by Melinda Gallo

Thinking about getting a patente di guida italiana

I suddenly have this desire to drive a car again. I usually only drive when I go back to the States and am so happy to drive up and down California to visit family and friends. But, at times it's exhausting as I feel like I drive the entire time I'm in the States. Now that Italy is more my home, I've been thinking that I should get a patente di guida italiana (Italian driving license) just in case I ever get the chance to drive. Because we live in the centro (downtown area), I have no need to drive. I don't even have a car, but a patente di guida italiana might be handy if I want to drive a motorino (scooter) as well since it's now a requirement.

When I arrived in Florence in 2004, I had an International driving license, which was valid for a year. I thought I would just renew it every year until I read somewhere that an International driving license is only valid if you're not a resident in Italy.

Today I met up with my girlfriend Marta in a piazza where there are two autoscuole (driving schools). Alessandro went to one of the autoscuole and the other one my friend Sarah went to. I had heard that one autoscuola was kind to stranieri (foreigners), meaning that they help more than usual.

After having a quick caffè, we walked into the first autoscuola and was greeted by a girl who rarely looked at us and rattled off a speech about the prices, corsi (classes), and what we need to bring to begin.

She told me that my told me that my California patente di guida is non-transferable, as some are from other countries, and is not even valid in Italy. I had already read that, but still had some hope that something would eventually change. So, now Marta, who has never even had a patente di guida in her life, and I would have to start out at the beginning together.

The girl explained that there is an esame scritto (written exam) and an esame alla guida (driving exam). I asked her about the esame orale (oral exam), which they used to allow people to take instead of the esame scritto. I had heard the esame orale was easier for stranieri (foreigners) but now that they have translated the esame scritto into many languages, they no longer offer the esame orale.

The prices were much lower than I had expected. I thought I would have to spend about 1000 Euros, but I was happily surprised when we were told the price was around half that.

After getting all the information, we went to the other autoscuola to compare and liked the prices better. The girl who worked at this autoscuola was much kinder to us as well, which is an advantage.

Marta wants to check out a few other autoscuole, but my mind is already set on the second one. Alessandro also went to this autoscuola and he said that he had a good experience with them.

Because the autoscuola is closed in August, we might try to get our foglio rosa (pink slip) beforehand so that we can drive with someone who has had a patente di guida for more than 10 years. All we need to do is come by for the visita medica (medical visit), which consists of an eye exam and a hearing test, and pay the iscrizione (enrollment fee).

I'm looking forward to getting my patente di guida italiana, but not too excited about the many hours of corsi and at least one hour of driving lessons to take. Luckily, I already know how to drive a manual car, but I just need to know what is going to be on the esame alla guida.

The autoscuola also has a computer program to continually test ourselves before taking the esame scritto, so they suggest that we take the esame scritto only when we're ready. I have perused one book with all the road signs and their explanations and it doesn't look that straightforward to me. Luckily, the fee that we pay the autoscuola takes into account at least one bocciatura (failure) of either the esame scritto or the esame alla guida, but I'd hate to bocciare (fail) either one after driving for over 20 years!

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