The Roamin' Roman

Benvenuto! You have happened upon the blog of a wandering Catholic American college student studying for a year in Rome, the Eternal City. You will find here my pontifications, ruminations, reflections, images, and ponderings on my life in Rome. Ciao!

Thursday, September 8

Some observations

How do you know when you're in Germany?
Everyone crosses the street at the appropriate crosswalk and only when the green light is given. Any attempt to cross before the green light goes on risks a swift clenching on the elbow as granny tries to hold you back. Forget crossing where there is no crosswalk - police are prepared to fine you. Women with baby carriages are given a wide berth.

How do you know when you are in Austria?
Most people cross the street at the crosswalk when the green light is on, but there will be a few nervous attempts to leap across at an "incorrect" time if there is absolutely no traffic anywhere nearby. A few people are even lazy enough to try this in the middle of the street instead of going to the corner crosswalk. The people chuckle at the Germans for their "overbearing" attitude towards pedestrians. Women with baby carriages are helped by one or two people if it appears necessary to hurry the flow across the street.

How do you know when you are in France?
Most people cross the street at the crosswalk, but the color of the light makes absolutely no difference whatsoever, and if there is oncoming traffic then by golly they'd better stop. Mid-street crossing is done only slightly more frequently than the Austrians, but is done far more daringly. Women with baby carriages are seen as opportunities to entice traffic to stop sooner and so when it appears that they will cross the street there are usually people like ducklings lined up behind them to take advantage of the ready-made opening.

How do you know when you are in Italy?
People cross the street whenever and wherever they dang well please, crosswalk or no, walk light or no. Traffic had just better stop (preferably with a honk to acknowledge the pedestrian's courageous bolt in front of a bus). Instead of daring mid-street dashes like the French, Italians are known for the daring mid-street amble. Women with baby carriages crossing the street are also seen as a way to get across the street easier, but you'd better be ready to move quick because Italian mamas are smart opportunists when it comes to Italian traffic and if you miss the opening they see you could find yourself up against a Vespa.

Thus ends today's lesson in "what Mary has observed in Europe so far."


  • At 1:00 PM, Blogger Clyde said…

    How do you know when you are in Malta?

    When cars overtake on the left instead of just on the right.
    When people cross the street whenever they feel like it.
    When cars don't respect speed limits even with speedcams.
    When cars don't signal they are going to turn.
    When cars signal they are going to turn left, and then they turn right instead and perhaps even almost run over somebody who is crossing the street.


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