Rome: Understanding the city’s street signs
By Nicole Arriaga in Rome—
Finding your bearings in Rome can at first be tricky. You’ll probably get lost, and those buses can be hard to figure out. Even understanding the street signs can be a bit of a challenge. The first time I ventured about Rome on foot, I remember struggling to even find the signs!
But never fear, here’s a quick primer in what to look for in a Roman street sign–and where to look!
Where to look for your sign
In Rome’s center you’ll often find addresses posted on marble-like plaques on the sides of buildings. When looking for “Via dei Banchi Vecchi,” for example, you’ll need to look high up on the side of the building, where you’ll see the little plaque. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t find it right away; sometimes you have to walk a few blocks on the same street before spotting one.
Street signs come in all shapes and sizes. When not posted directly onto the buildings, you’ll find regular white street signs with black lettering. You may even see a black square sign with addresses posted directly above an advertisement, for example, for a movie or an art exhibition.
Where to find your number
So you’ve found the street–now let’s find the street number! This, too, is sometimes easier said than done.
Often, odd numbers will be on one side of the street and even numbers on the other. Don’t assume that sequential numbers will be across the street from each other. “46” for example, might be several blocks away from “45” and “47.” Or the numbers could run in sequence (as pictured above).
This even-odd inconsistency tends to drive tourists mad, but after a while, you’ll get used to it. (And relax. Remember that you’ll probably make some of your best “discoveries” while wandering around a bit lost!)
Other confusing street signs
Although most of the signs posted around Rome are intended for automobiles, a few are important for pedestrians to understand. These include:
The “Area Pedonale” sign shows a man walking, signifying that you’re entering a pedestrian-only area. In other words, no cars allowed.
You’ll know you’re in Italy when you see this one. The sign says “Dog Parking.” While Italy is pretty dog-friendly, some businesses don’t allow you to bring Fido inside. To make nice, certain shops have set up a sort of “dog parking” station, where owners can literally tie up and “park” their dogs.
Believe it or not, tourists often confuse these parking meters with telephone booths. Maybe the “P” painted on it causes them to think of a “phone”? Perhaps it’s all those buttons? I’ve seen people struggling, without any luck, to find the phone receiver. No folks, these are parking meters.
If you’re looking for a phone, they’re silver and orange. Unfortunately, they’re growing scarce, but seem to still be placed around busy (and noisy) intersections.