04 June 2008


The day before yesterday, the city was like a ghost town. We joked that it was a bit like being in a zombie film, the streets were so quiet. Bus #95 was re-routed to avoid running over the carabinieri parade that we caught a glimpse of as we passed Venezia and its traffic. Even with the re-routing, however, we arrived in ample time. The buses were moved for the parade, so they yielded in a sense, but we were on track.

Yesterday, traffic was abysmal. What is ordinarily no more than a 15 minute bus ride ended up taking over half an hour. As we slowly trundled toward school, sheltered from the rain and observing all of the innovative rain gear scooter users have, we were surprised at how badly the traffic was running. People are intimidated a lot by Roman traffic when they first arrive. After a few days (or weeks) of observing it, the method to the madness begins to emerge. It is fairly orderly and generally flows smoothly. This traffic jam was something new.

When we got closer to the city center, we figured out why: the senators were all on their way somewhere. The bus was passed repeatedly by dark towncars with tinted glass, with full police escorts (polizia finanzia, even!). All traffic yields to these cavalcades. As the buses, cars, and scooters move to the side (something I have only seen them do for ambulances, otherwise), after the VIP pass, the traffic must resort itself. As we were passed by multiple escorted cars (this ceased after we reached the Capitoline hill, which led to the presumption these were senators on their way somewhere), the traffic pile-up was considerable. Although I had seen the buses yield to police escorted towncars before, this was the first time it made an impression on the Roman traffic.

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Works Cited

Fiona Wild, ed. Eyewitness Travel Rome (London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1993), 2007 edition.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Marble Faun. New York: Penguin Books, 1990/1860.

James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York: Penguin Books, 2005/1878.

Powers, Alice Leccese. Italy in Mind: An Anthology. Toronto: Vintage Books, 1997.

Steves, Rick. Rick Steves' Italy 2007. New York: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006.