Thursday, 28 November 2013

An Ode to the Taxi Drivers of Rome, Italy!



Rome, Italy No city in Europe is easy to drive in. I used to drive in them twenty years ago, but no more. Traffic in most European cities is horrendous. Each country, indeed each city, seems to have its own protocols known only to the locals. I value my life too highly to risk driving in Paris or Rome, Athens or Budapest traffic. No. These days I take taxis. I drive happily in the countryside, through Tuscany, Provence, the Swiss Alps, but when I come to any large city I head for the airport (always some miles distant from the city) and turn the car in. From that point, I am at the mercy of the taxi drivers. 

Which brings me to the taxi drivers of Rome. They are amazing. First of all, they are the friendliest I’ve ever encountered anywhere. They converse happily about where we are, what we’re seeing, where we’re going, and life in general. They manage to drive safely through unbelievable mazes of traffic, always knowing another way when one is blocked. They chat on their cell phones and speak volumes with their very Italian hand gestures while still managing to steer their vehicles through crowds of tourists. They never seem to lose their cool. They impart words of wisdom. “Did you know √© Roma backwards spells Amor√©?”, and “the Rome of the Caesars, Roma Antica is Romantica?” 

They are a gallant lot. When we unknowingly booked into a hotel a full block down a pedestrian- only lane, our driver pulled over on the densely trafficked Via del Corso and dragged our too many bags all the way to our hotel entrance, without regard for the traffic jam he caused in the process. 

Taxis in Rome, Italy
I never heard a Roman taxi driver yell at another taxi driver or beep his horn, even in the most frustrating circumstances. In fact, unlike Paris, where taxi horns are part of the music of the city, car horns are never heard in Rome. Perhaps there’s a law against blowing horns, I don’t know. But Romans don’t pay much attention to other laws. There’s little reason to think they’d observe one about blowing horns. I think the answer lies rather in the sense of community and the innate old world courtesy of the men and women who drive taxis in this ancient city. Rome taxi drivers are invariably courteous to one another. In the tightest places they give way to another of their kind. And somehow we always get where we’re going safely and by the allotted time.

On a recent excursion by taxi to the Villa d’Este, several miles north of Rome, our driver, Gianni, gave new meaning to the words “multi-tasking”. He owned a fleet of some twenty taxis, and was in constant contact with his drivers on three cell phones, entering each call in a large notebook on his lap while driving.  He dispensed advice on the best routes from A to B, sent cabs to places where they were needed and in general kept track of his entire fleet, all the while gesturing and telling us all about the country side through which we were driving.  It was a brava performance. And the most amazing thing about it was that I was never once nervous. I’m normally a very nervous passenger. I much prefer to be in the driver’s seat. But I would have staked my life on this man’s ability to get us safely where we were going.

I’ve been in Rome countless times. In all those times, I’ve never seen a traffic accident. That says something about Rome drivers in general, and about Rome taxi drivers in particular.
So here’s to the taxi drivers of Rome!

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Following are my published novels. Go to my Goodreads page, to find more info and reviews.  

To purchase one of these books, just click on the book link below and select the vendor of your choice.
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COMING SOON!  Blair's latest novel, Romantic Road, is a romantic mystery set in Europe.  It is set for release in 2014!  Stay tuned.



Romantic Road ~ My latest novel takes you on a chase across Europe with our heroine who finds herself in a series of precarious situations.  She encounters a handsome stranger, but is he helping her, or is he dangerous?  This story has hair raising suspense, romance and a sprinkling of humour


To be released in 2014 through Wild Rose Press





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The Memory of Roses, Blair McDowell
 • The Memory of Roses ~ The story of a secret and how it impacts two generations of the McQuaid family.  It unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu and is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.


"The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell is simply an incredibly lovely story. It’s also a love story, and a story about finding yourself, and about closure. The theme running through the book is “all’s well that ends well.”  --  Marlene, Reading Reality


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Delighting In Your Company, Blair McDowell
 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

"Delighting In Your Company is a unique paranormal romance that brings together island folklore, history, and mystery with an unlikely romance between the past and present that had me going through a torrent of emotions and made it impossible to put down." -- The Romance Reviews


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Sonata, Blair McDowell
 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find some shocking situations 
~ A robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame;
~ Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; 
~ and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, is a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding the rich and beautiful Sayuri. 

It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?


“I found Sonata to be a charming novel that left me laughing out loud in parts and gnawing nails in others. It was a delight to read.” – Night Owl Reviews

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Abigail's Christmas, Blair McDowell
 • Abigail's Christmas (short story) ~ An enchanting tale of love and romance, with a magical touch of fantasy.
 
Abigail's Christmas is a holiday story about Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing! Is it real?  Is she dreaming?  Or is it just Christmas magic?


















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Blair McDowell