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Driving Italian style

A while ago I posted a blog about driving in Italy. We have just returned once again from the region, but sadly nothing has improved, as this little tale will explain.

Three years ago we were spending a few languid weeks away from Suffolk, in Carmela’s home in Southern Italy. Situated 30 miles due north of Naples in the foot hills of the Matese Mountains, it’s a region that’s poor by our decadent standards, but far richer in the simpler things of life. I suppose the climate makes the obvious difference, with an extended ‘al fresco’ season stretching from April through to October, compared to our nine months of winter, followed by three months of bad weather. Although the locals are very house proud, nobody seems to bother with aspirational status hogging cars. Being a nation of crazy drivers sees to that. A few days ago whilst walking along a street full of parked cars in Naples, I realised that not one of the fifty or so we had just passed, was undamaged.

Just three weeks ago, Carmela and I were cruising at 95 in the mid-lane of the Rome-Naples auto strada, when a white Mercedes overtook us from the ‘slow lane’, swung across us and other vehicles, before heading off into the distance in the fast lane. All at around 150mph!

There’s an Italian apocryphal story that reaffirms that this style of driving is entirely safe: An Englishman accepts a lift from Luigi and is surprised by the Italian jumping the red lights in the busy town centre. A few hundred metres down the road the Italian again drives straight through red lights at speed. Our English passenger by this time has become a little uncomfortable. However, further down the road the Italian screeches to a halt. The astonished Englishman enquires why, with the lights set to green, he has stopped. “It is just in case my brother, Marcello, is driving the other way across town”.

by Roland Blunk, photo by Anon

Roland Blunk
I have been privileged in being commissioned by so many influential clients throughout my career, that I feel looking back, I was either extremely fortunate, too cheap or just in the right place at the right time! Having come of age before the computer, the possibilities for visual expression now seem almost magical, as we live our lives together with daily miracles and wonderment. I studied Art and Design in the mid sixties at what was then Hornsey College of Art, London. Life, after a series of drab boarding schools, was exciting to say the least. Jimmy Hendrix played upstairs at the Manor House pub, James Brown at Cook's Ferry Inn and Charlie Mingus at Ronnie Scott's, to name a few that added to the local distractions. Design and photography were skills learnt in their original pre-digital form. Slow, sometimes laborious, but wonderfully rewarding. My design clients have included: The Arts Council The British Tourist Authority The Institute of Contemporary Arts Arista Records The Manchester City Art Galleries The Design Council The BBC The National Portrait Gallery The Guardian Eversheds Solicitors The British Council The Opera Babes The Royal Shakespeare Company The V&A Museum Her Majesty's Stationery Office Island Records The Institute of Chartered Accountants Visnews Hoeseasons Holidays The Scottish Development Agency Sotogrande Haymarket Publications The Crafts Council I have lectured in design at major art schools in Great Britain and my work has been reproduced in the Swiss publication 'Graphis' annual, The 'Designers & Art Directors' annual and 'Modern Publicity' annual.