Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rome Journal XI: Oh Where Do You Roam?

Everyone talks about how hard it is to drive in Rome, but drivers actually seem to know what they're doing. Some parts of the recent James Bond film Spectre take place in Rome and there are some hair raising scenes as James (Daniel Craig) tries to elude pursuit by the bad guys. That’s the thing about Rome, you have to negotiate the twist and turns and when you’re in a cab it can feel like a James Bond movie as you zoom through tiny winding streets that barely fit a car in order to say make it from the Via Nazionale in downtown, crossing the Tiber to Trastevere. But while they drive fast Roman drivers are also very conscientious and are second ro none in their ability to gracefully stop short. When an American driver stops short, all the passengers in the car feel like they're going through the windshield and driving around a city like Manhattan can lead to nausea due to all the stopping and starting. But Roman drivers are like the waiters in restaurants, they move fast but deftly seemingly able to find pleasure in the pursuit of shortcuts in a way that is as incomprehensible to the morally conflicted American driver as is the notion of sitting out a traffic jam or waiting one’s turn would be to their Roman counterparts. Rome may be called the Eternal City, but carpe diem is the motto where driving is concerned. “All roads lead to Rome” goes the old saw, but it doesn’t specify the speed limit.

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