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Amalfi Coast: The best/worst Italian driving

Posted by daveb on November 8th, 2007

We talked to three people about seeing the Amalfi Coast and they all said the same thing:

“Don’t drive it yourself!”

Seriously, it’s not as bad as the Internet/SQ’s Mum/My Mum makes out. True, the road is really bendy and, true, it does get too narrow for two vehicles to pass each other in many places. However, the barriers on the cliff side are adequate (certainly more adequate than those in some of the American national parks that I’ve driven in a much bigger Winnebago-style motorhome) and the wall-side wasn’t that sticky-outy either.

In all honesty, there are only two things that spice-up the beautiful coastal drive:

Firstly, there’s the other road users. Italian drivers/riders are either a) really, really skilled as they put themselves and their vehicles into positions which would set the average British driver’s heart racing, if only slightly, or b) really, really bad drivers with a flagrant disregard for everyone’s health and wellbeing, including their own. Judging by the amount of dinks and dents–and often missing body panels–on most of the local cars, I’d call the latter. Hilariously, the law on this road is to “give way to overtaking vehicles” which means that if a speeding local on the wrong side of the road fast-approaching a cliff-hanging, hairpin bend twitches his nose in front of yours then you have to brake to let him in before the local coming towards you from the other direction of the blind corner has to fork-out for a new bumper!

Secondly, and way more of a white knuckle experience, the tourist coaches (usually full of petrified Americana) must take the racing-line to even stand a chance of getting round bend in one piece. If you meet one head-on in the bend, understand that it’s not them that is going to reverse until a suitable passing-spot is located. I was lucky not to meet any in a really tricky spot, whereas Squiffy met one early on in her drive, just as we entered a dark tunnel. She stamped on the brake so hard, that I must have looked like a bottled-Bartlett, face pressed up against the glass. The bus driver was so impressed with her reversing that he wound down his window and congratulated her, to a backdrop of the applauding coach party. Well done Chicken!

SQ adds: Thanks Dave and some good driving on your part too, although I have to note that for me, contrary to what I expected, it was much scarier being the passenger than the driver! We should mention too that we took a tactical decision to drive Amalfi to Sorrento rather than the other direction, to ensure we were furtherest from the sea/sheer drop side of the road :o)

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Pingback from Amalfi Coast » Blog Archive » Amalfi Coast: The best/worst Italian driving
Time: December 20, 2007, 3:09 pm

[…] Amalfi Coast: The best/worst Italian drivingWe talked to three people about seeing the Amalfi Coast and they all said the same thing:. “Don’t drive it yourself!” Seriously, it’s not as bad as the Internet/SQ’s Mum/My Mum makes out. True, the road is really bendy and, true, … […]

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