Thursday, April 7, 2011

Handy Helpful Hints (01): signage and a prosaic suggestion

Personally, I find directional signs on Italian town-to-town roads very difficult to comprehend: teentsy and JUST BEFORE WHERE YOU SHOULD HAVE TURNED, so, by the time you figure out what it was, you've already whizzed past the exit. Those aside--one of the reasons I don't drive in Italy--signs in town sometimes need a bit of translation for non-locals. I thought I'd give a helping hand (an irresistable American trait, I think, trying to be helpful, with good sides and bad sides, as in just about everything, but that's another story, and could end up being much more political than I'd care to be on my blog), so here's the first in the series of Handy Helpful Hints about living in Italy, today mostly to do with signs...More......

While the picture for photo #1 opening this post is pretty clear, those used to reasoning about time using A.M. - P.M. might not get the text. It's the ever-so-handy 24 hour clock used in Italy (and probably the rest of Europe). Midnight is "0" (that has been a font for interesting philosophical musings on my part while waiting for busses) AND "24." So, no parking there for anybody, 24 hours a day. (I might have mused in an earlier post about my anguish at trying to learn how to tell time on an A.M.-P.M. clock. My little 9-year old brain, apparently already quite logical, just could NOT figure out how "1" could follow "12"..."But, dad, shouldn't it be 13?," I remember asking as clearly as if it were yesterday...can even remember being in the kitchen of that house on Hill Drive. Being born European would have saved me that trauma.)

While we're talking about parking in town (not so easy: so many cars, so few spaces, and costly hour-by-hour or rental spaces in garages), forget looking for the blue strips, if you're handicapped. Blue strips mean "pay for parking here," and are available also for people not residing in that area. Yellow strips are areas reserved for residents of the area, with the permit visibly displayed. Handicapped parking is marked by the international sign of a person in a wheelchair. Something new, too: a scattering of pink marked areas for mothers-to-be, particularly in front of hospitals and clinics, where they need to go for check-ups.

Are you a bit under the weather, have crutches, in a wheelchair, or just feeling lazy weak for one reason, or another? In the subway, this exit sign also tells you that there is an escalator available, while the outline of a person, or two, in a square indicates an elevator (in Milan, anyway, they are usually working, too).

I'm pretty sure I've whined about this, before, so I'll keep it brief: when on the escalator (or on a public sidewalk, for that matter), please "tenere la destra," and keep to the right, so that others may pass you on the left.

I snapped these shots with you in mind on Saturday, April 2, in the hours just around noon (then went home to eat!). What a lovely lovely day, after so many gray days of clouds, rain and drizzle. Spring is finally here! Yeah!

Oh, and what was the prosaic suggestion?

Ahem, there's no real delicate way to bring up this topic, which could be a potential source of shock for others, as it had been for me, so I'll just out with it: if you prefer using seat covers for public toilets, you'll have to bring your own! There, I've got that off my chest!

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