After living here for quite some time, I finally realized the other day that almost every street in downtown Florence is senso unico (one-way). There are only a handful of two-way streets, like via Cavour, via dei Cerratani (both near the Duomo) and the viali (avenues) that delimit the centro (downtown center). Buses always go in the specified direction, cars generally do, and biciclette (bicycles) and motorini (scooters) rarely do.
The street in front of our house used to be one way: it went in the direction from via Ghibellina toward via di San Giuseppe, which runs alongside the Santa Croce church. Right before we moved here in November 2004, they changed it to go the opposite way. Of course, the signs still indicate the previous direction, but that's incorrect.
The other day when I took a taxi home, the autista (driver) asked me which way my street goes. I told him, "Prima andava da via Ghibellina verso la chiesa ora è il contrario" (It used to go from via Ghibellina toward the church and now it's the opposite). The autista laughed and said, "Cambieranno il senso della strada prima di rifare i cartelli stradali" (They'll change the direction of the street before redoing the road signs). He went down the right (new) way from Santa Croce toward via Ghibellina and there was a car coming toward us. The other car ended up parking, so the autista could drive out safely.
Even though I know my area pretty well and I know which streets go in which directions, it's really useless information because you still have to look both ways just in case there's a motorino or bicicletta coming from the opposite direction.
My friend Debora and her boyfriend Paolo were driving us to our apartment one late Saturday evening. They snuck downtown avoiding the cameras so as not to get a ticket in the mail because their car doesn't have a resident's permit. He turned onto via delle Casine and got to via di San Giuseppe and made a wrong turn. Suddenly, we found ourselves on a one-way street out of town. He quickly turned down a narrow street that was going in the opposite direction. I wasn't too afraid, although Dave might have been just a little as he couldn't take his eyes off the road in front of us. I wasn't as worried because I knew that Italian drivers would most likely look in both directions even if it is a one way street.
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