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?
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.