Rome has so much traffic and most of the people there drive scooters. The problem is that they don't usulally stop on pedestrian lanes and many times they don't stop with red lights.
So beware when you cross the streets in Rome, look very well to your left and right before crossing and make sure there's no scooter or car coming ( even if you are on a pedestrian lane) before moving!
As I tried to summarize in the title of this warning or danger tip, you should know about what to expect before thinking of driving to Rome. Traffic, 'crazy' drivers and tight (or better said the lack of) parking spaces, could ruin your holiday if you end up with scratches or dents in your car. Just look at the car in the picture. There were so many like that in Rome. I can bet that no less than 50% of the cars have at least one little scratch and more than 10% have serious damages. Another thing I have observed is that there are no big cars in Rome .. I was kind of surprised when seeing a VW Passat or something that 'big'. Dangers come from everywhere, from buses to motorcycles and scooters. You go to Rome and you will understand what I am talking about. But for the sake of your car, leave it at home or at least well parked at the hotel.
One thing that you cannot prepare for is the traffic in Rome. No matter what anyone here on the forum tells you, until you see it for yourself you won't really understand how bad the traffic is. In fact, it is not just bad, it is scary!!!! The cars and vespas squeeze 4 or 5 across in a two lane road. The vespas zip in between the cars even when they are in motion. I am surprised to have never seen an accident on my trips there. That being said, there is a way to cross these hazardous roads and live to tell the tale. The first step is the most important, literally. Once you decide to cross the street and step out into the traffic you cannot stop. You must continue at a steady pace until you get to the other side. I know this sounds crazy, but the drivers will anticipate where you will be when they arrive at that spot and plan their route around you. They may go in front or behind you but they won't hit you. This is why it's important not to stop, nor to run but keep to a steady pace while crossing. The other technique you can use is to cross with a native italian. If you see a group of people crossing, join in. There is safety in numbers! It is pretty scary the first couple of times but you will get used to it and learn your own pace and techinque. Don't be intimidated just wait for a small opening in the traffic and go.
I'm learning a LOT from my new Roman friend, Roberto (ARoman). I hope he doesn't mind my sharing the lesson he gave me for crossing the street in Rome:
Actually, I do watch their eyes. You have to be sure they have seen you, then
you can play your game.
Don't wait on the sidewalk for them to stop, they understand if you are not sure
and don't have time to stop completely for some tourists to decide to move in,
they will only slow down and move a bit around you when you'll cross.
So, start to move in the road, slowly but don't retreat when you conquer a
position. Nobody will be happy to hit you, so just consider their possible
movements and give them a chance to see you and use brakes or slow down safely.
You'll be hit only by mistake, like if they did not understand your moves (or
did not see you), that is the point. If you play tough but fair, the worst can
happen is that they will honk you, but they won't neither. Determined and safe,
there is no risk to cross.
If you are undecided or start to run scared or, worst, think to get back, they
won't expect that behaviour and you'll be at real danger. If you are concerned
at the start of the practice, just stay beside somebody that looks more
experienced and learn... at the end, it will be fun :)
Street at the Piazza Venezia has a big traffic area being the physical centre of the city. It is so busy that crossing the street from the King Vittorio Emanuel II monument becomes really difficult. There is enough tips that has been said about the hazard in crossing the street in Rome and what I am going to share with you is 'how to avoid this difficulties'. While it is true that crossing the street at Piazza Venezia infront of the King Vittorio Emanuel II monument must be very risky, that is mainly because I don't remember traffic lights installed within the area. At any rate, there is no harm trying different techniques so it is recommended to do this to avoid accident while you are in a foreign land: Wait until a crowd of pedestrian starts crossing. Whether there are locals in the crowd who are used to the Italian traffic, it is safer to just join in. If you are on streets with less traffic but you can see fast drivers, then wait a little while and for sure there will be local people you will come across who knows how to deal with it. It is better to wait for a minute or so before crossing the street, than to meet untoward incident. This tip is very useful because in going around the city of Rome, you will need a lot of walking, and a lot of .....crossing! Have a safe holiday!
I've read two schools of thought here on VT for crossing streets.
1. Stare straight ahead and cross with authority, the motorists will yield.
2. Make eye contact with the drivers to let them know you are crossing.
I used both at various times. But my best solution was to find an Italian, cozy up close to them, and cross with no fear. Worked like a charm.
In our neighborhood of Prati, as long as you crossed at the lights there wasn't any problem. Unless you count the scooterists who whip around the corners oblivious to street traffic lights. I only made the mistake twice of trying to cross the streets where there wasn't any light. Second time scared me enough to put me back on the right path...
THE BIGGEST PEDESTRIAN NIGHTMARE: is pictured here. The dreaded Venezia Piazza. A billion lanes across with no traffic lights. Motorists show no mercy. I've seen pictures of this piazza with snazzy traffic cops upon a pedestal, but never in my several hair-raising crossings did I see one.
If you are intent on crossing the street, be sure to walk quickly and surely, and don't turn back if you see a vehicle approaching. This may sound crazy, but I observed most drivers base their speed on the fact that you will be out of their way by the time they reach you. Traffic signals are not always observed, of course, so be careful!
We are taught to walk on the sidewalk and not cross except at the striped pedestrian crossings. In fact, here in the States legal protection is related to using pedestrian crosswalks. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way here, so don't try to play chicken with a Roman driver.
In Italy, it seems to me, traffic signs seem to be advisory only! But crossing the street, particularly if you are rolling your baggage with you, at first might seem like the perfect way to get an early meeting with your maker. Obviously, don't step out into a busy street with the cars flying by...don't challenge these guys! Stop and go and running like a scared deer didn't seem to be the answer either. The best way is to follow a local across the street, they seem cooly oblivious to danger. They don't run, they don't appear nervous. If you give the drivers enough room to change their route for you will do better.
Unfortunately not one of the pleasant memories of Rome. They drive like absolute maniacs!
In Rome, and every time that I was there, I needed to be extra cautious in regard to crossing the road. Here, we are so used to looking to the right, then left then right again before crossing that we can think it safe to cross the road then, in Italy. In Rome though it definitely is different, and not only because the first lot of traffic will actually approach you from the left.........they don't always stop for you -- but once on the crossing vehicles on your right will stop..............So going with a crowd is the best advice, and staying in the middle of that crowd probably affords you the best protection. I was rescued three times whilst in Italy all because I thought that I was home.
Everyone says Rome traffic is caotic and dangerous, and crossing the road is an adventure, only for the bravest and most fearless people.
Well, that's true. But, surprisingly, I found it safer to cross the road in Rome than in the other cities I visited. You just have to get used to it, and put your foot on the road with confidence and security. Don't worry, the drivers will not hit you (but they won't stop either...).
During the month I stayed there, I learned that there is a special set of traffic rules, that an outsider cannot understand, but the native roman obeys (yes, it may seem the opposite but, inside the anarchy, there are rules).
When walking or driving in Rome be carefull. Traffic seems to come from everywhere and at any time, red lights or stop signs it doesn't matter.
And judging to the cars it doesn't always go as planned. See the picture and you understand..........
The city center traffic was mostly kind to pedestrians. Cross in the cross walks and when you have the right of way. Don't linger in the middle of streets. Watch out for the city buses as they are on a schedule and don't like to be slowed down.
On the Appian Way traffic was pretty intense in places.
Crossing the road can be dangerous for tourists in Rome, and you should stay alert. Where there is a green man indicating that you can cross, be aware that cars may still be entitled to turn onto the road and cross where you are walking. Where there are no lights, crossing places are indicated by white stripes. As a pedestrian you have the right of way here, but drivers are quick to spot a nervous foreigner and are likely to accelerate as to stop. You will need to set foot on the road before any vehicle will even consider stopping for you. Make sure that the drivers in approaching cars have seen you and that they have a reasonable stopping distance - and walk. Traffic etiquette here in Rome is about survival of the most fit. However aggressive they may seem, drivers are aware that they could pick up penalty points or fines from running over pedestrians, and will be good if given no choice in the matter. However, you should always remain alert, particularly in wet weather!
There are so many vehicles that you need to continually look in all directions on many of the main streets. While doing that, be watchful for the bicycles that can come by you rather closely. Hug the sidewalk near the buildings to be safe
If you have nerves of steel and reflexes like a cat, then you should fell quite at home on the roads of Rome. However, if you are anything other than a professional Formula One or bumper car driver, then you should avoid driving in Rome like the plague. You need a special permit to drive in the historical center, though they don't bother tourists too much. However, the 1000 oblivious, aggressive Vespa drivers, as well as, the oblivious agressive car drivers should deter you from even attempting. Rome is very walkable and the limited Metro can at least put you near most sights. Also, getting lost amongst the narrow streets and finding all the little shops and places to eat is half the fun.