Driving In Rome - A Survival Guide
Feel like a spin through trastevere? Round the Colosseum, and back down the Lungo Tevere. Sounds fantastic doesn't it? Think again. Forget stopping for a brief photo, unless you plan on boarding the plane on a wheelchair.
If you insist...
What you're going to need.
- A basic knowledge of Italian swear words. Ao, ma Vaffanculo! Learn the basics. Bear in mind that Italians will ignore most obvious traffic signals. Order of passage is decided by the size of your car (Don't bother renting a jeep, I'll explain later), the amount of people IN said car and how aggressive you are. Simply inching forward without looking at people is not enough. You will crash. Wielding your arsenal of bitter sounding swear words will work. Stare them down, be the wolf. Use in conjunction with:
- A basic understanding of body language and hand-gestures. If Rome were to suddenly become mute. it would be business as usual. Roman (and Italian in general) hand signals make the official hand signal language look amateurish. You must learn to support your plethora of swear words (feel free to improvise, its largely expected) with hand gestures. The finger is considered banal. The so called, gesto del ombrello, or umbrella, is very popular. To execute, place you right hands palm on your left elbow (on the bicep side) and flex.
- Balls. Do not back down, do not stare,simply drive. Ask yourself, "whats the quickest point from A to B", and do it. Disregard lanes, they're irrelevant.
- Eyes like a Fly. The above point is of course not to be taken literally. Your aim is to appear that way. The truth is, any given lane is divided by 4. Two cars, two motorini (mopeds), failure to adapt will result in honking.
- Plenty of I.D. I'll speak from experience. You will need you drivers license. Insurance. Your rental car papers (and package containing il ilbretto di circolazione). This will guarantee you will not end up in jail. Rome is civilized after all. But if you will take my advice, bring a truck-load of important looking I.D. Being an intensely bureaucratic capital, the more paper the better. The more paper they have to sift through, the more time to enjoy the coffee, the happier the police will be.
- Luck. Sometimes collisions cannot be avoided, If you have a history of, "why me?", brave the sporadic and packed public transport.
My Life In Rome Blog
Some personal ideas and advice.
- Parking. If you find parking in Trastevere on a Saturday night. You're doing better than I am. Parking de-liniated by blue lines is supposedly "guaranteed paid parking" the idea being that if you can't find parking you can also grab a blue-liner. In theory at least. The reality is such that blue liners have become yellow liners. (Disabled spots). If you park in a disabled spot and leave a note, apparently, ITS FINE.
- Rent a small car. You won't be moving otherwise. Believeme!
- Tripla Fila. Doppia Fila is the term used to describe when a person parks next to a parked person. Rome is unique in its TRIPLA fila culture. Once again, its fine. Two people will never get out, but its fine. Let them honk.
- Remember. Rome follows different cultural rules. If someone scams you, you're the idiot. Smile, and return the favor.
I wish you the best of luck in Rome. If the prospect of driving here appeals to you, you're in for a hell of a ride, and truck-load of fun.
See you soon on the streets, I've got a swear-word lined up, solo per te.