Rome Notebook: It is quite common to have to drive around for half an hour looking for a scrap of asphalt in which to stuff one's vehicleMonday, 20 April 2009
Last Wednesday, a few hundred yards from my home in Rome's garden suburb of Garbatella, two men got into an argument over a parking space. The quarrel escalated, both got out of their cars to explain their respective positions, then the younger man drew a knife and stabbed the older three times in the chest. Aldo Murgia, the 44-year-old victim, was taken to hospital but died soon afterwards.
The contretemps, explained as a case of "follia urbana" or urban madness, was particularly sad because Mr Murgia was only a week away from fulfilling his life's ambition: he was bass player in a rock band called Orchydea, a Deep Purple tribute band, and was looking forward to playing in Sicily next week alongside Ian Paice, the real Deep Purple's original drummer. The concert is going ahead anyway, dedicated to his memory.
Reporters in Rome recalled the last such case of "follia urbana" was in 2005 when two drivers vying for one space got into a fight which ended with one shooting the other dead. But the real cause of amazement is that this sort of thing doesn't happen twice a week.
In Rome there are never any parking spaces. Every park-able kerb space, and many where parking is banned, is occupied all the time. It is quite common to have to drive around for half an hour looking for a scrap of asphalt in which to stuff one's vehicle. When the effort ends in failure you double-park, and every day the air is rent by the horns of the cars trapped by double-parkers. It's surprising they don't kill each other, too.
A new report by a national tourism research organisation which canvassed 34,000 tourists on their feelings about Rome identified car chaos as one of their main beefs.