This fantastic picture of traffic in Rome shows what it means to drive in Italy and battle the streets of its capital city. The picture comes with news that Italian actor Max Giusti has joined forces with the “Coordinamento dei Motociclisti” association of Rome to get special lanes dedicated to motorcycle and scooter traffic. The aim is to provide a safer environment for scooter riders in Rome - and seeing this image, it’s probably something that needs to be done.
Italian drivers might have a bad reputation overseas, but I’m going to say they are the world’s greatest parkers of cars I’ve ever seen. I have seen vehicles get into spaces you never thought even a motorcycle would fit. But in the case the car really won’t fit, most Italians will leave it at angles, sticking over pedestrian crossings, corners and footpaths.
I have never had the pleasure of driving in Rome but I imagine it to be a very tense experience and one best left to battle-hardened locals. In these pics of driving and parking in Italy, we see the Roman minivan drivers get away with anything in their daily challenge to actually make deliveries and get to the next job.
We understand from our colleagues at 06blog.it that even on asking them to move the van, most drivers with yell something in Roman dialect, which varies from “I’ll only be a minute” to “I’m not just playing around here”, which we take to mean: “I’m working, and you?” See all the pics from the love-hate relationship between locals and their minivan drivers.
If you want to throw yourself into the jungle of Italian traffic, but be environmental while you’re at it, the Milan transport system has introduced an electric car sharing scheme for the city. The scheme is in its teething stage at the moment with just 20 electric cars and five recharge stations available at the Cadorna train station in Milan, but more recharge points and electric scooters are also planned for the future. Cadorna is a strategic location in Milan being a large train station that connects Malpensa airport to the centre of the city, and the initiative has been created through cooporation between the Trenitalia-LeNord and A2A railway companies.
The electric vehicles included in the scheme are a mix of Fiat Panda and Fiat 500 models, along with Teener models which can be driven without a licence as they’re registered as motorised cycle vehicles. The cars are available for use and can be driven across a range of 70 km, after which they need to be recharged (via a normal power outlet) at a cost of 50 cents. With increased recharge points, more locations in the city are planned, with possible expansion of the program to other towns across the region.
If the trend takes off, the plan is to have 40 car sharing locations by 2013. After a trial period, customers have to subscribe to the service at a cost of 100 euros a year. While not expensive when distributed over the year for those using the service, many will probably opt out based on this cost. For subscribing ticket holders to Trenitalia-LeNord, a year of free service is being offered. Customers can use the service from 8am to 8pm.
Source | 02blog.it
Driving in Italy wouldn’t be complete without experiencing Rome’s traffic and laissez faire parking rules. In the following gallery of pictures from Italy you will see everything from a police car occupying the pedestrian crossing, to multiple large and expensive vehicles taking up the footpath space. While they’re not all luxury vehicles, most of them are which firstly begs the question as to why anyone would want to risk their BMW on the streets of Rome, and secondly whether it’s rich people who have no sense of sharing civil space in a crowded city…. When in Rome!
Vespa hire in Rome is enjoying a boom time as tourists seek to relive the famous scenes from Roman Holiday - the famous film featuring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. The Hollywood actors have been immortalised in the photo and scene of the famous tour of Rome on a Vespa and the image now lives in the minds of many who visit the Eternal City.
Many hire companies have borrowed the image of Peck and Hepburn, one of which is promoting vintage Vespa tours of Rome, but with driver (I wouldn’t trust me either driving the streets of Rome with a vintage model). A tour can take about three to four hours and you can get to see some of Rome’s hidden streets that aren’t accessible to general city traffic. Other hire operations offering tours with the original Fiat 500 or even an Ape - Piaggio’s famous three-wheeled truck.
While the tour companies will tell you that Rome wasn’t designed for cars and taxis, but for carriages and Vespas, you can expect to pay modern-day prices. Anything from 130 to 150 euros a head for a trip around town on a Vespa seems to be the going price. If you want the real thing though, and a priceless image of popular culture, see the Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn famous Vespa scene in Rome after the jump.
If you thought normal driving in Italy was scary enough, you’ve never seen the legendary Stelvio Pass. It has been voted one of the world’s craziest roads by Travel and Leisure magazine, among ten roads the world over which are likely to give you goosebumps or travel sickness or both.
The Stelvio Pass construction started back in 1820 and is one of Italy’s highest Alpine passes, with 48 hairpin bends and many other corners to boot. When open in summer it is a favourite among motorcyclists and wannabe rally car drivers, not to mention the location of one of Italy’s Giro d’Italia rounds. Yes, that’s right - some people actually do this on a bicycle…
Photo | Flickr
Being romantic in Rome could involve a horse and carriage ride around the city, but these days you’ll find your driver is more restricted in where he can and can’t go. The tradition of horses in Rome and their carriages called “botticelle” dates back to the days when they were used for the transport of wine barrells throughout the city. The barrells are known as ‘botti’, and the carriages get their name from this very purpose. After a battle has been waged between environmentalists and the tourism board, new rules now govern the use of the horse and carriage for tourists wanting to tour Rome.
Horse and carriage owners must now include a numberplate on the vehicles, and must not travel streets that are too steep to avoid the horses getting tired. The animals are not supposed to work more than eight hours a day. The university of La Sapienza is even studying the possibility of using a kind of electric cart which would be lighter and easier to drive.
The “botticelle” can only travel the pedestrian zones of the city centre, and the tourist districts of Trastevere, Testaccio and villa Borghese, with a few more streets exempt from the absence of horses: via Vittorio Veneto, viale Trastevere, piazza della Repubblica, via della Consolazione, via dei Fori Imperiali and via Petroselli. Other streets have seen horse and carriage traffic banned, included via Barberini, Crispi, Quattro Fontane, della Dataria, salita Del Grillo, via Panisperna and via San Sebastianello.
In addition to this, horse and carriage drivers have been offered the opportunity to swap their licence for a taxi driver’s licence. If that is a more convenient option, we could see the possibility of touring Rome by horse and carriage disappear. In the words of Lando Fiorini, protesting the move: “Let’s keep them [the horses]. They’re part of tradition - let’s ban the cars instead, maybe.”
Photo | Flickr
For the Italian language, or Italian English, we’ve already seen the creative and sparky side of the Romans come out with their “clients gentile” funny photo. Here we have another example, but for something far more serious - parking in Rome. While driving in Italy is bad enough, parking is even worse.
This sign is a true example of Italian genius - a work of art in how to get your point across, finally. The creator of the sign is a shop owner in Rome who was tired of people parking across his shop entrance in Trastevere. This picture has become famous, travelling the web and finishing in newspapers and on t-shirts.
The English part, you guys can happily read. For the Italian part the translation would go something like this:
For everyone else you have really pissed me off. Sunday open.
Only that the “pissed off” bit is far far more vulgar in Italian. We’ll explain another time, but for other examples of Italian swearing, see our introductory video. In the meantime Ivano has kept his sign, this time on the inside of his shop but is thinking of putting it up for auction. We get the feeling he may have more than one interested purchaser!
The things some people will do for a parking space in Italy! This is a four minute video of a woman attempting to park a car in Naples (I gather from the accents but don’t ask me to translate the Naples dialect) filmed from some guys standing above on a balcony. Very funny stuff - you’ll have to watch the video to see what happens. And just so you know, driving in Italy is never complete without a little abuse and dramatic Italian gestures on the side.
Source | Video4Viet
There’s nothing like Italian invention in the world, which always seems to be geared towards out-foxing the authorities. If you’ve ever driven through Italy, you’ll know the Italian parking laws are quite complicated, and the ways to avoid them even more so (see our post on tips for driving in Italy).
This is what we call a “disco orario” which is a kind of inbuilt parking meter that you display on your dashboard to indicate your time of arrival. Now, I would suggest that anything in Italy that relies on honesty and good will from the outset is likely to be unsuccessful, given that most Italians want to out-manoeuvre their fellow countrymen first.
The “disco orario” normally works by turning the little plastic dial in your cardboard sign to the hour in which you park and leaving it on your dashboard. This one, however, has a convenient in-built clock that will tick over of its own accord even when you’ve delayed your visit to the market, or are in the midst of happy hour with your friends.
Apparently this is a genuine Italian product and if you wish to purchase one before your next tour of Italy by car, you can find it on e-bay. One guy commenting though, has said he copped a 200-euro fine for using it so… everything at your own risk.