Sunday, June 28, 2009

italian roads

I almost lost my life today.

It happened on a short run rom the Villa Poggiale into San Casciono. The distance is short, about two miles, and the route from villa to city climbs the hill that San Casciono sits atop. The way up is not steep, winding left and right through the olive orchards and, now and again, past houses that butt into the road like the prow of a ship. Even when the houses do not narrow the roadway, the olive trees grow right next to the road. The road is narrow. At its widest, the road can handle two cars and then a little bit more. At its narrowest, cars stop to allow one to pass when two would not fit.

I said that I almost lost my life.

I was running along the road. I was on the left side facing traffic, the way my mother had taught me. All of the sudden, speeding along toward me was a car - sporty, short, and fast. European cars are built that way so that they can hug the corners of the small roadways like a Grand Prix racer. This car coming at me was like one of those racers, cutting the edge of the road so that he could cut down on the distance of his turn by an inch or two, and, in doing so, he came within six inches of me. I flatten myself against the hedge that grew along side the road, as he sped on and on.

Bicyclists seem to have no problems on these same narrow twisting roadways. But then, cars treat them with respect as if each bicyclist was in the Tour de France. Runners are not treated the same. Runners on Italian roadways are aberrations. They are like deer, fair game.

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