Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When in Rome...

I am having some trouble crossing the streets in Rome. As I watch Romans, I assume that some sort of combination of art and instinct are involved. As vespas and motorcycles and cars and buses hurtle towards me, I try to put my foot into the crosswalk. No one seems to notice or care. Cars either dodge by or slow at the last minute. I began following Romans to see how they did it. I stuck close behind, but they didn't seem much better at it than I. And I am scared to death. Vehicles charge from all angles. Sidewalks suddenly end and form narrow streets where an endless stream of taxis barrels along. It is a bit of a game of chicken. How far can I get? Will they really stop? The number of crushed pigeons in the crosswalks does not bode well. The other day, walking through a particularly narrow and complicated part of Rome with one of my hosts, I told him that I was afraid to cross the street. "So are we," he replied. It seems that last year alone 66 pedestrians were killed as they walked across the street in the crosswalk with hundreds more injured. The wife of the President of the Republic of Italy was herself run down in front of the Presidential mansion. Clearly you are taking your life in your hands. And I have watched confused tourists crossing major intersections in the crosswalk when they don't have the light. I'll admit that there is a certain charm to all of this. The man on his bicycle, no helmet, who glides among traffic through Piazza Venezia. The girl on her vespa, chatting away on her cell phone. To all of them it is just another day in Rome. Meanwhile tonight is my last night. I'm laying low. I'm staying home.


  1. Mary,

    I met you on the train two days ago in Rome. Two days! It already feels like a long time ago and very far away from my every day life. I read your bio on your web site and looked at your books. You are an inspiration! I always think about writing but never seem to get around to it. Thanks for your comments about Rome. I'm glad I didn't know the statistics about pedestrians before I went.


  2. Dear Ed, thank you so much for writing to me. I am glad if I can somehow be an inspiration. Believe me, it doesn't feel like that on my end. But I appreciated hearing it. It was nice meeting you and your wife. And yes be careful next time you cross a street in Rome! Touch base now and then. best to you, Mary