Daily Report: May 23, 2002

After a full night’s rest, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team awoke early for another extended day of sightseeing around Rome. The highlight of Thursday’s adventures was a trip to The Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, which features the famous works of Michelangelo.

The Irish also got another first-hand look at one of Rome’s well-known hazards … the traffic. Approximately three million people live in Italy’s capital city and it seems every last one of them owns some sort of motorized transportation. However, there is a serious shortage of parking spaces and as a result, double parking seems to be the rule, rather than the exception. Not a good idea, especially on some of the city’s narrower streets with a large bus trying to navigate the tight corners. Kudos go out to our bus driver, Mateo, who has laid on his horn numerous times to call double-parkers back to their vehicles in an effort to get us around town.

In an effort to alleviate some of the traffic problems, close to 20 percent (around 600,000) of Romans own motorized scooters, which they whip through lanes and up sidewalks at death-defying speeds. Speaking of lanes, Roman drivers don’t seem to follow them; instead they simply line up at a light wherever they feel like it, making a three-lane road suddenly look like a six-lane highway … or a disaster waiting to happen, depending on your outlook.

Besides scooters, it seems nearly half of Romans own tiny subcompact cars, about the size of a Geo Metro back home. There also is an even smaller car appearing on Rome’s streets called a “Smart Car”, which is less than two-thirds the size of a golf cart and looks like a box on wheels. These cars zip through town and have been seen parked on streets nose-first against the sidewalks, since they don’t stick out anymore than the width of your average car.

The Irish will escape the traffic of Rome for the northern half of Italy on Friday, beginning with a four-hour trip to Bologna and a game at 6:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. in South Bend) against Faenza-Ravenna Select, a club team comprised of players from the First and Second Division teams located just outside Bologna.