Ah, Tuscany. You've heard all about the wines, the art, the Renaissance architecture. But for my money, Tuscany's a place for high-speed adventure and danger. See, one of my guidebooks flat-out says, "Italians have the worst driving record in Europe." Actually, that's not true. It's much worse than that! And, if my guidebook wasn't warning enough, the scene my wife and I experienced at the car rental agency in Florence should have been a red alert.
It turns out my wife heard the agent just right. There was a hole in our Fiat's door, a bullet hole, with a clear entry and exit path. A probable example of road rage, Italian style. And the accident? Well, more about that in a minute. So we head south out of Florence for Sienna, riding a hilly, twisty back road.
A LOUD THUMP AND CAR BRAKES SQUEALING
So I called that toll free number.
Rudy, this driving thing was getting to be a vacation distraction. "You gotta adjust your thinking", a friend I made in a café told me, "Driving in Tuscany is a sport. We don't just watch car races, we live them!" After awhile I did get into extreme driving: one foot on the gas, the other on the brake. One hand on the steering wheel, the other on the horn. Fear nothing. Not even buses. Well, O.K., buses. Fear buses. But nothing else! When we got to the airport at the end of the vacation, there were two stacks of forms in front of the agent: one small, one large. You guessed it. The large stack was accident report forms. And unlike anything else we came across on our two-week stay: they were in English. They get 30 or 40 dented rentals a day from guys like me. So Rudy, if you go to Tuscany, watch out for that old guy that hit us. They never did ask us for his plate number. He's still on the loose. And remember, "It's a sport." No matter what happens.
Russ Thibeault lives in Laconia, New Hampshire. He was assisted in that postcard by Liz Bulkley with production assistance provided by Boston's WBUR-FM.
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