Before we arrived in Italy, we had agreed that I would be the driver on the trip and David would navigate. We really didn’t have a choice. David’s epilepsy had been unpredictable, and just six weeks before we departed for Italy, he’d had a cluster of seizures. His doctors didn’t want him driving for a few months until they were confident his new mix of medications would control the seizures.

We also had no choice but to rely on Google maps for directions, having never been to this region of Italy, and knowing nothing about the tiny hill towns we would visit. But even though we had settled on these roles before leaving home, the first few drives were tough, and we were completely unable to communicate effectively with each other. After some raised voice “discussions” about which way we should go, we finally figured out that we read maps entirely differently.

David preferred to look at the map in the direction we were traveling, meaning to follow the arrow the direction we were going. I think of maps in terms of north, south, east, and west, and the “upside down” maps completely confused me. To add to our difficulty, David would often be looking around at the scenery, taking a photo out the window, or trying to find information on his phone about some fortress or ruins he had spotted while I drove. He would be so distracted that he didn’t notice when a turn was coming, and I’d miss it. If I asked to look at the map, he was insulted, thinking I didn’t trust him to be the navigator. We would be living together 24/7 for nine weeks and it would be miserable if we were to fight like this on every drive. Thankfully, the Google Lady solved our problem.

David found a car mount for the phone, and we connected the phone to the car’s Bluetooth. On our first ride with the new set up, we found that not only could we play the Bossa Nova Spotify playlist we’d discovered during our lunch at the lake through the car speakers, but the Google Lady would interrupt the music every time I needed to make a turn, with just enough advance notice for me to exit. This left me to drive with the peace of mind that I’d be told when and where to turn, and left David free to gaze out the window. She was better than a marriage counselor.

But unfortunately, the Google Lady wasn’t always right. We had driven to Caiazzo, just north of Naples, specifically to meet Franco Pepe, the winner of best pizza in Italy and the subject of a Netflix documentary. We plugged in the address of Pepe in Grani since we’d be staying at Franco’s B&B above the restaurant and followed the Google Lady’s directions right to where she was telling us to turn. Unfortunately, she wanted us to turn left down a three-foot wide, very steep staircase that led to the front door of the restaurant.

Since that wasn’t possible, we continued straight through town and looped back around to a small parking lot just a block before the stairs the Google Lady had sent us to. I parked the car and read all the parking signs. It cost one euro an hour to park there until 8:00 at night when it would be free until 8:00 the next morning. I put enough money into the machine so the ticket read 10:00 the next day, figuring this would give us enough time to have some breakfast before checking out. I slipped the parking biglietto on the dash and off we went to enjoy our nine-course pizza tasting dinner.

The next morning we stopped to chat briefly with Franco, who happens to be a doppelgänger for David. We raved about the pizza from the night before and took some pictures together near his pizza oven—David looks like his shorter brother in those photos—before rolling our suitcases down the block to the parking lot.

When we arrived, we found the local mercato in full swing, with several produce stands, a fish monger, and a bunch of older Italian women selling household items. Our car was parked in the very center of all these stands, and I had to do a ten-point turn, with everyone staring, to gently maneuver the car out of there without hitting anyone or knocking over any stands.

Against my better judgment, I decided to give the Google Lady another shot. David was on a mission to visit the hilltop fortresses and castles that we kept finding in every town we visited, and the Google Lady said to take Via Castello up to the castle on the hill above Caiazzo. As I began driving up, the cobblestone road kept narrowing. We pulled our side mirrors in thinking this would help, but eventually the road ended at a chained off section with a sign saying private property—there was no way to reach the fortress just past that private house.

There was also no way to turn the car around, so I was forced to back down the narrow street. Our car had with a rear-view camera so it was easy to go straight back, but eventually I would need to turn the car—I couldn’t back up all the way to the highway—so I would be pointing in the right direction to leave Caiazzo. My mind was playing some visual trick on me and despite David trying to guide me, I kept turning the end of the car in the wrong direction for the corner. Frustrated, I decided to do a multipoint turn to get the car turned around instead of continuing in reverse. As I did so, I dragged the front bumper badly on the pavement and chewed up the gears yet again, leaving David to once again cringe and shake his head. I wanted to scream, wanted him to understand that I wanted him to take a turn driving as much as he did, but that just wasn’t possible on this trip.

I drove straight down to a private parking area in front of a couple of homes where I could turn more easily, but the minute I started to head out from the parking area, a car came towards me. She pointed behind me—right, this must be her house I thought—and I pointed forward, hoping she understood I was trying to get out. She was kind enough to move out of my way so I could pass behind her and I waved in thanks.

After our time in Caiazzo, we spent the week in Salerno, enjoying the spring temperatures in that seaside town just south of the Amalfi Coast. We had arrived there from the northeast, but since we needed to head southwest to return to Rionero, we’d be taking a different route home. I plugged our apartment into the Google map, clicked start, and waited for the Google Lady to prompt me.

The beginning of the drive was easy enough, taking us along a divided highway through Campania towards Basilicata. About 45 minutes in, the Google Lady said to turn left. The only thing on the left was a tiny gravel path, so I thought she meant a left coming up, but when I passed the gravel path, she instructed us to make a U-turn. David and I looked at each other. “I’m game if you are,” he said as we both stared at the path. He was always game, I mused to myself, knowing I was the one who needed to tackle the drive. But I wanted to share his sense of adventure, so I turned the car around and headed onto the gravel path.

For the next 30 minutes we drove up this steep gravel and dirt path, clearly meant for horses, cows, goats, and farmers—not cars—until we eventually reached the top of a mountain across the ravine we had driven through. I parked the car so we could both get out—the 360 degree views were incredible, but was this really the best way to get from Salerno to Rionero? Wasn’t there an actual road?

Not far from the summit we connected back to a paved road and then onto the highway and arrived safely back in Rionero. As soon as we got inside, I checked the route on my computer. Basilicata, I found, didn’t have as many connecting highways as other regions, presumably because it was just too sparsely populated to warrant the investment in infrastructure. Had we taken the highway all the way home, the journey would have taken us ninety minutes longer. The Google Lady was right after all, and I decided to trust her instructions going forward.