Dear Art Lover,
At this time of year, most of us start looking already to the new year and often, what we would like to improve about our lives. Well, besides healing, my challenge in the beginning of 2018 will be to take and pass the driving tests in Italy and receive my first Italian driver’s license [patente di guida]. After stopping at the CUP to receive an appointment for my next risonanza magnetica [MRI], I stopped again by the driving school to get current information about the fees and class commitment.
If the Italian laws and expenses for driving a vehicle do not interest you, please scroll down past this section to look at some art!
It used to be that Americans in Italy could legally drive using our American driver’s licenses. Well, no more. I am not sure when exactly the law changed, but I believe it has changed since I started coming to Italy in 2004. I also do not know why it changed, but it could very well be the fault of the US government. Most countries have reciprocal benefits on things such as that, as the US and Italy used to do. So, someone here suggested to me that if the US changed its policy allowing Italians to drive in the US with their Italian licenses, the Italian government may have rescinded benefits to Americans in Italy. I just do not know. I am more concerned with my reality.
Now, I do not know the law for an American tourist, and if you plan to visit and want to drive while you are here, it might be worth a 15-minute visit to your local AAA office and buy an International Driving Permit. No tests, just present a valid license, let them take your photo, and then use it with your regular license while abroad. Note: YOU may choose the start date of validity. The permit lasts for one year. Oh, and when I lived in Croatia, I met a man from Slovenia who had lived in California for more than ten years. He said that he found out the hard way that in Europe, the only recognized International Driver’s Permit issued from the USA comes from AAA and no other company. Also, I have not verified. I give this to you so that you know what questions to ask that may have never occurred to you. I never wanted the car life style again, frankly. I was happy with my bike and legs in Florence. However, I am far happier living in the hills away from the conveniences of city life, so… it is always something.
So here is the information for at least Americans who want to earn an Italian driver’s license. Ready?
* You MUST present to the school before starting:
-- 3 photographs in the form of the permit [passport size, he said]
-- 1 marca da bollo [a tax in the form of a postage-type stamp you buy in a tobacco shop] 16 euro
-- 1 bolletino for 26.40 euro [valid for three months]
-- 2 bollettini for 16 euro EACH
[the bolletini are bills that must be paid at the Post Office with the forms that the man gave me]
-- Certificate of health from your doctor in Italy [valid for three months – that is optimistic, no?]
THEN: on a Tuesday at 5 p.m., go to the driving school for an eye exam, presenting all of the documents above [as paid] and your ID card, 30 euro
[It is the eye test that the doctor’s three month expiration date refers to].
Now, you are eligible to start the school before the exams… here are the rests of the costs:
School is three evenings per week. You must pay 180 euro to start. I asked when the classes start and this man said, “when you want!” I clarified, “but if I start this week and another person starts three weeks from now…. That works? Yes. Hmmm. The good news… you may stop and start the course as much or as little as you need for SIX MONTHS from the paid date.
[I am always amazed in Italy how many different answers you get from various employees. And if you do not keep asking questions (even ones you never thought to ask…why speaking to others in similar boats is always a good idea!), you may never know something important until it is too late. An example: The woman I spoke with at the driving school told me that the classes are 3x per week for SIX weeks. I think that is a very different commitment.]
Ok, note that one of your bolletini has a three-month expiration date, so if you go beyone three months, you may have to pay another 26 euro… and maybe have a new doctor signed form and eye test for 30 euro.
Once you feel ready to take the test, you have :
Written theory test : 170 euro
Physical driving test: 160 euro
12 obligatory 30-minutes of driving with instructor at 17 euro EACH = 204 euro
So, let us add this up. If you can pass the exam within the three-month time frame, and not counting any of your expenses GETTING to the driving school [my beef with them last year was that the earliest class starts at 4:30 p.m. and ends at 6 p.m. There is not enough time to walk from the school to the bus station to get on the very last bus that goes up into the hills [and that bus does not visit all of the ten hill towns in my area]. I asked her that without a license or public transportation, did they expect me to rent a flat in town while working to get this permit? Not just me, but ANYONE who lives distant… which granted is more likely to be a teenager with a parent who looks a lot like a taxi. How inconvenient!
5 euro – three photos
16 - stamp
26.40 - bolletino for three months
16.00 - 2nd bolletino
16.00 - 3rd bolletino
30.00 - eye test [with doc form]
180.00 - signing up [classes]
170.00 - written exam
160.00 - driving exam
204.00 - 12 driving times, 30 minutes at 17.00 each
823.40 euro.. which per xe.com at this writing means $967.67
[Oh, and this does not include the costs of the textbook(s). I got mine for free, but that is not usual. And no, I did not steal it!]
Validity of the license. Italians cannot get a license until they have 18 years. So:
Age 18-49: license valid for 10 years
Age 50-70: valid 5 years
Age 70-80: valid 3 years
Age 80+: valid for 2 years
Price to renew the license [for everyone] = 100 euro
Oh, and this is for the Patente B, the basic one.
And I have not even included the rest of the costs of driving.. the car, and the insurance. Obviously those costs depends a lot of your taste, your needs, and your desires to save or spend. I can tell you that I bought a 1997 Panda, a standard, small car and one you see often in my area. I was lucky. I posted a few questions on Facebook asking for advice on the kind of car a single woman with few mechanic skills could trust to buy. A friend of a friend that I had only met once or twice tagged me for a car listed on a selling site on FB in our area. My car had been driven by a woman now 90, but she only drove about 3 kilometers per day! Tires were in good shape, except for the spare. I paid 700 euro for the car, cash. My friend Paolo paid about 450 for the same car, two years younger, but it had a lot more miles on it and he had, I think, traded in his older model [or maybe had to pay to destroy his old one]. I would say, though, that I got an unusually good deal on what I hope is a reliable tool.
Now, I will share that the title transfer cost either 350 or 380 euro! Not the system used in the US! The selling price [or gifting option] is of absolutely NO CONCERN. The size of the vehicle or perhaps the motor is the only factor. So, motorcycles and scooters might be the only thing less expensive than my tiny Panda. Title prices went up on even a car only slightly larger than my baby. And even though we did this in an office, I also had to pay cash for the title… and then wait a week to receive it in the mail.
Insurance: I was told that because this is my first year in Italy, I will have to pay high insurance, just as a teenage boy might. Originally I received estimates from my landlord’s broker around 1400-1500 for my first year. The seller of the car also knew an agent and he wanted my business… so he quoted 1300. Piero, my landlord’s agent, apparently did not want to lose me. He came out to my home to meet me and speak to me. Perhaps my desire to drive little, working at home or a nearby quarry on occasion, and my acceptance of having a “black box” installed on my car, he quoted me a price just above 1000 euro. I had to wait a month and also put the charge on my credit card to postpone the payment for another month, but in the end, I paid just under 1000 euro.. I did not have the courage to ask why. And I do not know if next year, I will be told that this was my first year with the International Driver’s license and next will be a first year with my Italian license [finger’s crossed, you see], and therefore receive the same price. Oh, and note, that I always ask for the minimum insurance required by law. For those of you who want apple-apple comparisons.
The last thing I can think of for this riveting topic: Here the revisione [safety inspection] happens once every two years. My car’s expires in December this year, so I have not gone through that process yet. My new mechanic offers to look over a car and take it to inspection himself for 100 euro plus any part expenses. But I think if you do it yourself, the inspection is 67 euro.
Oh, and benzina, the fuel, is currently 1.49 euro per LITRE! 1.52 if you hit the other stations. But did I mention the cute Italian who pumps my gas [no, not a euphemism].
Because this is an art blog, I would like to share with you the only artwork I think that I have done with wheels in it [other than the collaboration I created with Simon Steele and Darryl Pottorf in Darryl’s studio back in 2011]. To be honest, I do not know much about this Confederate Hellcat motorcycle. It belongs to the model and is his baby. ‘Nice lines’ is as far as I understood about it. Oh, that, and it is a limited edition model, if memory serves.
The stone arch is one at of those at the famous Pitti Palace in Florence. I passed it every night on my way home when I lived in the Santo Spirito neighborhood several years ago. Stone, metal, and flesh: Nice, huh? If I may say so :-)
Detail images are found here:
Please contact me if you are interested in this artwork.
"Hellcat at the Pitti"
18" x 25"$2,200
charcoal with pastel
Magnani Vergata 160 gr
(handmade Italian paper)
© 2010 Kelly Borsheim
charcoal with pastel
Magnani Vergata 160 gr
(handmade Italian paper)
© 2010 Kelly Borsheim
[Framed with offset white mat, black wood frame, & Museum Glass]
[Order Giclée on paper
(Example: 24" long dimension giclée costs $275. Smaller sizes available.]
Be safe out on the roads, especially this holiday weekend, for those celebrating the American Thanksgiving.
Peace and thank you,
Kelly Borsheim, artist
P.S. IF original art, while affordable, is STILL a bit out of your budget, or the piece you adored has sold? Or do you like arty things in different formats, to surround yourself with art? Looking for a gift? See my store online for pillow, phone cases, shower curtains, towels, tote bags, and yes, even prints on metal, wood, canvas, and so much more:
Hi... that is perhaps helpful to some, so I will leave your link here. However, in Italy, the law is clear: After one year of RESIDENCY (not citizenship), no one may legally drive in Italy without the ITALIAN driver's license (patente).
Residency in Italia starts the day listed on your ID card.
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