Why don’t more Italians take the bicycle to commute?

While Cart and I were passing the Lakeside MRT station, we both saw a most interesting sight – it was a double tiered bicycle stand and it made us so intrigued, we had to stop and look closer.


I liked how rather space efficient it is. You could put twice the amount of bicycles in the same amount of space. I remember some years back, the area would be all full of bicycles, haphazardly strewn around. This looks so much tidier.

We were puzzled however, on how it functions though. Are you supposed to lift the bicycle up on the second tier yourself? That sounds challenging for me, considering that a regular bicycle can weigh about 10 – 20 kg.


It was only later that we found out that you could pull and slide out a lever to the ground where you could just push the bicycle in. Genius! And I think it’s free to use too.

There is also an interesting way how bicycles are parked in Japan, which I really like. Here is a video explaining about the process. It’s about 4 minutes long, but I was so impressed the entire duration.

The service is not free, but the good thing is, the bicycles will be protected from natural elements such as rain, and also the risk of thieves running off with it.

I really like that there are so many people around the world that use the bicycle to commute. I think it’s a very cost effective way as well as a very healthy way of travelling. It’s not only an Asian phenomenon, but also in certain European countries such as Finland, where Juli was at, not too long ago. And she told me how almost everyone there cycled everywhere.

I don’t really see much of this in Rome though. Not to say that there isn’t, there are. But the amount is minuscule. It seems that most prefer to commute using cars or scooters. I don’t even see kids and teenagers using bicycles to get to school. Instead, the vehicle of choice (apart from public transportation) would be a 50cc scooter or a those 50cc microcars.


It probably has got to do with the frequent strikes that we have in Rome that makes people lose faith in taking public transportation. Or perhaps the risk of bad weather in Autumn and Winter.

I myself don’t have a bicycle as I travel a significant amount of distance, which makes a scooter (or the car when it is raining) more practical.

Nevertheless, I’d love to have my own bicycle (one with a pannier would be ideal) at least for going around the neighbourhood, getting some groceries and whatnots – it doesn’t seem to make sense wasting petrol just for the sake of getting some milk and bread.

In any case, I see more and more people in my neighbourhood each day, taking bicycles while going around. It’s a good sign.

This car comes with a complementary Italian family

I’ve loved the Fiat 500 since the first time that I laid my eyes on it. Isn’t it the cutest thing? I’d love to drive one.

Fiat 500 Polizia - rinaz.net

The above is a vintage though, and the last one produced was in 1975. It has since evolved to the Fiat 500 Nuovo.


It’s one of my favourite cars at the moment. It is updated with modern technology and yet retains the cuteness of the older generation.

I would have gotten one after getting my drivers license but for the price. Even as a second hand, it was still quite pricey (although incomparable with the price in Singapore) so I got something more affordable and as a new driver, I wouldn’t feel too bad if I made dings and scratches with it.

Anyway Fiat came out with a new version called the 500L. Basically it is a longer version of the car with 4 side doors instead of 2. I’m not in love with it, because it doesn’t have the charm that the regular 500 has.


Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you an advertisement that I saw recently. It’s too funny!

While the Italian family speaks Italian well enough to be credible, it has so much Italian stereotypes, but in a good, fun way :p

Tell me if you’re not freaked out in this situation

While Rome is a challenging place to drive – what with the lack of parking areas inversely proportional to the amount of impatient drivers. There is a specific area in Rome that tends to freak me out more than other when I drive in it.

Visualise driving in a residential area where practically everyone fights to get parking space. So they tend to drive extra fast when they spot one without caring for anyone else.

Now visualise you are driving (from left to right) and crossing this zebra. And there are cars (plural) parked on the zebra crossing, blocking your view. So you can’t see if there is any incoming traffic. So you inch closer and closer to see if there’s anything …


And then VOOM! A car rushes in at high speed, narrowly injuring you. Wouldn’t you freak out too?

Anyway, just for fun I’m embedding this video of 3 car racers in Italy because this is the right way how it should be done 😛

After a year of getting my driver’s license

It’s been a year now that I’ve had my driver’s license.


Since getting my car somewhere in June and driving it, sometimes I still feel that incredulous feeling of, “My goodness, I’m actually driving!” but lately, it feels quite second nature, I don’t even think about which pedals to push, changing of the gears … it just comes naturally. And I’m surprised at how relaxing it is, just to drive down the road, listening to music and to see the scenery pass you by.


Not to say that I’m such a perfect driver – I still need to improve my parallel parking, have to calm down while going uphill in bad traffic and have the mental skills of not letting an Italian man distract my driving.

stickrinaz and stickcart

Heck, there are people who refuse to take lifts from me anymore, but that is fine. Sometimes I get too carried away in wanting to share something that I enjoy or am excited about, that I forget that others might not feel the same, so I shouldn’t have insisted. Perhaps it’s a better idea to not offer anything unless it is asked for … although I still get clueless in deciphering what is in people’s minds when they don’t speak out.

(Seriously, I cannot tell. You’d have to tell me or else, I have no idea. Neither do I have a gaydar, so much so that unless he’s super flamboyant, every dude is the same to me. But that’s totally diverging away from the topic of the day)


Which is why, I’m leaving my Principiante sticker up, possibly for another 6 months to make it a full year. Somehow it gives me a peace of mind that the other drivers see it and avoid being too close to me as I’m still a new driver. Nevertheless, there are still monsters that cut me off, and bumped into me but I imagine that there could be more instances like these without my sticker. I did good in getting a used car. What a heartache if I had damages on a new one!

Nevertheless, I’m kind of happy with my achievements so far (think of it as a game!) … I’ve unlocked

  1. Driving in Rome! (5 points)
  2. Driving in Rome … alone! (10 points)
  3. Driving my family around Rome … and they are still alive! (15 points)
  4. Driving on the highway in Rome alone! (10 points) (bonus points for doing it 3 times)
  5. Getting impatient with slow drivers (-5 points)

Here, I should do a self pat :


Nevertheless, I still prefer taking my scooter as it’s a lot more economical – with the fuel consumption, the tune up costs, the insurance and whatnots. While having a car is freaking costly. Just last week, I had a flat, and decided to have all of them replaced as they were ancient. And for that, I had to spend 265 euro on new shoes for Ash.


You could just imagine how dry I feel this week, that on top of having to pay for the Sports doctor.

In any case, I was debating with Cart, that it might be cheaper to get the wheels online. But if you do that, take note that there is an additional charge for delivery, the mechanic will charge you extra and did you know that one is supposed to pay a sum to have your expired wheels disposed? Oh Italy, you are such an expensive country to live in. In the end, it’s much more convenient to have the gommista handle everything.


You know, if I didn’t have the car, I think I would have an additional more than 2 thousand euro in the bank (not including the amount I already spent for driving practicals and exams) To me, that’s a lot of money and stuff I could potentially invest on (like I really wanna learn how to sew and I really wanna travel around and explore Italy and eventually Europe on a train or even get a plane ticket back to Singapore … I really miss my folks and friends much too much)

Nevertheless, I think having the experience and skill overweights the odds, and is something that is quite priceless. Looking back, I don’t think I’d change a thing. Although I’m quite tempted to sell the car away somewhere in the middle of next year, once my insurance starts to expire :p

Scooter on strike

And so … Sam the scooter decided to go on strike over the weekend.


He started to have ignition issues a couple of days before, but as he tends to do that during colder days, I just ignored it. Normally after a few revs, he’d be back to normal.

In any case, I normally bring him to a monthly tune-up at my regular mechanic which is roughly a 20 mins journey away from home. Unfortunately he but didn’t make it on the day that I wanted to take him there. Which is quite an irony. And now I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what to do with Sam.

Poor stickrinaz can’t go scootering anymore

I guess I could get him fixed at a mechanic which is closer to me, but ones in my neighborhood seem to only fix cars, so I guess I’d have to find a towing number and pray that they don’t charge too much (personally, if they charge more than 40 euro, I think that’s a cut-throat)

Days like these makes me wish that I knew some basic mechanics like changing the spark plug and changing the engine oil so I don’t have to deal with all the fuss. I’d like someone to show me (with simple, non-threatening words)

At the same time, I’m quite thankful that I have my own car to travel with. True, my car isn’t the newest model with all the latest gadgetry. But it gets me around. And now that the weather is getting colder, it’s a lot more comfortable going around in a covered vehicle.


Last year, before having the car, many times I’d reach home with my hands completely numb from the coldness, even after wearing leather gloves when travelling on the road. Despite all this, I still had to travel to work, which is why I think this was probably the reason why I kept getting strong sickness. At the point, I thought to myself, “Never again!”

Nevertheless, I still much prefer two-wheelers for getting around. After all, it’s a lot easier to find parking this way (which for me, is a huge stress) and consume less fuel and is cheaper to upkeep. Which is great for quick trips. Personally for me, it doesn’t really make sense to take the car just for the sake for grocery shopping.

I hope that Sam can be fixed by the time spring comes. If not, or if the costs doesn’t justify, I guess I’d have to think of other alternatives. A Kymco Like200i perhaps, or maybe I’ll just get a bicycle with a pannier and save myself from all this heartache.

I got robbed!

URGH!!! I’m so annoyed, I could beat someone up!

Ok, so it’s not really so dramatic. But it’s very annoying when trying to do a left safety check when on the road and you can’t take a glance to see oncoming traffic.

If you don’t know what was stolen from me, take a look at the picture below.


See, the left mirror was unscrewed cleanly right off. It wasn’t a job done by a juvenile delinquent, but someone who had the intention of stealing it for himself. What a terrible surprise to see in the morning!

Urgh! Of all the scooters, he had to target mine! He couldn’t take the other two abandoned scooters which was right next to me -_-

At this point of time, I’m tempted to just attach my hand mirror as a compensation. It’s just about the same size anyway.


Yeah, I know it’s quite low-class and getting a replacement isn’t that expensive, but it’s just the principle, you know?

Le sigh!

Prices of fuel has almost doubled in two years

I’m not sure for the entire Italy, but in Rome, on Saturdays and Sundays, there is a discount (about 10% off) when you fill up your vehicle. By the way, you could also find the cheapest fuel prices through this awesome website.

So anyway, I was feeling a little cabin fever so I took the scooter out for a spin and took the chance to fill it up. As it was the weekend, I saw plentiful of cars queuing up at certain petrol stations.


To my horror, I saw that the prices were significantly more expensive compared to just a couple of months ago. About 1.8 euros per litre! I remember my first trip to Rome and the prices were more or less about 1 euro a litre. Now, it has almost doubled!

Is there anyone frightened of this?

While I do own a car, I don’t use it that regularly, so the price increase doesn’t affect me that much as my main form of transportation is the scooter.

Nevertheless, during the times when I do fill up the car, I’m always stunned at the evident jump in price.


Of course, one of the best way is to go around is with public transportation. I normally park my scooter at the nearest metro station and take the tube when going to the city. One could reduce one’s carbon copy even more by commuting with a foldable bicycle from their start point.


It’s also a great solution as this way, one avoids having to search for parking. And believe me, it is extremely trying it is to find parking here.

Unfortunately, in Rome there are transport strikes practically every other week. Which is why I understand why there is an increase of car owners in Italy. Public transportation can be unreliable.

In fact, somewhere in the beginning of this year, it was just my luck that on the day that my scooter broke down, there happened to be a transport strike going on. I needed to travel about 23 km to go to work. It was one of the most stressful day for me in a long time.


(If someone suggests that I take a bicycle, I’d rather not. Travelling a minimum of 46 km during winter, carrying more than 5kg of materials and arriving half dead is not my ideal way of commuting)

Probably one of the compromise between high fuel prices and the unreliability of public transportation is to get an electric car. One of the brands that tweaked my interest is this adorable Smart electric.


I like it as it looks cute mainly but at the same time, it just makes sense as we only take about an hour for commute, rendering the car unused the rest of the day. So, what better than to leave it there to charge, so at the end of the day, we get back home on a fully charged car. Comparing it to fuel price, it costs only a few cents to run one kilometre.

However, while it’s cheap to charge the car, even with government funding, it’s still very expensive for the public to own and maintain it. About 24 K euro with IVA. And that doesn’t include the monthly amount needed to rent the battery (if I remember correctly, it was an additional 100 euro) That’s quite a big amount.

Which is why I quite like this new service in Singapore called smove.sg (thanks NTT for the link!) Rather than owning a car, you could rent an electric car and you’re charged about 30 cents (SGD) a minute you travel.

I’m not sure how viable it is for daily commuting though, as it’s still a little pricey (30 cents x 60 minutes commute x 20 working days = 360 dollars … but if you carpooled with another 3 more passengers, it would bring the monthly price all the way down to 90 dollars a month! That’s cheaper than 4 people spending money on a monthly ATAC ticket.

The thing is, I haven’t really seen any services like this in Rome. Although companies have started to do so in Milan, Varese and Como and also in Napoli!

Hopefully something like this would happen soon too in Rome!

After a month of driving …

It has been about a month since I had Ash (can this be considered a mooniversary?)


For the first couple of weeks, I’ve been practising driving on the road with Cart next to me to give me advice. It feels kind of odd, and new and quite scary. Which I think was reflected a lot when Cart starts to shout ERRP ERRP ERRP! when he feels that I’m starting to go dangerously.

Mars Attacks
He sounds kind of like this 😛

Thankfully, he doesn’t do that anymore lately. Which means that I’m driving better. Yay! And that’s wonderful, because that sound really makes me feel even more stressed out.

I’ve even been going on my own for short distances in the neighbourhood. I feel really proud of myself. Yes, yes. It’s probably not a big deal as it seems that every Tom Dick and Harry (Maybe Tomasso, Ricardo and Aroldo in this context) are able to drive. But to be honest, prior to living in Italy, I never imagined that I’d be driving, much less own my own car. There just wasn’t a need to.

Anyway, recently a realisation dawned upon me when I suggested to Claire that we head to hydromania. (we didn’t go in the end, as I found out that I had to go for work training, rendering my coupons that I’ve valiantly collected, useless)

Anyone wants to go with me before the 20th July?!

To get there, it was a shorter path to use the highway rather than to use the residential road. I thought that I could make it, but Cart was worried and didn’t want me to go on the highway by myself for the first time.

And so, last weekend Cart and I went to the G.R.A highway. And I realised Cart’s concern. Oh gosh. It was really scary. Everyone were going really really fast. Like more than 100km/hr on average. As a new driver, I’m legally only allowed to go at 90km/hr at maximum. And since Ash isn’t new, the engine capacity isn’t powerful and acceleration is slow.

Oh! And another thing I noticed about Ash is that, it goes bumpy-bump and you could really feel the road when you go at higher speeds. But I think that’s an issue that city-cars seem to share.


So I felt quite nervous and sort of attacked when other cars start to go near me.

I think I’d prefer to avoid the highway as much as possible for now. Moreover it confuses me. Every sign looks practically the same to me. I’m completely confounded at where to exit! I think I just need to study the roads more. (Because, using GPS = Guna pun sesat)

To end, I’ll embed this really funny animation about driving in Italy

Sidenote : I still go out with Sam the Scooter. It’s just so much easier to find parking. Moreoever he’s cheaper in fuel consumption. Any way to save money