I don’t drive in Rome. I’m a supporter of public transport. But mainly it’s because I’m too scared. It’s not entirely the fault of Roman drivers. I admit it; I’m not a great driver at home and a worse parker. So here, how would I survive? I picture myself at the wheel driving round and round, becoming increasingly hysterical trying to find a parking space large enough to drive into (I haven’t reverse parked a car since my driving test).
Usually, I won’t hold with such feebleness, but I’m going to allow myself this shortcoming. Driving in Rome is just a step too far for my nerves. I’ve been told you get used to it. You toughen up. You learn the rules of the road. But what rules? I once read that a red light here is merely a suggestion.
During my first trip to Italy in Pisa we were stuck on an approach to a roundabout desperately waiting for an opening that never came. The driver eventually closed his eyes, pressed the accelerator and hoped for the best. Fast, frenetic, cars are far too close, there’s no lane discipline – my other half says the white lines (if they exist) are there purely for decoration. I’d be dead in a week, if only from the stress.
There are junctions that you approach and I would have no idea where you were supposed to, or were even allowed, to go. There seems to be a mysterious traffic light function which conveys an ‘everyone just do what you bloody well want’ message that is only understood by Italians.
The British Foreign office has issued this helpful (?) video for holiday makers when driving on European roads. I was hoping for some useful pointers. Instead, I got what I hope is a tongue in cheek generic guide reminiscent of public information films of old.
And if you’re going to do spoof driving information videos, this is still my number one. I’d say it reflects my fears about driving on Roman roads rather well.
Remember – WOMEN for pity’s sake – DON’T DRIVE!