For some kids, like one of mine, churches and monuments in Italy are a real bust. My son lit up, however, when he spotted a Lamborghini or a Maserati. The funny, three-wheeled delivery vehicles were a novelty. He was amazed at the ratio of motor scooters to cars. So if you take a "car kid" to Italy, here are some ideas to keep him or her excited:
1. Make a list of car types. Some people may even collect different models!
2. Make a list of fast, expensive car types like Maseratis and Lamborghinis. Then keep a tally of the number you see during your trip.
3. While relaxing at a café near a busy street, keep count of different kinds of vehicles: cars, trucks, motor scooters, motorcycles, and three-wheeled vehicles you see in a certain period of time—say, 15 minutes. You can have each member of the family count one type and then make a graph of the proportions. If you like this exercise, do it in different places.
4. In large cities, regular commuters, all dressed up, drive motor scooters. Try to guess what their jobs are.
5. Italian license plates carry the code of the province they are from. If you are driving, you can collect as many different provinces as possible (the Italy Discovery Journal has a checklist).
6. You will also see cars from different countries sporting oval country decals. Collect as many as you can (also listed and decoded in the Italy Discovery Journal).
7. Why do you think a brand of motorcycle is called Vespa (Wasp)? Or, why is a tiny delivery vehicle is called an Ape (Bee)?
8. Parking can be very creative in Italian cities. Have a contest with your family to find the wildest parking space.
9. Instead of parking meters, you will see several different parking systems—some involve tickets, while others have little clocks on the dashboard. Figure out how they work and explain to your puzzled parents.
10. Two men can actually lift little cars. That is how some parking attendants get the most number of cars into their lots. Watch to see them literally juggle the cars.
11. Italian drivers are quite fearless; watch out. And watch for some amazing driving. Tell someone about it or write a description in your journal.
12. Italians seems to have a naturally dramatic character, and low-speed accidents do happen in cities. You may witness some high drama as the drivers confront each other verbally. Physical violence is extremely rare.
13. A kilometer is 5/8 of a mile. When you are driving, convert distances in your head and tell your family how far a place is in miles.
P L Byrne
Author of Italy Discover Journal
500+ Ideas for Kids Traveling in Italy