National Geographic : 1970 Jun
To see and be seen, visitors and Ro mans pause for an aperitivo or an es presso at a crowded sidewalk cafe on Via Vittorio Veneto. Though plush hotels, shops, and fashionable cafes still line the avenue, it has changed charac ter. A decade ago, Federico Fellini's film La Dolce Vita used it as a setting for wild escapades, and the street became the haunt of the unconventional. Now many former habitues choose to sip their coffee elsewhere. In Rome, men always look-espe cially if the view includes feminine charms. The few who whistle or call out seductive phrases are disdained as pappagalli-parrots.Knee-length skirt identifies a girl of Rome, most of whom shun mini-skirts as undignified. "Imbecille! ... Idiota!" Furious screams and hand-to-hair combat erupt after a collision between auto and bus. White-gloved policeman separates the combatants while a passer-by takes over traffic control. Then, like a spent match, emotions expire, the drivers exchange names of insurers, and life goes on. To outsiders, such encounters look like comic opera, but Romans take driving seriously. Facing impossible traffic snarls and a scarcity of park ing lots, they adjust in their own individualistic way. Drivers often double-park illegally on side streets, leaving their keys with self-appoint ed attendants who rearrange and guard the vehicles day and night.