As Romans glide through their notorious traffic like sleek schools of fish, they sustain a startlingly low level of honking and accidents because the seeming anarchy has one irrevocable guiding rule: don’t hit anyone.
Excuse me, Josh, but...BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!
This much is true...:
Italians specialize in taking their time, particularly at the table where they meander between splendid food and joyous conversationfor hours.
...until Italians get behind the wheel of a car. Plenty of honking, plenty of hand gesturing. Green means go, yellow means go, red means two more cars can go. Most traffic laws are not enforced until something happens.
I've driven streets that were barely meant for two cars and they make three cars fit. They pass cars into oncoming traffic, but I can say one thing, they really have no problem seperating like the red sea for that oncoming passing car and they do it quite fluidly. They drive like they're on speed and act that way too while driving. The second they're out of the their cars, it's back to the laid back thing.
On a sidenote, military personnel in Italy that drive personal vehicles display a license plate that reads AFI then the the number. The AFI stands for American Forces Italy. If you get into an accident with an Italian it stands for At Fault Instantly.
That the US has a huge military presence in other parts of the world (not for the stability of other countries but for its own continued dominance) is not lost on the Romans. The U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet is still headquartered just south of Naples. But the elders’ memory of Americans liberating them from the tyranny of fascism in the ‘40s may be why Italy has remained one of the most pro-American nations in Western Europe. Or it could be because the U.S. is home to over 11 million Italian-Americans, most of them successful. Italians are proud that one of their own, Rudy Giuliani, was the popular mayor of New York City.
Not to mention Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Aviano AFB in Aviano, and a small detachment in Livorno. During my time there I became very good friends with an older Italian farmer and his wife. They owned three houses on the same parcel of land one of the houses designed and built by his father in honor of the American's and Tino only rented that house to Americans as was his father's wishes. The other house was divided in to, upper and lower and rented out to American's as well. Speaking with Tino who spoke in farmer's dialect, he remembered hiding in the loft of the barn while a major battle occured in the back forty. One can still go out there in the fields and find war memorabilia such as shells and bayonets if one looks hard enough. Tino and Tino's father were and are forever grateful for the Allied forces that freed them from the tyranny they were subjected too.
Huey Long, one of America’s cleverest (but also most corrupt) politicians, was once asked if America would ever see fascism. “Yes,” he said, “but we will call it anti-fascism.” My Roman friends seem more upset than most Americans that Bush is eroding personal freedom at home while removing the welcome mat at its borders. “Give me your tired, your poor” has, they note, become: “Give me your fingerprints.”
This coming from a country that changes it's political philosophies almost weekly.
Italians also notice how Bush continues to line the pockets of wealthy cronies while many U.S. citizens live without basic social programs such as national health insurance. The U.S. budget deficit, over a half-trillion dollars, is the biggest bit of red ink ever smeared on world history. As it happens, Americans live shorter lives than Italians. Our children are more likely to die in infancy. The US ranks above Italy (and most industrialized nations) in infant mortality. Despite greater spending, American children consistently under-perform their Italian peers in literacy and math.
This being in Rome, the southern aspect of Italy. If he travels to the north, where it is industrialized he will realize the disdain and contempt that northern Italians hold for southern Italians as northern Italy is the most taxed region of the country and a good portion of those taxes go to support the lifestyle and social programs of the south.
So while Italians embrace Americans and much of our popular culture, they may be the fiercest critics of the American Empire. Their view as folks from an “ex-empire” is that America’s Imperium cannot be sustained.
This I agree with as the US will, in my opinion, tax and legislate itself to a revolution.
Italians see our obsessions with wealth, size, and abundance as not only ecologically catastrophic but aesthetically unredeeming.
Ever see the clothes these people wear?