Tag Archives | pope

Do I Need an International Driver’s Licence?

One thing that the Fighting Couple loves… international driving.  We get asked lots of questions about the infamous “International Driving License.”  What is that?  Do we need one?  Do I have to pass a driving test?  Do I have to own a Ferrari?  What if we get pulled over and don’t have one?  Will we spend a month in a Russian Gulag if we don’t get one?  Where does one get an International Drivers License?

Do I Really Need an International Drivers License?

First off, Lets define what this is and isn’t.  First off, you cannot buy an International Drivers License.  You can buy an International Drivers Permit.  This is an important difference. Candidly, an International Driving Permit is a collection of your driving and identification information translated into ten languages.  It must be accompanied by your government issued driver’s license to be valid.

Italy policeHow did the International Diving Permit come to be?

The whole International Driving Permit movement came into being on Nov. 8, 1968 with the signing of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.  The treaty outlined the duties of drivers from foreign lands visiting their respective counties.  It spelled out what is contained on the permit.   Over 70 counties signed on to the treaty.  Notable counties that did not agree to the treaty: Japan, China, Israel, and the Holy See (forget driving that Pope-mobile.)  Each of these countries have special requirements for foreign drivers.  Please confirm the regulations before you book a trip to Japan or other non-signatory countries.

How do you get one?

Getting an International Drivers Permit….It’s really pretty easy.  Each participating country has their own procedures to acquire a permit.  We will give the low down on both the USA and the UK.  If you know the procedure for another country, would you give us the process in the comments section below?  In the states, there are two non-governmental agencies that issue the permits:  the American Automobile Association or AAA (http://www.aaa.com/vacation/idpf.html)  and the National Automobile Club NAC (http://www.thenac.com/idp_faqs.htm) .  Both of their websites offer helpful info on the ins and out of acquiring a permit.  For our good friends across the pond in the UK, you can visit your local AA (http://www.theaa.com/index.html).  (That acronym has a little different meaning here in the states.)   You are required to have passport style picture fixed to the permit.  A driving test is not required.  A current and valid driver’s license issued by the state is required.

Speaking of international driving….Have you checked out our Couple Road Trip Survival Guide?

Car Hires

So do I need a permit to rent a car?  Probably not.  We cannot definitively say no, you will never, ever need one.  We can tell you in our extensive travels in Europe, North & South America, South Africa, and South East Asia, we have never been asked for one.   In visiting with the major car rental companies, all recommended the permit.  Should you get one?  Probably yes.  It also gives you one more form of identification.

car hire

Should you get a permit? Mike says yes.

What if I get pulled over?

This is where the value of the permit really shines through.  You can’t select the language ability of the law enforcement that pulls you over.  Trust us, you definitely want that conversation to go smoothly.  Having an international permit can be the difference between a ticket or not.  Most permits cost $20ish USD.  Why not have one?  The Fighting Couple has had two run ins with the law whilst traveling.  We admit it.  One was passing in an “unmarked” passing zone (Mike still thinks he was in the right one that one) and on another occasion we did not have the appropriate sticker on our car (again Mike’s fault.)  Both of these occurrences happened in non-English speaking Euro zone countries.  We were not asked for the permit.  We of course had to provide our insurance and USA issued driver’s license.  During the entire experience…not once were we asked for an International Driver ID.  Crazy huh?

So that’s the skinny on international driving permits.  Avoid the hassle, and buy one before you head out.  We would love to hear from you on this topic.  Have you been pulled over abroad?  Have you been turned away from renting a car?  Leave us a comment below.  Do you have any questions about an international drivers license?

Discovering the Seven Secrets of Rome

We understand that there will be something happening in Rome in the coming weeks?  The focus will be on one of our favorite fighting destinations, Rome.  Home to gladiators, Popes (including a new one,) painters, and poets, a stroll around the Eternal City of Rome is an adventure in itself.  We want to offer you some of our secrets, and some of the off the beaten path sights to take in while in Rome.

rome church

Santa Maria Del Priorato

Secret Rome Keyhole

For our first secret of Rome, head to the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, wander around to the back side of the square, there you will find the church of Santa Maria Del Priorato.  Find the door leading into the church.  Peer through the small bronze keyhole in the gate.  Spoiler alert!  As you gaze through the small hole you will see perfectly framed by trees and scrubs, the Basilica of St. Peter.  It is truly a sight to behold.  It is difficult to fully describe just how beautiful and unexpected this view is.  We highly recommend!

 The Holy Fun House

Our next stop on our adventure is the Rooms of St. Ignatius, located at Piazza del Gesu 45.  This is the former home and monastery of St. Ignatius.   He actually designed and built the rooms and corridor.  This honored Jesuit had his important vision of service to God and Church in these hallowed halls.  Don’t miss seeing the patron saint’s shoes in the display case!

Sometimes called The Holy Fun House, the entire complex holds wonderful examples of perspective painting and distortion in art.  Flat walls seem to transfigure into flying buttresses!  As you walk down the corridor the walls truly seem to come alive!

Protestant Cemetery

Not all of the holy sites in Rome are related to the Catholic Church.  In one of the most well-kept cemeteries in the city,  the Protestant Cemetery, you will find a couple of interesting internees.   Both John Keats and Percy Shelley are buried here!  The walls of the cemetery are actually the walls of the “old” city.  They held out fierce attacks from the barbarians for more than 100 years.

Rome Fountian

Trevi fountain

The Secret Perch

Our next adventure takes us to the Vatican.   It is a little known fact that you can actually go up in the dome of St. Peters!  The trek is not for the faint of heart.  You must climb 200 stairs to the elevator that takes you to the top.  For those wanting the further challenge, they can skip the elevator and take on another 300 steps to the top!  The vista is truly one of the best in all of Rome!

The Underground Wonderland

Just like peeling the layers of an onion, the deeper you journey into the bowels of the Basilica of San Clemente, the more you learn.  The “new” part of the church was constructed in the late 12th century.  It includes beautiful art and mosaics.  Take the stairs down and you enter what was a 4th century church!  As you wander around this subterranean church, take in the amazing art etched into the walls.  Continue your quest by going one level lower, into the deep.  In the very depths of the building, you will find a 2nd century Mithraic Temple, complete with altar!  The entire structure exudes history.  The Basilica is still undergoing excavation.

What will they find next?

Rome-The Italian Hollywood?

It’s no secret that Rome has been captured on film over the years.  What is stunning is the sheer number of films and genres that feature the city.  For those of you that want to retrace some cinematic magic, we tracked down some of the locations from a few films.  Of course you want to travel like a Hollywood Starlette but dont have the budget?

Oceans 12: Airport scenes were filmed in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

Eat, Pray, Love:  Piazza Nabona

The Gladiator:  Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix were filmed in Coliseum.

The Talented Mr. Ripley:  Cafe Dinelli: The terrace cafe, where Ripley arranges for Meredith, Marge and Peter Smith-Kingsley to meet up was filmed in Piazza di Spagna.

And of course how could we leave out:

Roman Holiday, a separate category on its own.

Joe Bradley’s apartment was filmed in Via Margutta 51.

The bench where Bradley finds the Princess asleep  was filmed in Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Mouth of Truth was filmed in Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

The Final Secret

This one is up to you!  You must find your own secret in the city of secrets!  Enjoy Rome.  It is truly one of the most amazing cities we have visited.  The city is a perfect blend of history, architecture and of course adventure.  Enjoy Rome!