Rome is very eclectic to say the least.
Sanity, at times seems to take a sidestep away from reality, and all you can do is shake your head and move on.
Case in point:
It was a hot, hot day in September 2008.
We had just left the Castel St. Angelo, once mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, and later safety fortress for the popes.
It’s a stunning example of ancient archeology and architecture. To walk the same hallways and entrances as the ancients did almost two thousand years ago.
Now, it’s a thriving museum which houses art, period pieces of authentic furniture, and a lot of cannon balls.
But more on Castel St. Angelo later.
On to my story…
We hailed a cab, a fiat, which upon seeing me wave him down did not even bother to pull over, he just stopped dead in his tracks, middle of the street, halting traffic until Frank and I had safely climbed inside.
We gave the driver the hotel business card to convey the address and we were off.
All was good for about a minute when traffic suddenly came to a halt. No warning, no apparent construction, no sirens signalling a motor vehicle accident.
Slowly, slowly, we inched forward in a painful gridlock.
Whatever the problem was, we could not see it until we were directly next to the vehicle causing the traffic jam.
Had he car broken down?
Was someone ill?
Were police at the scene?
As we passed by the automobile which was creating utter havoc in Downtown Rome, I could see two elderly men seated inside the car. One was in the driver’s seat, the other was in the passenger seat.
Both were in a loud and frantic argument with each other.
Even with the windows rolled up I could hear their raised voices as they waved their arms madly at each other.
Half of the cars veered to the left of the stopped vehicle and half veered to the right. Still, the two men kept arguing, either oblivious to the traffic mayhem they were creating, or revelling in the utter madness of it all.
No word of a lie.
Seeing a car stopped in the middle of a busy street corner so that two grown men could have an argument is one thing….
But for the rest of the drivers to calmly veer around them like it’s situation normal while considering this as acceptable behaviour is almost beyond my comprehension.
I have heard it said that anyone who can drive across the city of Rome five times can and will be considered an honorary citizen.
It’s tough enough for me to cross the street without getting hit, because I learned quite quickly that in Rome, traffic lights and stop signs are merely discretionary.
Kind of like:
If a traffic light turns red in the forest, and I can gun the motor to make it across the intersection before the pedestrian’s foot as much as touches the road to cross the street….
….does anybody hear my horn telling him to get out of my way?
The answer is yes…
But only if you want to live to see another day.