! Could I see you drivers licence ? She found it in her purse and handed it over hoping also that having made the sacrifice of not drinking all afternoon who would produce a breathalyser and have her blow in it. Husband continued to snore. This licence has expired said the policeman . Can’t have she replied we only back from the UK for a week and we hired a car there. Sorry he said look at the date and blow me he was right. I’m sorry he said you cant drive the car pull over to the slip road. But how do I get home she asked ? He will have to drive said the policeman. Him he’s drunk replied the wife. Wake him up and get him in the drivers seat. After about 10 mins she achieved this and the husband with only one eye open to stop the world doing loop the loops was ready to go. But asked the wife what happens if we are stopped again, he will go to jail and hopefully they will throw away the key. I will give you a note which you can give to any policeman and he wrote one out dated it stamped it and gave it to her. Only in Italy she thought and somehow the husband got them home. In the cold light of the next morning as he sat nursing his hangover he said didn’t we renew our licences on the same day ? My gosh she said I think we did and rushed to find his in the car. It had expired !!