Most Italian cities have notoriously narrow roads, so trying to turn your car around on one is a foolish idea. An Italian motorist decided to U-turn his Fiat 500 in an alley lined with parked cars, instantly re-creating Austin Powers' 67-point turn scene.
The traffic jam which ensued wasn't exactly a riot, just a bunch of Italians yelling. But the roadway clog caused a complete — and hilarious — cross-section of Italian life to assemble on either side of the unfortunate motorist's little car, which luckily was captured on video. The whole cast of characters is there: other small cars, motorcyclists, policemen, an old lady with a bag full of groceries, a church parade. And everyone, even the priest, is yelling at the guy.
That's ok, he yells back (naturally), and gets cheering worthy of a DC United game (not exactly Italian soccer fervor, but still) when he finally escapes his predicament.
But this is part of the driving experience in Italy. Even when it's moving, traffic tends to be chaotic. For a little inside perspective about how the madness works, I'll tell you about riding in the car with my uncle's friend Guido a few months ago.
Traffic in Palermo is terrible, and drivers there don't steer as much as they swing the wheel back and forth in search of opportunities to find a faster way to wherever they're headed. Guido was cut off by other drivers multiple times, always waving his hands and swearing oaths at the offending party. Then he parked on a sidewalk with his car sticking out, blocking half of a traffic lane.
My uncle — and most other Italian drivers I've ridden with — does the same thing. Basically, they say, "Hey look at that jerk! He's driving like a lunatic!" as they're trying to nose the car through a group of old ladies crossing the street with bags full of food. (Mille grazie to Massimiliano!)
Photo credit: Benjamin Preston