So, what happened with the driving license tests? (See here for an intro.)
The written test is taken at the department of motor vehicle offices in Piediripa near our provincial capital, Macerata, a half-hour away. I was picked up by the instructor along with three 18-year-olds, whose peer group made up the majority of exam-sitters – the remainder consisted of (a) older Italian women who’ve decided to finally take the plunge, in most cases out of pure necessity, and (b) non-EU foreigners like me who’ve become resident in
I was in the first of 4 morning sittings, starting out at the Italian version of 8:30am - 45 minutes late at . In a typically drab, paint-peeling, last-cleaned-10-years-ago, ill-furnished government room, we used touch screens to record our answers. The stark contrast – modern technology against dilapidated building – was marked, and yet another of the typically Italian contradictions that one encounters on a daily basis.
Each student gets a different test, so you can’t peep at your neighbour’s answers. I answered with a tentative confidence, knowing full well that there could be logic-defying mines buried in the answer sheet.
When they read out the results, the first candidate of the sheet – a Mr. Ali – got 9 errors, thereby failing with honours and instilling a feeling of trepidation in the rest of us clustered around the examiner, who fumbled at the computer with a complete absence of technological prowess, welcoming every hint of distraction to draw him away from the obvious torture of having to do this.
Luckily, it seems as if I managed to dodge all the mines, and I passed. (You’re not told about the number of errors, but at this point it’s moot.)
I always thought that there was a mandatory 30-day waiting period between the written test and the practical driving test, but Andreas the instructor immediately confirmed a practical exam a week later. I did not ask any questions.
Arrangements for the day of the driving test were curiously vague, but I went along with them in a trusting but confused haze, showing up on time at at one of the junctions down on the main road near here. No Andreas, just a woman who greeted me as if she knew me.
About 45 minutes after the appointed time, a car I’d never seen with “Scuola Guida” (driving school) on it pulled up and disgorged several young 18-year-olds, including one with whom I’d taken the driving test. The woman who’d greeted me earlier beckoned me to come and get in the car, and so – somewhat bemused by it all but happy that something was at last happening – I did. The driver, who I’d never seen before, and who didn’t even acknowledge my presence, set off, my mind wondering where on earth to.
A minute later I saw Andreas the driving instructor coming in the other direction, sitting in the front passenger seat with a student driving and someone else in the back. We followed. After curving up to San Ginesio, the student got out and switched places with the familiar woman from our car … and finally I got it – the third person in Andreas’ car in front was the examiner. As I found out later, the driving schools make appointments with the department of motor vehicles, and the examiner – who could come from anywhere in the province – shows up at a location that’s convenient for all concerned. This particular woman had driven a good 40 minutes from some way up the coast to be with us.
I was last, coincidentally driving a route through Colmurano and Urbisaglia that’s as familiar to me as any I’ve driven here. I was calm and confident, but had I known what happened to the familiar woman immediately before me I would certainly not have been – she inadvertently crossed into a turning lane slightly too late, going over the solid line instead of the broken line as she did. It was the only mistake she made – failed.
Andreas and the examiner talked through the entire duration of my test, and it seemed as if the examiner wasn’t even paying attention to what I was doing. Whether she was or not ends up being somewhat immaterial, at least now it does, because she passed me, and I can now proclaim with dubious pride something that I never thought I’d say – I’m officially “an Italian driver” …