Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Driving in Italy, July 2000
It was our honeymoon. In Italy. (The last time I used my passport, a long time ago.) My husband is a native of New York City, not naturally at home in cars, so I had been doing the driving around Northern Italy: to Lake Como, through Bassano del Grappa and the Valdobbiadene wine region, up to and back from Cortina d’Ampezzo at the edge of the alps.

We were on the last, short leg of the driving part of our trip, about to surrender our rental car to spend our final honeymoon days walking and being ferried about Venice in the vaporetto waterbuses.

My husband had witnessed my driving for a week and declared himself ready to take the wheel, now that we were on the flat lands and relatively wide roads of the southern Veneto.

We were entering a traffic circle, or so my husband thought, and, as we had been specifically admonished at the car rental counter that in Italy traffic in a circle ALWAYS has the right of way over traffic entering, my husband was looking exclusively to the left, at the other traffic in the circle, and ahead to where we would be exiting.

He did not look to the right, no need in a traffic circle. But, ah, we were not in a simple traffic circle, but rather a traffic circle BISECTED by a highway, which, naturally, had the right of way.

So my husband was not looking to the right, did not see the tiny “yield” sign, nor the semi bearing down upon us at full speed from that direction. It missed us. But the small car behind it did not.

It happened just like in the movies, the slowing down of time and our reflexes; the ear-shattering crunch, the bone rattling grind, the grand clashing and crashing of it all. Fortunately for us, the impact point was well behind the front seats we were sitting in, the empty rear of our car sustaining all the damage.

We pulled over, shaken but unharmed. There is a long story here of all that happened next, too long to tell in this flash moment, but I will say this:

Everyone was uniformly kind to us, from the young woman driving the (totaled) car that hit us, to the car’s owner, her boyfriend’s father who stayed with us to help translate to the Carabinieri. Well, It didn’t hurt that I would waggle my finger back and forth between my husband and I and intone the one phrase I knew well in Italian “Luna di Miele”(honeymoon) as the Italians are quite a romantic people.

And also? In Italian, the term for car accident is “incidente d’auto” – “incident” in English, versus our “accident” conveying a vast difference in attitude. Accidents require responsible parties to be determined, blame to be laid, while incidents… just… happen.

In due course, the Carabinieri and tow truck from the rental company arrived. There was much standing around, and then retelling of the “incidente.” By the time we arrived at our hotel in Venice we were bone weary and famished, but happy to be alive.

In a vaporetto in Venice on the last day of our honeymoon, July 2000
Maybe the saddest part for me is that we lost a roll of pictures (yes, children, this was back in the old days of cameras running on film) as I had stashed our most recent shot roll in the glove compartment and forgotten to retrieve it in the aftermath, so a few days of our honeymoon disappeared from the photographic record forever.

A small price to pay for escaping from the crash with life and limb intact, nothing lost but a few hours of our time, our insurance deductible, our dignity, and... the notion of my husband ever driving in Europe again.

This post was inspired by a prompt at Write on Edge. This week's RemembeRED assignment was to write a post inspired by the word "Crash." It was supposed to be a 10 minute flash writing exercise, but I must confess I bent the rules a bit. I have never written any of this story down, and I just really needed to tell more than 10 minutes worth. Sorry.

Please click on the button above, go to the link-up and read the other wonderful posts you'll find there.

Also linking this up to Love Links #34

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