Saturday, July 31

Driving in Italy - Street Signs & Other Driving Hazards

The other night, a friend - who has lived here longer than I have - debated what, exactly, the road sign posted actually meant.  She thought it was 'do not enter', I said it was 'no parking'. And I started wondering what do the millions of tourists think? So as one of my occasional Public Service Announcements, here is a quick guide to the country's quirkiest street signs:

This is one of my favorites, and one I recall seeing everywhere when visiting Italy at 6 yrs of age. Since there's no bar going thru it, to my mind (40 years on), I think this sign means, 'anything goes' or 'nothing prohibited.' And judging from the cars parked every which way, pedestrians & mopeds doing whatever it is they do best, well, I still believe that it's the case today.  Turns out it's a version of the 'do not enter' sign - but this one, missing the cross out bar, means that it's a one way street - not going your way.

 I had to look this one up again.  It's a sort of 'no standing'.  I say sort of, because what happens when you get a phone call and need to pull over?  Whatever it is, best not to park where this is posted (except, of course, if you're a mammoth tourist bus and then you can park - engine running - all you want).

Here, the City officials mean business.  

In fact, this sign is the European equivalent of this: 

When I first moved to Milano, this sign always struck me as such a nice way to put things.  For years, I thought it was a sign imploring the tram drivers to watch out for pedestrians, as we'd be crossing the tracks at any given point (or, if we were bike riders, we'd be caught in the tracks, falling to the point of seeing our life pass before our very eyes - always an interesting feeling to spice up your week).
It is actually a poetic way, in the land of Dante, to implore trams to 'Go Slow' or here, 'at a man's pace.'  Let's just hope by that they don't mean Schumaker or Valentino Rossi.

picture frm flikr

I have no clue if this sign means, 'No Trespassing', 'No Pedestrians allowed', or 'Attenzione! pedestrians crossing'.

But, hey, it could be worse.  You could find yourself trying to find a parking place in L.A. or NYC:


Natalie said...

One of the things I am most looking forward to about moving from LA to Rome is selling my car! Seems like an even better decision to be car-free now that I see all the signs. Thanks for the post!

cuz liz said...

NIce redesign!

Irreverent Italy said...

@Natalie, you could always do like me and bring yours over! But, they do have car sharing-but buying one here is frankly not worth it - public transport (despite what I may say about it) is fine...

@Liz - grazie!

Dave514 said...

Aaaaaah, that's better, now I can post a comment again.

Sign salad whether in Roma or NYC is all much of a muchness...all bad. It just signifies that in either place owning a car even a three-wheel half-smart in Roma is onerous.

Now gorgeous please read my email I sent you directly. I know it's tough the life you lead but you do live in the Eternal City.

Again, a good looking layout.

Un abbraccio forte,


Jacques said...

Down in Florence, I was amazed at a stop sign near the Arno, near the science museum. In five minutes watching, as the kids looked at the bronze frogs and amphibians climbing the lampposts and the zodiac signs embedded in the sidewalk, I counted cars. *NOT* stopping. Out of something like a couple dozen cars, only one (1) made any attempt whatsoever to slow down, to what could be considered a "rolling" stop. Since it is a wide open square, most checked for side traffic and never even light up the brake lights.

Irreverent Italy said...

Okay, but my true favorite is when you see traffic signs like ONE WAY or NO STOPPING posted SIDEWAYS (e.g. lengthwise to your car) so you'd have to be going perpendicular across 3 lanes of traffic to see it.

I finally figured them out, however:
They're usually to be found when there are roadworks nearby, and that little piece of the highway might just be opened to cross traffic.
They are letting the workers know which way traffic would be coming (duhhhhhh). I still always get a chuckle from them.