Roman drivers have the same attitude to a painted crosswalk that the wild animals had to the chained criminals in the Colosseum. It is nice having one’s prey all in one place.
Crossing the street in Rome, with or without a crosswalk, is an act of bravery and faith of biblical proportions. The guide books suggest that a pedestrian begin by stepping onto the road (thereby announcing the desire to cross the street) and then, after enough time for the drivers to recognize your intention, start walking across the road.
You will notice the lack of intervening details like “wait for the cars to stop.” This bit of information is missing because … the cars will NOT stop. The cars will time their passage to go around you as you are crossing so (and this is the part that keeps the adult diaper companies in business) do not slow down or speed up when crossing the street.
If any modern-day writer wants to retell faith-testing bible stories using modern metaphors, Rome is the place and rush hour is the time. A writer’s ink need never stop flowing.
As you may have gathered, I took the girls to the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus a few days ago and we walked there and back. Walking there was a relative breeze because it was about 1:00 pm and the streets were relatively empty. Our route also crosses the main road where there is a crossing light. This is something that does not mean that there are no cars driving across the crosswalk (because there are cars turning, and so on), but these cars are much slower and there seems to be a general agreement that pedestrians are acceptable at these times.
The Colosseum is impressive. The scale of the building and the engineering effort is very difficult to comprehend. The mass of the structure is enormous. It is hard to imagine structure on PEI existing 2000 years from now and it is hard to imagine the Colosseum not existing in another 2000 years. Time and tide (and sulphuric exhaust) will not doubt prove me wrong and it, too, will crumble. For now, it is beautiful in its ruin and I admit to loving it in the most clichéd and tourist manner.
After the Colosseum, Robin, Sarah, and I went to get a printout of our boarding passes for the flight to London on Monday. It was a quick walk to Mailboxes Etc. (yes, they are in Rome) where four pages were printed from a USB stick for €1. A completely disinterested (she barely looked or spoke to me the entire time–her body language was a muted ‘meh’ in my direction) lady pointed to the machine spilling our pages and we picked them up, folded them into Sarah’s bag, and with a grazie were out the door.
We decided to go home via the Forum (the Colosseum ticket also permits access to the Forum) but it was closed. Instead, we continued along the Via di San Gregorio to the Circus Maximus and from there to the Baths of Caracalla and then back home. I just wanted to look at these places rather than visit as the Circus Maximus is just a field and the Baths are too much to see in a hurry but are very large (25 hectares). This walk was one of the most stressful I have ever taken.
It was about 4:00 pm so the traffic was not full mad. It was very busy and crossing the roads was something I will never forget. Hand-in-hand we ventured across six lanes of traffic that was moving in both directions and contained motorcycles splitting the lanes. At one point, a police car (one of the many types of police–not sure which ones) honked at us to hurry up as it wanted to rush through the intersection. This was approximately 5 lanes into an 7 lane crossing. To their credit, neither girl complained or panicked. They have become seasoned travelers and I am as proud of them as I can be.
The last street crossing was from the right-hand side of Vale delle Terme di Caracalla to the right-hand side of Via Druso. I am including the map below to give an idea of the complexity of the crossing. We came down from the top of the map on the Vale delle Terme di Caracalla (we were on the side of the road that is on the left of the map below) and had to cross the tangle of lanes and roads to end on the Via Druso moving up to the top of the map on the right-hand side of the Via Druso.
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