Traveling around Europe is a huge privilege. Learning the various rules and cultural norms of various countries can be… a challenge. On a recent trip to Rome and Florence, I have noticed several cultural differences between Copenhagen and Italian cities… in particular, the rules of the road.
Copenhagen, the rules of the road are as follows:
Cars always yield. Pedestrians have the right of way. Bikers rule the streets. You wait at the crosswalk until the light is green, even if it’s 2 am and there are zero cars around, you wait. RULES. There are rules. And they are easy to follow and if you follow them, you will never have to worry about running into a bike, being hit by a car, etc.
In Italy, the rules of the road are:
NONEXISTENT. Vespas zooming right and left with no regards for anyone on the roads. Taxis whizzing behind you honking their horns and not slowing down. Buses pummeling down the narrow streets like a bat out of hell. Green means go, yellow means quickly, red means RUN.
Since being in Italy, I have come in real close contact with several Fiats, gotten trapped in the tram door, and enraged a bus driver because I was “in his path” (**take note that I was crossing the street on a green light). The “rules” do not apply. It is every man for himself. I have since learned that the only rule is COMMIT. If you’re going to cross, DO. NOT. Hesitate. Commit. And 9 times out 10, you’ll make it without a scratch. But I can’t guarantee there won’t be any honks.