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There has not been time to post fascinating entries about Life in Italy because of the time-gobbling demands of Learning to Drive in a Foreign Language (foreign to me, that is).  To make up for it, I have added two recipes on the right (Fish in the Ligurian Style and Adriana’s Fruit Torta) and have added to the Driving School Diary in Elaborations.

Above you see my present nemesises.  These four lads sit behind me and chatter away through each lesson.  Professoressa Elena intersperses her lecture with many a  “Silenzio!” but to no effect.  These guys have a lot to say and it’s all really important and can’t wait 30 minutes until class is dismissed.  Evidently it is all hysterically funny, as well, because it is all punctuated with frequent snorts and giggles.

The Italian word for ‘chatter’ is wonderfully onomatopoetic – it’s ‘chiacchiera’ (kee-ah-kee-yehr’-ah), and that’s what it sounds like behind me during driving school classes. I’m not really grumpy about it, to tell the truth.  I remember giggling for about 4 years running when I was their age.  In fact they seem like really nice kids. I just wish it weren’t so distracting as I try to focus on what Elena is saying; my problem, not theirs.

The text for the driving exam is 250 pages long. I think it’s kind of pathetic that the first book I’m reading in its original Italian is the Driving Manual, rather than, say, The Divine Comedy or the poetry of Montale. I have managed to read 200 of the pages; what lies ahead?  First Aid – that will be fun!  I have already learned from practice exams that we do not want to peel cloth off burn victims and that we do want to immerse their limbs in cold water if possible to alleviate pain.  I can hardly wait for my first accident!  Then, last but hardly least, there are the engine parts – that will be a sort of maze for me, I think – there are lots of parts that run with oil (brakes, engine), and other parts that run with water (radiator, window-cleaning), leaving out gas for the minute. Fortunately the questions on engines are rather basic, and Elena has already told us that any question including the words ‘change the tire pressure’ is false.  A useful clue.

Let me leave you with the most interesting thing I learned in my reading yesterday (insurance (which was incomprehensible), and driving under the influence (equally dangerous in any language)):  we really do not want to get behind the wheel of a car if we’ve just eaten a heavily spiced meal, or one heavy in fats or fried foods.  Who knew?