During my tours of Florence, while I’m showing to my guests a detail on a Renaissance building or a gorgeous statue in Piazza della Signoria, I’m often interrupted by gypsies and other beggars that sometimes can be really pushy. They pretend they are hungry but if you want to offer them a sandwich they will refuse it and ask you for money. I’ll tell you why. These people are taken every day in the city center of Florence and forced to beg for somebody else that doesn’t really live in poverty. They get food and a place to sleep and all day long they have to gather the money that their “bosses” take away from them at the end of the day. Many of them come from Romania, Bulgaria or other Eastern countries, but they are not Romanians or Bulgarians, they have a different citizenship and a different culture that has nothing to do with the country of origin. Many people make the mistake of considering gypsies Romanian citizens and for this reason they think that all Romanians are thieves, pickpockets etc… Well, this is far from the truth, the gypsy population in Romania is considered an Ethnic minority with a specific social, cultural and economic situation. Anyway, even if I feel sorry for them, I prefer to ignore them and not support the criminals behind them who take advantage of their situation.
The street sellers instead are originally from Africa or Asia and even if they don’t pay taxes for the items they are selling, at least they try to make a living in a decent way instead of begging or stealing. Many times the authorities suggest us to denounce this type of illegal commerce, but they don’t offer an alternative to these people who left their countries because of civil wars or real poverty state.