Saturday, June 27, 2009

italy, day 8  

posted by Michael Piwonka 9:20 PM
Unfortunately, our trip to Italy has ended. This past Monday was travel day, starting out with a hotel shuttle to the train terminal, a train ride to the Rome airport, an all-day flight to Detroit, and finally a second flight back to Charlotte.

We started out at 9am Rome time, and arrived home at about midnight local time (which would be 6am Tuesday morning in Rome).

We had managed to take every form of transportation we could find while in Rome (airport shuttle, subway, bus, taxi, hotel shuttle, city train, and high-speed national train). All worked very well.

Before we started this trip, we had decided that we wouldn't even bother to rent a car, having read about how confusing driving can be. Once we got there, it was clear that our decision was a smart one. Even though they drive on the right-side of the road as we do here, they definitely have different rules of the road than we do.

Drivers continually weave in and out of traffic, with little or no regard for the lane designations. Motorcycles and mopeds (which dominate the streets) appear to apply a simple rule: if there is room to slip by other vehicles, then it's okay. A two-lane street often has mopeds 4-wide, and that includes a car in each lane.

Once a car pulls up to a stop light, it is almost immediately swarmed by 2-wheelers on all four sides. Vehicles are continually swerving this way and that, attempting to cram themselves into any space that can accommodate them.

And then, throw in some pedestrians. Seemingly without hesitation, they walk into traffic as if they own the street. Without fault, all vehicles oblige; I never saw anything remotely approaching an accident.

But the most interesting part was that no one gets upset. Getting cut off in traffic isn't bad, it's just the way it is. The only thing that invokes a blast of the horn is if someone stops. Crazy weaving in and out is perfectly fine; just don't hold up this chaotic dance of vehicles and humans.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and would love to return. I wish I had spent more time in the Tuscany region. I would also like to visit the Cinque Terre. There's still so much more to see in Rome. The list goes on and on...

And then there's the rest of Europe. Should I even return to Italy again before taking in Barcelona? Or Paris? Or Prague.....

(To read more, here are links to days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the trip.)


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