Rome, a driver’s heaven? You must be kidding!
Creativity in action.
Here in Rome you can drive slowly or fast, have a crucial conversation on the phone (while driving), give yourself the right to overtake cars on the right (forbidden in Europe) or even use the emergency lane if that means you will get home earlier.
If there are no Polizia in view, you could even consider running a red light. Why not? Traffic laws only exist here to be modified by your mood and creativity.
How to survive the chaos.
When driving in Rome you become part of a giant, living organism. You are immersed in a stream of cars that is like blood swirling through veins. Add to the mix hoards of scooters zigzagging between cars, and you get the picture. Is it daunting? Yes.
Is it doable? Absolutely. Here’s the unspoken code: one for you and one for me.
Sometimes you go first and a little later you give priority to the cars next to you that are waiting to join the flow. It’s a continuous game of give and take, whether you have priority or not. Every move has to be synchronized with your fellow drivers, just like a tango. Be generous, but not naïve. If you get the knack of it, you will have a heaven of a good time driving here.
Traffic becomes very fluid. It’s completely different from any other major city in Europe such as Brussels or Paris, where every single driver mutters: “It’s my priority! I don’t care if you have to wait for an eternity. To hell with you!”
My rebellious side cherishes the way the Romans drive. Good old judgment is required. And so is your intuition.
Stay out of hell… Some more tips.
Be daring and proactive behind the wheel. Never hesitate! Your indecisiveness will exasperate the Romans and you will be rewarded with a symphony of horns and whistles as well as irreverent gesticulations. Yep, I’ve been there.
Avoid the morning and evening rush hours, or see your therapist to learn the latest relaxation techniques. Even better, choose the Metropolitana. I take the Metro for my daily commute to the Vatican. It’s fast, cheap and reliable. As long as you don’t take into account the predictable monthly strikes, of course.
Unless you have a baby in the backseat that needs rocking, beware of all the potholes in the roads after the rainy winter season. You might develop an expensive relationship with the tire repair shop.
Forget about having access to the old city in your rented car. You don’t. You need special permission that is not given to foreigners. Take a taxi instead. They’re not that expensive, but make sure you ask for an estimate before you get going.
Are you game?
Believe it or not, I have actually become a better driver while living in Rome. According to the locals. Obviously.
So do you feel ready to take on the Roman traffic? Do you think it sounds more like hell? Leave a comment or share your experiences below.