Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Quest for a Non-Stick Shift

I am forced to find a car to rent with an automatic transmission because I can't put any weight or pressure on my left leg for another month or more. This rental purchase has been no small feat.

The reason why I need a special car is because buses won't get me where I need to go. Even though Europe is known for better public transportation than in the US, my area is not one of the best examples of how the system should work. The Veneto consists of several small, medium and large centers that have vast areas of development between them, including residential areas and industrial parks. When you are travelling, it is really difficult to see where one city district ends and another one begins, for this reason. The people of the Veneto decided to build out and not up (like New York or even Lombardia and the example of Milan).

The problem is connecting all the dots from all of this development. The individual cities have only drafted connections going from main outskirt areas, all toward the downtown area: example--from Noventa to downtown Padua. This is fine for students who all pool into the city center area, but not often for professionals like me. I need to get from my house to the industrial area and then out to another suburban area on the other side of Padua, all on a typical work day. To do so with public transportation, I would find myself on 2 different bus lines with 2 different fees and ticket offices to get to each destination. In total at least 4 buses a day. Travel times can reach one and a half hours to go 15 miles just to get to one of these destinations. Needless to say, I cannot consider public transportation to get to work these days. But I can't drive my car either because it is a stick shift. It requires two working legs.

So began the quest for a rental to get me through my recovery period.

And do you think it's easy and reasonable to be looking for this service around here? Well, of course not. We're in Italy and just about anything other than locating great wine gets complicated.

After phoning 10 rental car agencies, I found most places with time limits of no more than a 29-day rental period. Those must be designed only with tourists in mind. Or the ones that require a long-term rental of 2 years or more, designed for company business cars. And all of them didn't have any low-end cars available with an automatic transmission. Only luxury cars like Mercedes and Audi could possibly fit my request. "Davvero?" I replied. If only I was paid more to afford a luxury car....

Why is it so impossible to find a car with a non-stick shift? I always knew it wasn't very popular here in Italy. but NOTHING? Come on!

Well, in the end I finally found and settled on a SMART car. It's the best deal I could get, while still quite expensive. I'll be picking up a black two-seater called FORTWO just 2 days after my cast comes off. People say it's really fun to drive. Maybe like a very fancy and powerful go-kart? I will finally get the thrill of driving a truly tiny European car, yet I never really was interested in that, but that's OK.



  1. Reading this post I was going to suggest the Smart For Two to you :)

  2. Picked it up yesterday! I feel quite independent now.

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  4. I forgot to mention that it's good to hear you're on the mend! Enjoy the SMART car: they look like fun!