Driving the narrow streets of Italy

Old Italian towns are famous for their narrow streets and steep hills.  Many of these towns, built centuries ago, were never constructed with the intent to accommodate the vehicles that would eventually become our major form of transportation.  Carpanzano is one of these very old towns, with streets so narrow you can outstretch your arms and almost touch the buildings on each side of the road.

It becomes almost like a game, as I walk along the streets of Carpanzano and in the distance I can hear a car coming towards me.  I quickly look around for a doorway or side street I can duck into so that the car may pass.  There isn’t enough room for the both of us.  There are times when two cars come face to face; one driving up the steep narrow street towards the Piazza, while the other driving down the same steep narrow street is on his way out of town.  There is an unwritten rule; the driver who can move out of the way with the most ease will move to allow the other to pass.

And, I can’t help but giggle, when my cousin in his bigger-than-average for Italy car, has to fold in the side mirrors, in order to squeeze through certain parts of the town.  In these moments, you become very aware of the strange juxtaposition of this very old town and the modern day technologies that never quite fit into it, and yet somehow, the townspeople find a way to make it work.

So, how exactly does one navigate through streets like this…

narrow streets of Italy
Narrow street in Carpanzano (CS)

or this…


Narrow street in Carpanzano (CS)

Well, I was killing some time (procrastinating) on Youtube and found this great video.  It was shot in Altomonte, a small town north of the City of Cosenza, similar to many of the small towns you will find in Calabria.  This is a perfect example of what it’s like to drive through the narrow streets of these ancient towns.  They were lucky, they didn’t seem to find themselves in the path of an oncoming car.

So tell me, would you attempt to navigate the narrow streets of small towns/villages in Italy?

  1. margieinitaly

    July 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Great video of the reality of navigating Italy’s narrow streets and alleys!

  2. Clover Autrey

    March 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    That was amazing video. I’m researching what the streets are like in Italy. Thanks bunches.

    You’re welcome! 🙂

  3. Peter @ italyMONDO!

    September 27, 2009 at 4:03 am

    Too funny… the video a great!

    Yeah – I [fortunately and unfortunately] have to drive these streets every days. Most of the time it’s actually fun! Then there are those days you find yourself on a tight one-way street, I’m going the wrong way, and I have to go in reverse uphill with 6 inches of room to work with a cliff to my right side. lol (then it’s not as fun :-P)

    I have always wanted to drive through the narrow streets, but most of the cars in Italy are standard and I have no idea how to drive standard…that would be a cliff-dive waiting to happen!! 😛 It amazes me when people have to reverse up a steep hill with people walking, stray dogs, other cars….all in this small little space. Drive safe!! 🙂

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