Whozits and Whatzits Galore at the Spanish Steps

Rome’s Spanish Steps are one of the big sights to see in the city, and I’m not sure why.  I guess they’re pretty photogenic, as far as steps go.  They’re definitely more impressive than my apartment building’s stairwell.  But they’re still just steps.  They don’t light up when you walk on them or move like Hogwarts’ staircases.  The same thing happens when you walk up the Spanish Steps as when you walk up non-Spanish Steps.  You go from one altitude to another, possibly sweating along the way.  I still liked seeing them, though, because the piazza where they are had some of the hardest selling merchants I’ve ever encountered.

All the sightseers relaxing on the steps had to continuously turn away these wandering businessmen.  These guys sold the go-to tourist trinkets.  Bouncy balls, plastic doodads that light up, noisemakers.  You know, authentic Italian merchandise.  A few stuck to selling just one item: roses.  These sellers were the most interesting to watch.  They had a whole little dance they’d do.  A merchant would give a person a rose and not charge them for it.  It would look like he was just doing it as an Italian ambassador of good will, spreading joy to all foreigners visiting his fair city.  Then, once the “customer” started walking away with the rose, the merchant would follow him, and he would either have to pay for the rose or give it back.  It’s like these guys gave people a little rose test drive for free.  “Take that rose around the block.  See how it handles.  I know you’ll be impressed by its performance.”

I never saw anyone actually buy a rose from one of these guys, but I had to admire their work ethic.  Handing out a rose, chasing after the rose, handing out the rose again.  They were smart at targeting people, too.  They’d go for the guy with the girl on his arm.  A classic maneuver.  The guy wants to look good in front of his girl, so he buys her the rose.  I wonder how many relationships have ended over the guy handing the rose back?

Sep 2011
POSTED BY travelbugrobert

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