There's nothing more stress inducing than driving down a country road in Tuscany and having a car come up behind me and take tailgating to a whole new level. I take a look in my rear view mirror and see the crazed look in the eyes of the driver behind me. It doesn't matter that I am driving the speed limit, what matters is I am in their way. I don't know whether to pull over and let them pass, drive faster or just ignore them....They get even closer. I can see spinach in their teeth. I'm starting to sweat. I just want to take in the view of the Chiana Valley and the rolling vineyards around me but am now clutching the steering wheel and cursing under my breath.
But as I take a closer look I realize the person driving behind me is as old as my grandmother and she's not giving up...she's going for the pass.
I look at my watch and realize it's almost 1pm, time for pranzo...lunch.
Everything shuts down at 1pm...this meal is taken very seriously...but what comes after pranzo is even better, nap time.
I've come to the land of the afternoon siesta or pisolino...and I love and worship this time of day.
But back to the driving....what makes a reasonably calm and happy Italian turn into a crazed lunatic when they get behind the wheel of their car?
There's obviously not the threat of road rage here....because driving like this in the States would never fly. I feel like there should be a warning sign at the airports in Italy: If you are planning on driving in the States, do not tailgate...it's a safety precaution. Americans don't take too kindly to having you drive up in their space and give them the 'WTF' look.
I guess what I've learned from driving here is... ignore my rear view mirror, don't break quickly and stay off the road between 12:30 and 1pm.
The 'WTF' look