20 August 2009

big cars in small spaces

There's just something about finding your own way and taking to the open road traveling cross country. I did just this in Italy one year not too long ago.

I rented by European standards a huge car: a Mercedes third row minivan. This is not an American minivan though, think half the size, but still large enough in case some won ton Italian driver side swiped me. Off I went.

I drove to the Almalfi Coast in search of the quaint mountainous towns I had seen in guide books. I was not disappointed. As I drove cautiously around hairpin turns overhanging the Mediterranean Sea, I understood: here the mountains meet the sea with surprise and I surely would as well if I was not careful. I would see a road sign often depicting a bugle circled with a red line through it. "No bugling." This wouldn't be a problem for me.

I settled into a sea view room at a tiny family run hotel in Positano with tiled floors and stucco terraces where over the course of the week, I was confided in by every member of the family including the fiance to the son about all their private matters. My favorite "meetings" of confidence held as I often crept home from being out and provided shots of cold Limoncello by the mother.

It was the day I drove down the coast exploring the towns of Almalfi, specifally Ravello that offer the most embarrassing part of my trip. Almafi went smoothly enough touring on foot their black and white cathedral, snacking on raisens wrapped in lemon leaves and buying my own bottles of Limoncello. My lunch target was Ravello as I made my way south. I saw many cars parking along the winding road leading up to the city center but as my visit would be short, I was seeking a closer spot to park. It was all going to plan until I had turn a hard right and found myself staring down a one way building lined road where an old woman on a bicycle pedaled alone turning a corner and out of site ahead. Now, I know these European villages and their one way streets. I'd be fine, I told myself.

I went forward slowly. After ten feet, the building to the left bumped out another foot narrowing this road even further. I played it safe and folded in the side mirrors. I hesitated a few seconds before pressing the accelorator. It was still a road for Pete's sake. I nudged the car a little further, but it resisted after only 10 inches. My front end was now wedged in between the buildings.

I sighed.

Face flush, I turned my head to look behind me. All I could see were four heads peeking around the corner from which I had just come, totem pole style.

In writing this story for you, I came across another traveler who experienced a similar day! Check out her post and more pictures from Almalfi!