With the nights starting to draw in and forecasts of cold, wet autumnal weather on the horizon I have been reminiscing about warm summer days al fresco, and more specifically my holiday abroad. This summer our chosen destination was Italy, famous for Ferraris, pizza, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and possibly Silvio Berlusconi.
As a keen transport planner I’m always on the lookout for interesting transport related features and idiosyncrasies: keen is perhaps an overstatement but some things can’t help catching your eye. It is rare not to come across one when travelling abroad, such as an unusual junction layout, strange signs, or the distinctive driving habits of the locals.
My first discovery was that drivers are now supposed to have their car headlights on all the time on motorways and dual carriageways outside the urban area. This is a safety measure intended to make the car more visible I believe, although there is some concern that the safety measure may actually make cyclists and pedestrians less visible.
As in the UK and across the rest of Europe, all new cars must be fitted with automatic daytime running lights as was our hire car. However, I too have to question the safety benefits of this new European law, as the high speed tail gating that some locals engage in means that the car behind is often too close to actually see its headlights. A rear view mirror full of car bonnet is often all you can see.
During our Italian adventure we (very sustainably) took the train to Florence and spent a few hours in the crush around the gothic style Duomo di Firenze: the place is a victim of its own success as a tourist destination. But the thing that sparked the interest of the transport nerd in me was not the impressive spans of the Ponte Vecchio, but the interesting road signs that the city boasts.
The first that caught my eye, in conjunction with the road name (Via Del Purgatorio), was the ‘No Through Road’ sign doubling as a crucifix as shown to the right. My favourite.
Having spotted this one, more signs became apparent as you can see below.