Ten Tips for Surviving the Autostrada

By Mitchell Murdock

Because Italian highways are not American highways; because you never know when you’ll need to drive from Naples to Venice; and because you have a penchant for near-death experiences, I have collected the following tips for you, the daring traveler hoping to survive Italy’s road system:

A view of the Autostrada near Cocullo, Italy (Creative Commons)

1. Don’t drive in Italy.

2. If you absolutely must drive in Italy, consult tip number one.

3. If you long for death in Venice and moments that take your breath away—sounds like an Italian adventure to me!—then the Autostrada might be your cup of cappuccino.

4. A two-lane road is actually a three-and-a-half-lane road.

5. Stop signs are optional.

6. Keep a liberal hand on the horn. This is how you say, “Hello, I’m going 50 km per hour faster than you and I’d like to pass!” or “Hello, I’m driving this car!” or “Sorry and thank you for letting me cut you off!” and, my favorite, “MA CHE CAZZO FAI??? $%&@#!!!!”

7. If you get road rage, consult tips one and two. Though honestly, it’s better to just not get road rage—try to play a game instead. For example: there’s this great game Italians play where they see how often they can swerve into other the lane without killing anybody. It’s a riot.

8. Consider learning the dance I call The Amoeba. Stick you pseudopod into traffic. Adapt, retract, reshape. And ingest your prey! Mopeds beware!

9. Learn to love the Autogrill. Autogrills are like American rest stops in that they are convenient places to rest, stop, and find a bathroom; Autogrills are also like supermalls in that in order to exit, you must navigate through a labyrinth of shelves packed with cheese puffs, sausages, limoncello, discounted novels, and a cappuccino bar. Everything you never thought you might need for the road!

10. When a truck passes, close your eyes and pray. Unless the truck is one of those adorable mini-trucks that look like my tricycle from kindergarten upgraded with headlights and a bumper—in this case, just laugh.

Mitchell Murdock ’14 is in Morse College. Contact him at mitchell.murdock@yale.edu.