When in Rome…
Driving around in Rome is a challenge, especially when it’s the “wrong” side of the road – for an Aussie. In unmarked streets along the Tiber River it doesn’t seem to matter how many lanes you make. See a gap and go for it! There are also many one-way streets that lead into piazze – and then where do you go? You can’t go back the way you came.
That’s how I came to drive right through Piazza del Populi and not long after, the Piazza di Trevi – yes, the one with the fountain! To this day I can’t figure out how I did it, but luckily for me there were no Carabinieri (police) around. One advantage was I could quickly park the car – illegally of course – and pop over to get a quick photo before escaping.
The parking in Rome is a free for all. Just leave your car on a pedestrian crossing or on the very corner of the street – no worries! No-one ever seems to get booked.
We stayed in Rome a couple of times either side of our travels to Assisi and later, the Amalfi coast. The first time we stayed at the Hotel Sant’Angelo which was well positioned for walking to the Vatican. However parking was limited near the hotel, so we drove to St Peter’s Basilica and parked illegally nearby – no worries!
The second time, we stayed in a B&B in Via Giulia which was not far from Piazza Navona. We were able to leave our car in a carpark nearby.
From either accommodation we had easy access to the major city sights – the Trevi Fountain (again), the Spanish Steps, Via Condotti with its designer shops, the Forum, Trajan’s Column, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Campo de’ Fiore, the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, Circus Maximus, the Arch of Constantine and the church with La Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth).
Street signs around Rome are confusing for the driver, apart from any language difficulties. We often found them after the street we were meant to turn into. And the signs designating the route to the airport were even more confusing as there are two airports and the little aeroplane symbols don’t specify which one. Consequently our trip to the Fiumicino airport took a circuitous route and far longer than we had allowed for.
Our last time in Rome was basically a drive-through from sightseeing in Viterbo after a cruise, to go to Fiumicino. We had been using a local data SIM in our iPad to access Google Maps as a GPS, but the power ran out while we were on the Grande Raccordo Anulare (ring road) just as we approached a traffic jam. There had been an accident ahead but now we couldn’t take evasive action without a map. Our flight time was fast approaching and I was getting rather anxious as the minutes ticked away. So, when in Rome……
I drove off down the emergency lane until I got to the source of the blockage where the police were gradually allowing cars through. The minute we got there they decided to stop everyone so a truck could be moved. But the truck didn’t move and neither did we. I sent Hubby out to plead our case with the police but they couldn’t communicate too well. Eventually they decided we could go after all and we only reached the airport in the nick of time. And guess what? Our flight was delayed!