Happy birthday to all riders who celebrate in November. Happy birthday to IHR member Bob Moore, Gold Hill, Oregon. Happy birthday to Gene “Taz” Thompson in Hidden Valley Lake and to Joelene Downey in Midland, Oregon. Happy birthday to Lompico Lyle, Monterey Bay Confederation of Clubs and founder of Ghost Mountain Riders MC. In Santa Cruz, happy birthday to Debbie Downey, Dennis Grazian, Bud Gussman, Lisa Racine Heekin and Terry Swinggi. Happy birthday to Samuel Martinez in San Jose, and happy birthday to Rusty Barter in the Stockton H.O.G. Happy birthday to snowbird Charles Atwater, and happy birthday to Pete Gallager in Bend, Oregon. Happy birthday to Dave Silva in Danville, and happy birthday to Cuck Matheson, Toni Marshall, Sam Fernandez, Kenny Mann and Kathy Lukachinsky in Solano County. Happy birthday to celebrity rider Robert Patrick… Buon giorno! If you read last month’s column, you may remember that I have been out of the country for a while. I was on a grand tour of Italy, and it was awesome. The first city I visited was Rome, and one of my first impressions was of the unique parking style of cars and scooters. Some cars and scooters were parked partly on sidewalks and sometimes in pedestrian crossways in intersections. I even saw in rows of parallel parked cars, if two cars left a space, another car or a scooter would park nose-in between them. Double parking was common on some of the wider streets. It is rare for a parked vehicle to get a ticket because the police know what the problem is. But if you get a ticket, you simply put it on the next car. I later learned that there are one million cars in Rome, and there are 600,000 parking places, but I was also made aware of Italian philosophy. Bottom line, Italian philosophy is that rules are really suggestions. However, there is a difference in philosophies between cars and scooters. They are very careful drivers, but car drivers go when it is safe, and any opening will do. Scooters have only one rule: Go! Although he was joking, one Italian man said that if a group of Berliners were to try to drive in Rome, traffic would become a gridlock. While the Italians drive creatively, Berliners obey every rule of the road. Space is at a premium. Roads are very narrow, and many of them are cobblestone. One road that I was driven over was so narrow, steep and twisty that vehicles had to alternate to go around bends in the road. I was told that it used to be a burro trail. I believe it. More than once, I thought I was walking on a sidewalk when a car let me know that it was a roadway. But because of the sheer number of vehicles and the tight quarters, there are great numbers of scooters and cars are small. Fiat is by far the car of choice. There are no pickup trucks, no private vans and certainly no motorhomes with tow cars. Cities have buses, but don’t get on one because no one knows where they are going. And, of course, there are tour coaches. They are not as big as a city bus, but still tour coaches cannot always deliver tourists to the door of the hotel. They often have to park as close as possible, and tourists walk from there to the hotel. I said that there are countless scooters, but a motorcycle is rare. I did spot three Harleys. One was parked among the scooters at the Vatican and two passed the coach on the freeway. While riding on the freeway, I noticed that semis are different than the ones we have here. The cabs are small. They have no nose out front. The front of the cab is built like a bus. The driver sits above the tire, and there are no sleepers. I thought the trailers were the same size as ours, but they are probably smaller. There are no 18-wheelers. They are, without exception, 10-wheelers. Many tunnels are used. In cities, tunnels are just shallow enough to keep cross traffic moving. But tunnels on the freeways are a different story. Almost all of Italy is mountainous. Tunnels are cut through mountains to help traffic get from point A to point B. One tunnel I rode through was 5 kilometers long. In Northern Italy there are two tunnels through the Alps connecting Switzerland and France to Italy. These are about 12 to 16 kilometers long. I did notice that there are plenty of call boxes on the sides of freeways. They are marked SOS on a bright red background with white lettering. Rest areas are about every 30 miles. They are nothing like our rest areas. Covered parking is provided for cars. Then the building is often two stories. Inside is a cafeteria and a snack bar/deli and merchandise store. There are always tables and chairs inside and occasionally outside as well. You have to know that I can talk for hours about the historical sites that I visited. I loved Italy, and someday I hope to return. Well, hey! I threw a coin into the Trevi fountain so it is entirely possible. Until next month, arrivederci. Ciao!