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Advice for a nervous driver

Australia
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for Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples
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Advice for a nervous driver

Well, it's never to early to start planning for 2014 so here come the questions.

I realise I'm severely limiting my experiences by not driving - and next time I wish to visit places that are really only accessible by car, like the Cilento National Park, south to Calabria and the mountain villages of Campania.

Thing is, I am utterly terrified of driving over there. I had a car accident in the USA a few years ago due to my inexperience with driving on the left. That, coupled with the speed and madness of the California freeways have left me a nervous wreck when it comes to the 'other side of the road'.

So - advice, reassurance, tips are welcome. I just want to hire a car in Naples and get out for about a week - just sticking to local roads - from my cursory glances at road maps this *seems* theoretically possible. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

Copenhagen, Denmark
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1. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

I'm very sorry to say this, but according to what you are telling about inexperienced with right side driving, being nervous and finding Californian road devilish i would really really REALLY suggest and recommend you stay far away from driving in Italy!!

Burlington, ON
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2. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

I was also nervous about driving in Italy as I'm not great with manual transmission and we couldn't get an automatic as we didn't book early enough. I did some research ahead of time and it worked out fine. We picked up the car at the Naples airport. We arranged for pick up around 11am on a weekday as I was told that this wasn't as busy a time on the roads. We found the traffic to be fine. I also "drove" the route on Google Streetview several times so I was familiar with where to go. In about 15 mins we were outside of Naples and on to the back roads through Campania towards Benevento. From there we drove through Molise, Abruzzo and Umbria for a week always staying on the lesser roads. I used the Michelin Guide to plan out my route ahead of time and looked at the roads on Google.

After a few hours I started to feel much more comfortable. Only challenge I had was parking on a steep road so I asked a local man to help and he happily did. I am really glad I did it as we saw places that we would have never seen travelling by train or on the highways and we met some wonderful people in the small towns we visited. It also helped me overcome my fear and I am also already planning my trip for next year and will again rent a car.

Australia
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for Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples
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3. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

PortiaG - that's just what I wanted to hear - what awesome advice.

I might add that after my bingle in San Diego (I hit a few parked cars...) I too became confident on USA roads but I've avoided driving in Italy because it seems to me to be like Fast and Furious 5 in real life. I am wanting to go to places you describe - small villages rarely explored by mass tourism - so the Michelin guide and using Google are both great tips. Thank you.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

Driving in the major cities of Italy is insane: traffic is fast and heavy, and plays by local rules.

But driving country roads in Italy is really no more difficult than driving country roads in USA. If someone is following too close behind you, just look for somewhere to pull right to let him past.

We have had a number of driving holidays in Italy, and it really is the only way of enjoying beautiful places like Norcia or Urbino.

5. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

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Australia
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for Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples
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6. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

Nick and Lynne I was hoping you would help out as I know you have lots of experience - thanks for the tips on your website - which are fantastic!

The little town of Calitri is one I am longing to visit but impossible without driving myself there. I keep a close eye on any thread to do with driving, especially rental car companies (that's a whole other minefield). Appreciate your help.

Edited: 15 November 2013, 00:21
Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

I see all the rental car threads but truth, we have never had a problem. We almost always get the car signed back in and we make certain the damage indication "map" of the car is complete before we take possession. We do go with the bigger places and of course you have to have a geared car (which is why Nick drives) Once we got a pretty dirty car and a few times we have had to queue for some time to pick up the car (Avignon TGV station was a very long wait) but apart from that, no problems.

Our travel insurance covers us for the damage excess anyway, but we haven't had to use it.

New York City, New...
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8. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

As long as you are out of the cities, it really is not that bad/challenging; rather fun, actually. Why not pick the car up in Salerno instead of Naples if heading more in that direction? The autostrada - for me - is just like any highway in most places. The country roads I find to be - well, just fun. I have driven on the other side of the road when in the UK and it did take me some getting used to - and, again, I didn't do so in the cities.

I think driving a manual on the opposite side than one is used to would definitely prove difficult for me as I would have to use my left hand and have the clutch on the other side. But, if you practice on some roads (parking areas?) for a bit, you could end up being confident - only you know that though.

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

>>I think driving a manual on the opposite side than one is used to would definitely prove difficult for me as I would have to use my left hand and have the clutch on the other side.<<

The pedals are the same way round: accelerate and brake with right foot, change gear with left. I don't find it difficult to change gear with my right hand, as the pattern of the gears is the same (left-and-forward for first gear, etc.), but for the first day or so I sometimes try to change gear with the door handle.

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10. Re: Advice for a nervous driver

Driving around italy is not difficult as long as you go along with the local way of driving. In general italian traffic is very polite believe it or not. Indicate and most people will allow you to turn, change lane. If you drive slow, drive in the slow lane. Drivers will drive to the back of your car to maximise their chance to overtake. Make it easy to allow them to do so. Pedestrians do cross the street and cars stop for them. If people stand on the road for a chat, go around them.

Be prepared to slow down in bends to allow oncoming traffic a smooth run. This is the only negative. They do cut corners but there is a system to the madness. At first simply slow down and make way.

Observe town centre restricted access. Cameras take pictures and believe me, they do find you for the fines. Check out what the sign looks like. Residents might have permission. So don't think you can do same.

The only place I would be nervous is around Naples city. Driving and parking can be mad. The car with the most dents has the right of way. Rest of italy is great for driving. Roads are also well sign posted.

Have a good trip.