I bought Rick Steve’s French, Italian & German phrasebook largely because it included that phrase, which means, “if you don’t slow down, I’ll throw up.”

Driving on the Autostrade (that’s Italian for “Autobahn” which is German for “place that swiftly separates the quick from the dead”) in the above pictured rental Smart ForFour (they were out of my first choice, the ForTwo – which has half as many seats and apparently about the same horsepower as its anemic big brother) I wished that Rick had included some notes on non-verbal inter-vehicle communication. On the A4 between Milan and Venice the left lane was a solid caravan of tailgating German cars hell-bent on getting to their vacation destinations on schedule at any cost. And the right was parking lot of eastern-european long-haul trucks.

“Se non le piace come guido, si tolga dal marciapiede” (“If you don’t like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk”) is a useful maxim for urban driving. Despite the ForFour’s shameful lower gears, after a while I was getting the hang of it and if not for my consistent use of turn signals I might occasonally have been mistaken for a local motorist in the streets of Trieste.