I never, ever, in my wildest dreams, imagined I would ever drive a car through the streets of Rome.

In the rain.

At night.

But then again, the list of unprecedented things I’ve been involved in since I fell in love with the Latin Mass 14 years ago, and especially since we arrived here in Rome two weeks ago, has become so long that I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by anything anymore.

Today was spent lugging boxes of books around, first by foot and then by car.  After my experience this past weekend of driving to Norcia, I decided that driving in Rome wasn’t as scary as I always thought.  Not sure what that says about how bad Chicago traffic is…

Threading the needle in the giant sedan they gave me. Sometimes you have to pull your mirrors in to pass through the space allowed, but hey, as long as you can get through, I guess it’s allowed.

Therefore rather than attempting to carry all these boxes on a dolly 3 at a time across 2 miles of cobblestones, or pay someone else an exorbitant fee to do it, by far the cheapest option was just to rent a car and drive them ourselves.

You really don’t want to roll a dolly over these cobblestones. They eat suitcase wheels for breakfast every day.

I learned several things from the experience, and thought I’d share them with you since, after all, I don’t have much else to share today except sweat.

No stop signs. And when there are signs, you often really don’t know what they mean. Well…at least I didn’t.
  1. There are almost no stop signs in the historic center of Rome, and only a handful of traffic lights on the main roadways.  It’s every man for himself at most intersections.
  2. There are lines painted in the road but most of them are so worn down that you can’t see them, especially at night in the rain.  But it doesn’t really matter much anyway because most of the drivers ignore them completely. 
  3. Oh, and did I mention that the colors of the lines painted on the street are the opposite of what we in the US are used to?  There is a double white stripe dividing you from oncoming traffic, and yellow stripes by the side of the road to mark off the bus-only lanes, etc. That is…when you can see them.
  4. There are probably rules of the road for people driving motorcycles and scooters, but no one enforces them or pays any attention.  They will cut between lanes, swarm past you at stop lights, anything that’s life-threateningly dangerous, they will do.
  5. If there are rules for parking, I really can’t tell.  Unless there is a sign saying no parking, the rule seems to be that if you can fit it and people can still get past you (even just barely) then you’re good.
  6. Here no one actually cares if you double-park, people do it all the time.  We had little choice but to follow suit, since there were no parking spots anywhere near where we needed to be.  I was amazed how long we could leave it and really no one even raised an eyebrow.
  7. Gas stations here I guess have a license for highway robbery.  Their version of pay-at-the-pump involves charging you 2 Euros as a “service fee”…if you want to avoid this, you can put in cash but you don’t get any change if you don’t use up the entire amount.  So to refill the tank of the rental car, I waaaaay overpaid.
  8. Oh, and most cars here are manual transmission too…
This is the Main Drag leading from the Train Station to downtown. It’s a major roadway. Can you see a center line? I can’t. Also, see the yellow line on the side?

Tomorrow begins the big Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage and we have over a thousand books in place for people to take home with them. I can’t wait!

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