Ok, ok.. some of them are true but some other are at least to be updated as they reflected habits of a society running too fast to let the cliché consolidate, marking and connote a population.
If we should do a list of the most commonplaces about the romans I'd put at the first place in the ranking the traffic.. what comes out is mainly that every tourist is impressed by the way we drive. Many of them tell the story of how they decided to close their eyes once on a taxi on their way from the airport to the city. You have to know, first of all, that if you have the impression that Rome seems a city apparently with no traffic rules, go to Naples, where we say “if you can drive in Naples you can drive everywhere”. Can you see?? I fell into the same trap.. express my self through clichès.. At the end it is everyone's habit, we make fun of the english and australians driving, for our point of view, on the wrong side of the street. Going back to our cousins, the Neapolitans, I feel compelled to say something in their defense and extending this consideration to all my countrymen. Our is not lack of rules, it is simply different rules we learn day by day.. one thing is learning the traffic laws another is put them into practice. Mine is not an invitation to break the rules, but just a chance to make some considerations and smile a bit on stereotypes! Our is a city with mazy narrow alleys where even if we have lanes it is rare to have a straight stretch long enough to preselect the lane so at the end we go wherever we find space! Even more hectic is the way the motorcyclists drive, the small size, the easy mobility of motorbikes make this even more evident. Car drivers on the other hand can easily expect someone to appear suddenly on their lane from right or left and they are prepared to this as they do the same and so have a lot of practice!! What an efficient way to prevent road accidents!! It is like having an unwritten code with self-regulations!
Connected with the same cliché is the use of roundabouts causing the hilarity of overseas tourists to the point of becoming a clichè of a cartoon itself teasing the clichès of the Americans, the Simpsons! Homer keeps turning around as he can not find the right exit off the roundabout.
But know let's try to pass to the pedestrians' point of view literally scared as they have to cross the streets in Rome. There's only one rule for the crossing in Rome and dictated by the common sense, by that above unwritten code, first of all always use the pedestrian crossings and when you do it, DON'T HESITATE, if they see you shy they go first, it is a battle of nerves, only the brave, a strategy of survival!!
Finally, on the issue of traffic, the parking.. I would define it creative, like seeing the smart cars parked perpendicularly to the other cars, vehicles in second or even third row, or people parking in an evidently criminal way and then write on a piece of paper that the car is broken to avoid fines!!
Last but not least an alternative to the use of your own vehicle, the public transport; let's make a big distinction between underground and overground. The first category is quite efficient if you avoid the rush hours, the problem is that there are only 2 lines for a city of around 4 millions of people! About the second category, well, I wouldn't suggest it even to my worst enemy!! buses in particular, because of lack of control and not so many people paying the tickets, are permanently overcrowded and so it is much better to take a walk and enjoy the city on foot.
Now let's focus on another commonplace, the body gesture.. the more you go south of Italy the more this is evident, we can definitely consider Rome as a southern city for many aspects, this included. I'll try a courageous defense in order to support my cause as italian.. my attempt will be to connect this habit to history trying to dignify it! In ancient Rome at the forum the politicians on their podium in front of the crowd of curious, among the strategies to render their speeches more convincing, they used to move their body as there were no microphones. The connection between a quality speech and the contribution of the body gesture to obtain a perfect performance in front of the audience it is very well described in many ancient latin works of illustrious names like Cicero, Horace and Quintilian. Especially the last one with his Institutio Oratoria, among the purposes of his work there's also to provide techniques for the young orator to involve the feelings of the audience through the use of his body.
Let me end with something that is really in our DNA, it is a cliché but this time really positive, ingrained, peculiar.. it is our friendly attitude, hospitality, acknowledged by tourists from all over the world, the only real cliché to be proud of!