When in Rome, park as the Romans do

A newcomer points out local parking tips

While sightseeing in Rome, I have noticed many differences between Americans and Italians, but one that always brings a smile to my face is that of the peculiar parking habits of Italians. The ability to park a car in Rome is an art form. Romans take the art of creative parking to an entirely different level, maximizing every square inch of a parking space. Over the last few weeks in Rome, I have been able to distinguish at least five common parking styles that Italians find perfectly acceptable.

1. "Going Upstream" Parking.

Here the car is going against the crowd; completely okay with being unique. Yes, the "going upstream" parking may be a bit life threatening to achieve, but hey it's either you park against the flow of traffic here or continue circling the city until you find the next open spot.

2. Double Parking.

Clearly blocking someone else in is not of concern to the driver here. It is unclear if the driver double parked because he was in a rush or just out of sheer disregard for whether anyone who parked legally may need to leave. This method will block in other cars, buses, scooters, and even trash dumpsters.

3. Sidewalk Parking.

Who says that the sidewalk is only for pedestrians? Anything on, near, or around the street is fair game as long as it is paved and regardless of how big the curb may be.

4. The "Threading of Scooters" Park.

To watch a person park a scooter is like watching a seamstress threads her needle. It is an art form. The scooterist often rapidly approaches the open stop, quickly veers so the end of the scooter perfectly lines up with the tight spot, then the scooter is backed up into the spot. Keep in mind this occurs within a ten to fifteen second period and in a spot that is less than a two feet wide (Impressive with a capital I).

5. The "Smart Car" Park.

The "Smart Car" parking takes strategic parking to a whole new level. This style allows a smart car to really utilize its size to the driver's advantage and park in spaces that would be inconceivable for any other type of motor vehicle. Not only can it fit into the smallest of spaces in the normal flow of parking, but it can be parked perpendicular to the street, while just barely touching the curb.

Each style of parking brings its own unique and impressive form. It is certainly unlike anything I have come across in the U.S. Even if you are spending only a day touring the Vatican or sightseeing in Rome, be sure to take a look around and notice these parking styles, because if you look carefully you will be sure to see all five.

Published on April 26th, 2010
© When In Rome Tours, article provided by Anne Marie Kerchberger.

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