On Driving in Italy

We've fallen into a sort of daily routine for our Spring Break in Sicily.  Lazy morning at home, load the car up around 10:00, go exploring.  Lunch on the fly and a bonus gelato stop when we need a morale boost.  

With very little English spoken, every step of this journey has been an adventure.  However, the most hair-raising and invigorating challenge has been driving in Sicily.

Coming from the land of big cars and big roads, you can imagine the excitement of navigating narrow Italian roads in our small Italian car.  

My wife posing with our Alfa Romeo.  Most likely right after a gelato stop.

My wife posing with our Alfa Romeo.  Most likely right after a gelato stop.

Navigation has certainly been a challenge.  We've tried to use Google Maps but found that either a) the good people at Google don't have "improve road database for Sicily" very high on the priority list, or b) Google's attempts to give you the most direct route between two points just is not Sicily-friendly.

We have often been turned on to dead-end roads, roads under construction, even roads with cattle on them.  Even under the best conditions, we're usually asked to drive on roads like this, with little room for cars or even people.  And certainly not both at the same time.

Can you fit an Alfa Romeo down this road?  With pedestrians thrown in the mix?

Can you fit an Alfa Romeo down this road?  With pedestrians thrown in the mix?

We are learning the very European practice of navigating to towns instead of roads.  So instead of "following the road map" and taking the A29 to the SS113 to the riserva, we follow the signs to Palermo, then follow the signs to Trivata, then follow the signs to the pizza place.

(No kidding, the directions to our house actually include the phrase "and then follow the signs to XXX XXX Pizzeria.")

As an investor, you often use a "road map" of sorts to figure out your investment plan.  For example, you may look for certain types of companies with these characteristics at this point in the business cycle.

The problem is that when the environment changes, and your strategy is no longer working, you need to have the flexibility to figure out what will work going forward.

How do we understand when the environment changes?  Situational awareness.

Pilots are trained to pay attention to what's happening both inside and outside the cockpit.  This allows them to be ready for anything that comes along, and they are unlikely to be caught unprepared.

I have a series of charts that I review every day, every week, every month.  They show me what's working and what isn't, and help me understand what's happening in the global financial markets.

Eleven S&P sectors rotating around the benchmark.  Notice the defensive sectors on the left side, showing renewed strength over the last four weeks.

If you don't have a consistent routine for reviewing market performance and screening for investment ideas, it's sort of like driving through the towns of Sicily without looking out the window.  Sure, you might be successful.  But chances are you'll get into trouble at some point!


Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as financial advice.  Please see the Disclaimer page for full details.