In response to ‘Share the streets,' TF 153
First I would just like to say thank you for sending me your issues over these past years ... It is my only contact with Florentine news since moving back to New York last year. I am appreciative and have never felt compelled to respond to anything written in your columns.
However, I must respond to your cover story, which ended in a question regarding whether or not there should be ‘sidewalk zoning' for tourists. Seeing no place for an answer, I will place it here and hope someone will pay attention to it ... What is this world coming to? How stupid is this? The territoriality ingrained so deeply in humans and the increasingly strict border regulations around the world have now filtered down to municipalities such as these. Firstly, do you think anyone will really stay in the lines? Feet are not bicycles and the innate human spirit of walking freely will prevail. What they did in New York was a prank, and a prank for a reason.
Second, having lived in tourist towns in Italy for over 15 years, I understand well the frustrations of ‘tourist season,' but I looked upon it in the end not only as an asset, a blessing enriching the economy, but as an opportunity for the cultural enrichment of those visiting to therefore increase understanding. Having received a master's degree in museum studies, where tourist management is a part of the curriculum, [I have learned that] these issues are being addressed and I trust solutions will be found. But ‘sidewalk fencing' is definitely not one of them.
J. M. Cowdin
In response to ‘Florence from the inside,' TF 153
I appreciated Julie Butterfield's article about the issue of tour groups clogging Florence's streets, but I think an important point was missed. It is one thing for two tour groups to battle for space, but another thing for Florentine residents to have to battle large groups just to move down the road. I find it infuriating every time I try to walk or bike down a street and the entire span of that street is occupied by members of a tour group-and this happens quite a bit.
I think a very simple solution could be to place some responsibility with tour guides. How complicated could it be to ask tour participants to stand to the side of the road so others can pass, for the guides to make sure their groups are not blocking traffic entirely? Or to ask tour participants to heed bells of bikes wishing to pass, or show some respect and move aside for those on foot who need to pass the group? I think this is actually a serious issue, and tour guides should take more responsibility for their groups. There must be ways to keep the tourist industry booming while accommodating those who actually live in and run this city.
Emma Greenspan, Florence resident