Italians love to get their food and drink on. If there was any doubt in your mind regarding that generalization, let me cement it in actuality.
On our journey back from Siena to Florence, in the Rental Car From Hell, we needed to stop and fill up the tank, as is requisite in most rental agreements. The attendant came out to pump (there is no self service option in Florence) and my friend and I headed into the main building to check it out. Inside, we stood, awed by what presented before us. Under magical, saliva inducing lights, stood a bakery (with five dozen varieties of delicious pastries and candies), gelato station, barista and…wait for it…a full bar.
I’m not exactly sure what the drinking and driving laws in Italy are, but clearly they’re quite lax. Sitting along the bar, happily chatting with the bartender, drinking their beers and munching on biscotti (it’s not just for coffee, folks), were five guys, in varying degrees of age and drunkenness. This new found knowledge would come to clue us in during the melee of crazed drivers that greeted us upon the return to Florence. Maybe one needs to be blotto just to make it home after a long day.
When I first moved to Nashville, I was surprised by the drive-through liquor stores but now I know it’s not such a novel thought to combine motor vehicles with alcohol consumption, as they’ve been doing it all along in The Old Country. Come to think of it, maybe that old drinking expression is actually “getting shift faced” and what about the old camp song “The wheels on the bus, go one more round!” (between accents and the slurring, certain subtleties get lost).
The DMV (Department of More Vodka) makes total sense now…those people aren’t insane, they’re hammered. Cheers!