9 June 2013 The GFC and Beggary
I would say that Italy leads in the tourism stakes. We haven’t seen such tourist hoards – like those in Florence – in Spain or Asia. It is not something we like to encounter but, perhaps oddly, the beggars are comparatively few. They are still a problem for us, the old dilemma – so I’ve currently chosen to ignore them all.
Our new-found friend on the train to Firenze was very critical of his government and believed the mafia was still very much in control – yet far more sophisticated in their organisational operations than of old. He wasn’t happy with his country’s embrace of capitalistic consumerism either. He’s on the ball. While he still has work, his wages are subject to 47% income tax (he is not a high earner) and many of his friends have lost their jobs. Yep, the workers are getting screwed to pay for the follies of the big financiers. But you knew that . . . To be quite honest, to us as casual observers, we see no immediate evidence of the Crisis. Sure, there are a few beggars but we get them in Perth too (well, there are quite a few gypsies begging for a living too – don’t get many of them in Perth:). There are lots of migrants here, both hanging-about the streets and in business, but that is not unusual or new either. Our friend did, however, indicate and give evidence that the Crisis was biting, and who am I to disagree. The statistics support is claim.
I talk to the trees. But they don’t listen to me . . . I feel a song coming on – it’s an Italian thing.
Ah, the trees. The street trees on Bologna are amazingly verdant. I don’t know what type they are but they are quite striking in their leafiness and many have strong-scented blossoms. (Could also be because it’s spring 🙂 Their planting and continued well-being is evidenced in the fact that each, spaced a careful 5 metres apart, has a unique number. There are also many strange (to me) and attractive large conifers all over the place. Some Bolognese (or it may just be a Tuscany thing) bureaucrats must love trees.