Street Vendors

Rome is no doubt one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Europe. Roman Empire left a legacy worth thousands of years of tremendous reputation and income for Italians.

People all over the world come in to wonder in front of countless of architectural buildings and different forms of art inherited from the roman era and no less famous renaissance and baroque eras.

Rome, like any other big city, is a place where tourism has it’s ugly, nasty side to it. Big crowds, long queues at important points of interest, strategically placed restaurants with poor service at inflated prices and ubiquitous street-traders.

I wander the streets a lot with my camera, every corner in Rome has something beautiful to capture but above that, every corner has literally one stall or a piece of fabric laid on the pavement with fake designer bags or at best African wooden statues and folding trays.  These guys come from different backgrounds; all arriving here hoping they will escape the reality of their countries and will be able to send little money back home to starving families.

Most of the times they are unlicensed, have created very smart strategies to run from Guardia di Finanzia (the authorities that are responsible for them not being on the streets) and they run fast because it seems like the police can’t catch them. I think, for reasons I wouldn’t want to know, the police doesn’t want to do more, they chase and scream at them but that is about all I have seen happening.  Episodes like I’ve just described take place around Vatican, Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori, you name it, everywhere the tourists are lurking.  A never-ending cat and mouse game!

You know you are visiting Rome when you notice blue lights floating thru the air.

Guys located in every piazza at night trying to sell luminescent devices that they would slingshot up into the air which would then float back to earth. Their target in the market must be children.

Street-vendors are universally accepted, in some places more than others, I know, but I have been many times bothered by the extension of the phenomenon in Rome. The guys are trying to make a living but so are the ones that managed to get proper paid jobs in many areas of the work market. Some of them are even funny and many times a lot better at customer service than the Italians themselves, but even more times they are harassing, following people around and use different tricks (they trick you into holding a rose for free apparently and then ask money for it).

I expected authorities of a country like Italy to deal with these kinds of issues with efficiency rather than ignorance but I guess this is a small one on their To-Do List considering the bitter state the country is at this very moment.

In the meantime, I go out and observe.