Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Agony and the Ecstacy

You know the one good thing about being in Europe is that when it comes to beggars, it’s not going to be black people doing it, at least in general. That’s because most black people are immigrants who have left wherever they are from in search of a better life, so the desire to beg is not really on the agenda. In fact as in New York City, many unskilled immigrants will tend to sell merchandise on the streets, often without a license. I’ve noticed that was what they were doing in it Rome. Young boys who would sell faux designer hand bags and other things and were often kept on the move as they were chased by the police over their wares. The Carabinieri would drive up outside the Vatican walls where many of these sellers were and with sirens blaring, drive after the long legged boys at a terrific rate of speed scattering them in all directions. It was like a case of ”run Forrest run” but with some color.

I remember seeing a story about this on 60 minutes late last year but I didn’t take much notice at the time. Apparently the police really aren’t concerned in arresting them, but more interested in keeping them moving from one area to another. It is a sort of dance of fools.

The real beggars are the ones that you’ll find outside of the Vatican or the Rome’s Central Terminal where they got me a couple of times. These are usually gypsies that hang out at the train stations looking for handouts for food. The ones at the Vatican are the cripples and I don’t mean to be PC. I’m not talking about the disadvantaged that have a touch of carpal tunnel or irritable bowel syndrome. I’m talking about old school cripples, the ones with limbs that point in five different directions east of Sunday, the ones that make you think this must be a scene in a biblical epic just waiting for Charlton Heston to come and save the day as they lay on the sidewalks with outstretched arms crying with tears in some incomprehensible form of babble.

It’s funny though, you would think that if you were a cripple and you are at the same spot that St Peter was killed and buried, you would be able to get some sort blessing that would cure you of your ails. I mean, if you can’t get healed there by the Holy Father then you can’t get healed anywhere. Anyway, I would show pictures of those people but I thought it would have been too much of an intrusion to take pictures of people in a dire moments of their lives while I stepped over them feeling uncompelled to share a few cents with them, so here are some other pictures of the area.

St Peter's Basillica
St Peter's Square

The Swiss Guard

Baldachin Alter

the Foot of St Peter
Michelangelo's Pieta


  1. The HUGE plasma TV screen in pic #2 made me die just a little on the inside. Do we really need such a huge display of technology right there? Otherwise... Beautiful just beautiful! I wish I could stay in Europe for 6 months just so I could see it all.

    Thanks for reminding me to pack an extra bag for all the new handbags I'm going to score while I'm there ;)

    LOL @ "I’m talking about old school cripple, the ones with limbs that point in five different directions east of Sunday" You know you're wrong, but it's still funny!

    I'm wondering if the two folks with backpacks are tourists and if so, why they don't know about the professional pick-pockets... Guess they will learn...

    Hope you are having a great time ~

  2. The pictures are awesome, love it! Hey the beggars are everywhere, and so are the handbag hustlers and they actually sell a great deal of them just look around at the women in my office building,they travel just to get those knock-off bags.

  3. I wanna go so badly! Uggghhh I'm so envious of you right now!

    the street beggars over there are the huslers ova here!

  4. The situation with most black immigrants is the same, here in Spain. You'll find most are "illegal", selling DVDs and all sorts of accessories on the streets (and doing fairly well out of it, as far as I can see - the old Spanish ladies love a good bargain). I've been thinking about how to approach the issue on my blog for some time, and there you are making salient points in two paragraphs... Thanks for the inspiration/showing me up

  5. Dusty Boots - Thanks, I only wished that I had time to get that lens that you have but no one had it in stock where ever I checked and I didn't have time to wait for a delivery.

    RunningMom - Well look at it this way, it's because of the technology that the Pope doesn't have to scream and jump up and down and wave his arms on the balcony in order for people to see and hear him. And at his age that can't be good for him.

    And if you are looking for fake designer bags I would suggest Canal St in Manhattan, at least there you can haggle in a language that you understand.

    As for the backpackers, who's to say that they're not wearing money belts or stuffed their underwear with cash, or like me not carrying anything that they can't afford to lose.

    Chet - I don't get it. If something goes wrong who are you going to take it back to? And who are these women trying to impress, people who don't know the real thing from the knock-offs, why bother?

    fuzzy - I guess it really is true that people and things are really the same where ever you go. They just have a different accent.

    Sanya - That's what I'm here for, lol.

  6. Just checking out new blogs today -I'm really impressed with yours. Love the pics!

    Years ago, I was in London and was saddened how many homeless were on the streets. I saw too many women and children sleeping under blankets in the dead of winter. What struck me the most was how people just walked by...

  7. KST - Thanks for dropping by. Yes you are right, compared to what London was during the 70's, the homeless problem has become an epidemic. But that has been the case for most cities here in the US and maybe elsewhere around the world.

    What I would say though in Rome was that there were a few people sleeping on the streets but most of the others who were begging were doing it as a profession rather than out of neccesity.

  8. Your welcome Curious!

    Yeah, I can see your point about those in need vs. those who beg as a living. Still sad... But, it does remind me of the "homeless" guy that used to beg outside of my apartment building. I ran into him at the gas station - he was putting gas into his car which was nicer than mine! ; )

  9. KST - Lol, now that's a swift kick of Sense and Sensibility for you.

    I wasn't saying that there are a lot of crazy people out there who are difficult to help, but there even more people just working the system and holding the sympathies of yours and mine hostage.


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