A shorter story today, and sadly, no photos to go with it. I admit that “Rules of Engagement” is a bit of stretch for the name of this post, (“Rules of the Road” would be more accurate) but it’s what came to mind when I was thinking of a title.
Anyone who has been to Rome can confirm that traffic there is significantly more chaotic than what you find in the United States, or even most of the rest of Europe. There are few traffic lights, fewer pedestrian crossings and army of scooters that are a law unto themselves. Crossing the street at times requires you to be more assertive than you’re used to, and demands a bit of courage. I tried to discern what the rules of engagement (I just did it again; using the spicier term rather than the accurate one) were during my stay in Rome earlier this year, and the only thing I could come up with is that as long as a vehicle does not hit anyone or anything, and likewise a pedestrian is able not to get hit, anything goes.
One of the days I was in Rome I was riding on a bus to get to somewhere (I think it was the Vatican). During the ride I noticed a scooter weaving in and out of traffic. That itself was not memorable, but what was striking was what the motorist was doing while driving. This person was steering the scooter with his right arm, talking on his cell phone (being held to his ear by his right shoulder) and with his left arm was doing the stereotypical Italian hand and arm gestures. No one, in bus or in the other cars on the street, seemed to notice or care. This was not the only time I saw seemingly outrageous things on the streets of Rome, but it was easily the most memorable. I was told that the roads are even crazier in southern Italy. Later on in my trip, when I was in Austria, I told this story to some other people. An Austrian guy said something back to me in garbled English. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I think it was something along the lines of “yeah, those crazy Italians.”