There are heaps of stories to tell about France and Italy. Today, on the way to work I'm most reminded about the 'human shield' principle of crossing Italian streets.
Many people freak out about Italian streets - and for the most part, they freak out for a very good reason; those streets are damn scary. But if you apply the 'human shield' principle, you'll at least be safe, if not partly cushioned from impact when a bus or a car comes ploughing into you.
When you want to cross a street, simply position yourself next to another pedestrian aligning yourself such that - in the event of an impact - they sustain the full force of the blow. The key to this of course is choosing another pedestrian who is 'native' to the area; they will be the best judge of when to step out and attempt a street crossing.
Remember, there are safety in numbers; if possible cross with a large group. Always remember to put them between you and on-coming traffic. A large crossing group also presents itself to oncoming traffic more assertively than a small group of of two or three.
Two is better than one though; are you crossing with a human shield?