Thursday, March 22, 2007

Let's play "Find the Street Sign"

I'll be the first to admit I have absolutely no sense of direction. Luckily, I live in an age where this flaw does not affect my survival. Had I lived in the caveman days, I would have been the one who wandered off to gather berries, lost my way back to the cave, and been devoured by a saber tooth tiger.

Although there are no saber tooth tigers in Italy (that I know of), this is not a friendly country for the directionally-challenged, like myself. To illustrate my dilemma, we're now going to play "Find the Street Sign." Take a look at this photo:

This is a pedestrian area of the old city center. There's a sign in the foreground that says: area pedonale, and a picture of a pedestrian--no cars allowed here. Now...can you spot the street sign?

No?

Look closer. Squint if you have to.

If you haven't spotted it yet, look at the building on the right with the big, dark stain up the side. See the lighter-colored, rectangular sign on the building right smack dab in the middle of the stain? That's it! Congratulazioni--you've found the street sign.

Now let's play "Read the Street Sign."

Okay--that wasn't fair. No one could read that sign. And that's my point.

The street signs in Trieste are attached to buildings, and not every intersection even has signs. They're usually the same color as the building (you lucked out with the stain this time--not all buildings have that), and the street names are carved into the stone--not very practical, and impossible to read while driving at night.

How do Italians deal with this? First of all, the majority of them live in the same city in which they were born, so they already know their way around. Second, most city dwellers take the bus.

So what are the street sign ramifications for someone like me?

Disastrous. Especially when I'm driving. If I do spot an elusive street sign, reading it isn't always an option because I'm usually simultaneously trying to swerve around cars parked in turn lanes and drivers who cut in front of me without warning.

On second thought, maybe my zero sense of direction does cut down on my chances of survival...at least in Italy.

3 comments:

YACWW Moderators said...

I don't suppose it counts that I found the sign right away. I could claim it's my Italian blood, but actually it's because they do the same thing in Spain. Maybe it's a southern European thing.

But are you trying to claim L'Italia is worse than Japan? Have you ever gone looking for an address when you were here? There are no street signs. You get a bunch of numbers for an address and no street signs. Even taxi drivers get lost (and I never understood why I have to pay them for not knowing how to get me to where I was going--sheesh).

But I am so loving this blog. :-D

Ciao,
Patrizia

TinaFerraro said...

Natalie, I can't tell you how many times I've played Find the Street Sign while trying to find a museum or restaurant in Venice! And wandered aimlessly and hopelessly...

And by the way, if you're ever short on blog subjects, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the structure of the work-day and the 3 hour nap time...

Natalie said...

Ciao Patrizia--You're right about Japan...I'd forgotten all about that! And weren't the house numbers a little off, too? I seem to remember one house being numbered with 17, and the one next door with 25, or something like that (which happens here, too). Thanks again for reading my blog!

Hey Tina--I figured you'd be a pro at this game by now! :-) And Venice is such an easy place to lose your way--all those narrow, winding streets. And just when you figure out where you need to be, you realize it's across the canal, with no bridge in sight.

Good idea about the work day and naps...I'll definitely blog about that soon. Thanks for the suggestion, and keep them coming if there are others you'd like to see.

:-) Natalie