Pierluigi Marchionne is conducting. He is on his black and white striped pedestal in the middle of Piazza Venezia in the center of Rome and he is twirling around in the hot summer sun. A gloved hand flies into the air and with a dramatic gesture he sends a stream of traffic – tour buses, mopeds, taxis, and bicycles rumbling past. With the other white-gloved hand raised flat in the air, he holds back a line of traffic on Rome’s Via Del Corso.
He adeptly pivots around, stops the traffic on one side, and sends his arm in a gracious curve through the air indicating to the waiting traffic to move on through.
A crowd of tourists stop and stare in awe. They take pictures and videos.
I went out yesterday into the blistering Roman heat to do a story on new regulations for traffic cops put in place due to the high temperatures in the Eternal City. After some officers reported dizziness and blurred vision after hours standing out in the hot sun, the commander has ordered the cops to change shifts every two hours.
To our delight, when cameraman Gianfranco Stara, photographer Paola Barisani and I got down to Piazza Venezia to shoot the story we got front row seats for The Marchionne Show– a whirling dervish with elegant moves in the middle of Rome’s busiest piazzas.
There, in the cobblestoned Piazza, surrounded by Palazzo Venezia–where Mussolini once delivered his famous speeches– and the gigantic typewriter monument known as the “Altar of the Fatherland”, just down the street from the Coliseum, where Roman Emperors declared a gladiator’s fate with a thumb’s up or a thumb’s down, the show goes on. Fortunately the thumbs of the traffic cops are not so fateful for Roman drivers– and yes, sometimes it does feel like you are a gladiator in the ring with the lions when you are driving in Roman traffic.
Pierluigi Marchionne has recently become Rome’s most famous traffic cop.
Marchionne was standing on the pedestal last summer conducting traffic when Woody Allen came driving through looking for locations for his film “To Rome with Love” (see my blog post on that “Covering To Rome with Love“).
Yesterday Marchionne climbed down from the pedestal to tells us about it, “when Woody arrived in this fantastic place in the center of Rome and see ME up on the platform, well, he stopped the car, braked the car, exited from the car and speak with me and say ‘ok, I want YOU in my movie.”
Marchionne said he answered, “Yes We Can!” (Has he been listening to Obama campaign speeches?)
Here is the trailer for the film that opens with Marchione: “To Rome with Love” Trailer
Also, I cannot put AP Television videos on my blog, but check out this video someone else did with the Traffic cops orchestrating at Piazza Venezia: Roman Traffic Police
Post in: Italiano