I learned to drive in the DC metro area, specifically in Silver Spring, Md, and as anyone who has driven in this area knows traffic is a nightmare. Maryland drivers are the most aggressive and the most self-entitled people on the road. We practice a “pay it forward” style of driving which means that whatever wrong has been done to you by another driver on the road you are required to pass that wrong on to someone else. That driver that just cut you off and almost took your front quarter panel with them? They were just stuck behind a phantom braker for the last 5 miles. We never use our turn signals but can’t stand it when others don’t use them either. We don’t want you in our lane but we’d at least like to see a turn signal as evidence that you want to be there, that way we get satisfaction as we speed up to box you out. We hate when people tailgate us but will tailgate you when we think you’re going to slow. We’ll also not-so-subtly passive aggressively speed up and tailgate you back when you’ve gone around us because apparently 15mph over wasn’t fast enough for you. We always drive at least 10mph over the speed limit so anything below that is too slow. If you’re in the left lane YOU MUST BE GOING AT LEAST 10 MPH OVER THE SPEED LIMIT otherwise, as stated before, you are too slow. Move out of the way. Sitting in the left lane doing the posted speed as an attempt to police your fellow drivers is going to result in you getting hit from behind, that is a guarantee. We weave in an out of lanes because we think we’re going to get where we’re going quicker but then enjoy it when others who do it get stuck in a slow lane and we catch up to them. When we see a cop on the side of the road we slam on the brakes and cause accidents. When we see a cop on the other side of a divided highway we slam on the brakes and cause accidents. We curse the idiots who cause accidents but will slow down so abruptly to see the accident that we, in turn, cause additional accidents. We learned to drive in a classroom, had nine hours of behind-the-wheel practice with an instructor, and took our drivers test in a parking lot. I know what you’re thinking, “You realize the stupidity of all of that, right? You realize how hypocritical you all are? You people are insane!” and you’d be right but, here’s the thing, we are actually proud of this. We are insanely proud of how bad we drive, it’s a testament to our driving ability if we can make it to work, the store, and home without running into someone or something. So think of us what you will but unless you bring your A game, you best just stay at home, Loser.
What does any of this have to do with Naples? A lot, actually. I thought I’d seen the worst driving in the world in Maryland. I’d even been to Puerto Rico, the place that, according to some, had the worst driving they’d ever seen, and then I came to Italy. Granted I haven’t visited every country in Europe but if I had to venture a guess I would say Italy has the worst drivers in all of Europe. At least all of southern Europe. And Neapolitan drivers are probably the worst of the worst. In other cities they at least acknowlege traffic lights, here they’re like pretty Christmas decorations left up year-round on the side of the road. What’s a STOP sign? Lane markers? There are lanes? Is that what those white dashed lines are? Do the cars six-wide know there should only be three down this highway? Pass on the off-ramp? Don’t mind if I do! Pfft, pedestrians, who do they think they are? Of course I have the right-of-way in my car, they’re just squishy bags of flesh, I can’t take them out very easily. Why would I want to stay in one lane when I can drift back and forth across all the lanes like I’m floating down a lazy river? Speed kills which is why I drive faster to get away from the other cars. Neapolitan drivers are like Maryland drivers but with a complete and utter disregard for anything. It’s not just flouting the law, it’s ignoring the fact that driving a 2000lb machine the way they do might result in bodily harm to themselves but more likely to others. I guess when you live at the base of a volcano that could erupt and destroy everything in a matter of moments you learn to live life in a way that doesn’t waste time thinking about such things. The thing is, Neapolitans are proud of the way they drive, just like people from Maryland. They know they drive like a bunch of crazy people on crack but they do it better than anyone else and that’s alright with them.