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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: August 23, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

    Veni, vidi, Ventimiglia

    Pól Ó Muirí

    Spent two weeks in the south of France, just a few miles outside of Nice – and very nice it was too. Admittedly, there was enough heat to pose a serious threat to this redhead’s wellbeing but I struggled manfully into the pool and have lived to tell the tale. I even managed to make a daytrip to Italy which was an education in itself. Borders are borders and bargains are bargains, it seems. We were speeding down the motorway in our coach when the driver began to talk about the low price of cigarettes in Italy and how many cartons each passenger was allowed to bring back. I had to pinch myself to remind myself that I was actually looking out at the Gulf of Genoa and not driving along some unapproved Border road at home!

    Even more hilarious was the French driver’s reaction to seeing how the Italians drove. No sooner had the Italian number plates begun to appear than he started “Mamma mia!” this and “Mamma mia!” that and the other coach passengers – mainly French – all started to laugh. I suspect there may have been an ironic element to their laughter. Surely, the French can’t be unaware at just how badly they drive? That little sign “give way” at roundabouts is obviously not a command but a recommendation to consider the philosophical possibilities of giving way, to think about giving way, to meditate on giving way but not actually an injunction to actually give frigging way.

    And as for Zebra crossings, they are not something that encourages the French driver to slow down but rather to speed up and to hell with all pedestrians. I especially enjoyed witnessing one cultural exchange when a tourist aimed a kick at a local’s car as it drove through the Zebra crossing on which he was still walking. Oh la la! The Italians, however, actually stop at Zebra crossings. Mamma mia indeed!

    Still, I finally got to Italy and the beautiful town of Ventimiglia, thus giving me the chance to utter the immortal line: veni, vidi, Ventimiglia.

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