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Really, if you're not in any particular hurry, the best way to get around Rome (from a sight-seeing point of view) is on foot. A walk round Rome is obviously more tiring than riding the bus, but you'll see a lot more, and of course, there is an awful lot to see. You don't necessarily need a guide to Rome - ie, one of those people who lead tour-groups around - The city is a fabulously beautiful place and meandering through its streets exploring for yourself can be one of life's most delightful pastimes. On foot though you need to be wary of pickpockets and beggars (the latter can be tiresome), but with a little exercise of common sense you needn't let these people spoil your day. Rome is extremely labyrinthine and there are some places you'd be better advised to stay clear of if you're walking, so it's a good idea to invest in a good streetmap.

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Possibly the most lasting impression you will have of Rome is that motorists do not stop to let pedestrians cross the road at the zebra crossings. This is not just inconvenient for pedestrians - given the sheer volume and overall high speed of traffic in central Rome, it's actually downright scary and dangerous. You can try to put off a road-crossing only so long, but sooner or later you will have to venture out into the fray, and most tourists usually get their first big scare trying to get across Via Battisti where it joins Piazza Venezia as this is an almost unavoidable crossing if you want the shortest possible route between the Coliseum and the Trevi Fountain, the two main landmarks in Rome that everybody wants to see. The road feels like it's about fifty yards wide where the zebra goes across, and you get the sneaking suspicion that it's a modern-day equivalent of the old Roman practice of throwing Christians to the lions; a deliberate piece of civic planning to give the local drivers a bit of sport with the tourists. Actually it's probably the worst crossing in the city, so if you can figure out how to run this gauntlet, you'll be able to lick the others with a bit of practice.
The first thing you need to remember is that Roman drivers do not regard zebra crossings as places where pedestrians have priority to cross. Rather, they view zebra crossings as places where pedestrians may be granted a sporting chance to get across. That is to say, if you are already on the crossing, approaching motorists may just perceptibly reduce their speed a little, giving you time to advance a few more paces. It is no good waiting at the kerbside for traffic to stop before you cross - You will wait forever because no cars will stop... Instead, you must clearly assert your intention to cross by actually stepping out onto the crossing. Once you're on the crossing, keep going at a steady speed, but watch out for cars and weaving scooters that may not have seen you. Do not slow down or stop unless absolutely necessary, as the motorist has usually plotted his path in the assumption that you will have moved forward before he gets to the place you were a split second ago. For the same reason, do not start running either, as this also makes it tricky for the motorist to plot his route and speed. Native Romans do not run on the crossings, not because they care about being run over, but because they're too gosh-darn proud and posey to be seen running on a zebra.
Remember to always keep an eye out for cars taking a diagonal route or even overtaking on their blind side across the zebra. Romans don't care about blindsides, and lane markings on the roads are universally ignored. Most three-lane streets actually bulge into five lanes as motorists constantly jostle for position and prominence in the pack.
Surprisingly, zebra crossings in the central area are safer in a way than those on the outskirts of town, for where there are less pedestrians, drivers feel less obliged to stop or slow down at all. Very often while I have been driving in suburbia, I've approached zebra-crossings and watched the hilarious spectacle of pedestrians who were almost halfway across, see my approaching car and actually stop, turn back, and wait at the side of the road for me to 'cross' in my car!
Bizarre?
Most native Roman pedestrians are actually as reckless and inconsiderate towards car drivers as drivers are to pedestrians. They wander into and across the street right into the path of cars. They walk two and three abreast on narrow roads and show no inclination to get into single file when cars approach. If there is a sidewalk, they will walk down the road instead, and because zebra crossings are largely ignored by motorists, pedestrians ignore them too, crossing instead anywhere they feel like it, often followed or preceded by small dogs meandering on long leashes, or toddling babies, hand-held but always it seems on the traffic side of the road and not the kerbside. It's yet another example of the prevalent 'don't care if we live or die' fatalistic attitude of Italians which Romebuddy has noted elsewhere. You can be fairly sure that any Italian injured in a road accident would be unlikely to have taken any precautionary steps to avoid such an incident in the first place.

 

 



                                                         

 

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