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!
Never in my life have I ever come across a driving culture like the Italians. Everyone seems to think they're in a Ferrari, and the road belongs to them. This is one thing when you're driving as well, but it's completely another when you're a pedestrian... If there's a Zebra crossing, expect to have cars driving around you while you're crossing, and they're not likely to stop and let you go.
Italians seem to take this in their stride, but if you're not local, you need a certain amount of guts to set foot on a busy street.
Crossing the road in Rome can be quite a terrifying experience for those of us who come from places where driving is a little less...chaotic and aggressive, let us say.
There is a technique to doing it and it requires a little practice and nerves of steel.
What you need to do is stare at the car you want to stop or slow down so that you can cross - try to make eye contact with the driver (yes I know this sounds crazy but jusrt go with it!) and then take one step confidently off the pavement as if you believe you own the road and so clearly the driver must stop. They will probably then start to at least slow down and then you can scuttle across the road quickly. If that driver doesn't let you cross then quickly take a step back and try again with teh next one! It ususally is succesful very quickly.
The alternative method is to look out for nuns (groups or individuals) crossing the road and then go with them. There are actually so many nuns around the centre of Rome that this can often be quite a practical method on some of the busiest roads as Italian drivers seem to have an aversion to running down nuns, but no qualms about flattening the odd tourist.
Automobile and motorcycle drivers are acting almost recklessly. They are driving too fast and appear "from nowhere".
There is also a big quantity problem in the daytime. Do not pass half of the street just because the one direction was free, you'll end standing in the middle of the street for minutes.
Use regular crosswalks etc. Be careful. Do not rent a car or motorcycle unless you are used to it.
The same problem is in Paris, France.
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.
My husband and I did a lot of walking this trip and the traffic was insane. I can't imagine how anyone drives like that day after day. Motorcycles zipping in and out of traffic, a complete disregard for traffic signals, and there aren't enough police in the world to stop all the speeders and dangerous behaviors that we saw. Rome has lovely public transit where you can let somebody else worry about traffic and that would be my suggestion.
BEFORE CROSSING A STREET!
Italian drivers are busy and they are ready to go! They drive INSANE!! It's like Houston but without cross walks.
Just make sure you are careful and look multiple times before crossing a busy steet. They take no mercy!
I thought that the craziest drivers were in Mexico City and that it was impossible to find others that drove as recklessly because we were the worst ever....... Foreign people who have lived here for years are still afraid to drive within the city because it can get dangerous.
Well, if Italian drivers aren't worse than ourselves then they're very close competitors to say the least!! By the time I traveled to Rome in the summer of 2007 I was already used to the Scandinavian way: people being respectful of traffic signs & considerate of pedestrians, speed limits being observed and all. Even Parisian drivers are famous for being crazy, but I was in Paris right before flying to Rome and I have to say that I never felt in danger in Paris but cannot say the same about Rome. I did not remember from my first trips to Rome that drivers were so reckless - they were in Napoli but not there - and I did feel like crossing streets in Rome was life-threatening!! In general, they won't stop if they see pedestrians trying to cross the street... There aren't traffic lights everywhere so you really have to be careful when crossing a street where there isn't one or when walking along the little cobblestoned super narrow streets in downtown where the cars and scooters come out of nowhere at full speed and couldn't care less about the people walking by.
Well, I guess the only advice I can give you is to be very careful and try to cross the streets on the designed/striped areas (even though they are usually disrespected by the drivers anyway) and along with other people, so the drivers will have to stop even if they don't want to..... it's harder to run over a crowd than over a single person.
Watch out not only for cars but for scooters as well -- sometimes these are even more numerous and their drivers are just as reckless if not more, and they can be driven through the narrowest streets where the cars cannot come in. Incidents between cars and scooters are also frequent, as I was told by a local -- no wonder!!
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
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).
The driving is crazy in Rome! Be very careful when crossing the street, because they go fast and won't stop for you.
Also, watch out for the motorbikes. I almost got run over by a motorbike that jumped the curb onto the sidewalk.
This is awesome.. Don’t get me wrong.. But the majority of the street in Rome lack of sidewalks. So if you are enjoying a nice glass of wine on the tables outside…well be prepare to “feel” the cars right next to you as the tables are right on the street!. This is amazing.. And the sensation is kind of weird! But that’s the whole Italian experience!