Sunday, March 2, 2014

Don't ride in rickshaws!

The motorized passenger rickshaw is a three-wheel vehicle common on the streets of Italian cities, especially in the South. In Sicily, you'll see them in Palermo and Siracusa, where the drivers give rides to tourists.

In Siracusa's serene Ortygia district, which is partly closed to traffic and where the courteous drivers guide you at a moderate pace, a leisurely rickshaw ride through the narrow streets of the ancient city is usually enjoyable. That's how it should be.

But in Palermo that is not the case. There have been some serious traffic accidents and injuries involving rickshaws in Palermo, though (thus far) no fatalities as far as we know, and the drivers are less polite than those of Siracusa. In this chaotic city, where the rickshaw drivers speed through the streets, you board one of these vehicles at your own risk. Even if you survive the ride, you stand to be overcharged on the fare.

The Palermo rickshaw drivers don't just park in a convenient area (those in Siracusa prefer the square next to the cathedral), but instead circulate the old part of town in search of prey. They actually drive up alongside pedestrians and try to coax them into boarding - these are desparate times and some drivers may practically insist that you purchase their services! Just ignore them.

You have been warned.

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