Stand by me

Street sellers risk extinction in monumental squares

Editorial Staff
November 29, 2007

Itinerant street vendors are outraged over a move by Italian Culture minister Francesco Rutelli to banish stands from important monumental squares throughout the country. In a nationwide circular sent to municipal, provincial and state institutions weeks ago, Rutelli called for an action plan to combat ‘urban degradation’ that specifically targets both legal and illegal street vendors.

Rutelli wants city halls to prohibit stands, both legal and illegal, from ruining the aesthetics of some of Italy’s most celebrated piazzas and monuments. However, itinerant merchants possessing legal licenses to operate stands and kiosks in public squares argue that their livelihood would be at risk if this happens.

Street vendors in the city are  up in arms over the prospect of having to move their stands to another location. The high-traffic piazzas are their bread and butter—a lack of customers means a lack of business.

‘If they get rid of stands, then they get rid of jobs. Italy is in an employment crisis at the moment and instead our government is thinking up ways to help us lose our jobs’, said an outraged vendor in Florence’s Piazza dell Repubblica.Street vendors in the city are up in arms over the prospect of having to move their stands to another location. The high traffic piazzas are their bread and butter—a lack of customers means a lack of business.

Vendors with legal permits already pay a hefty sum for spots in monumental piazzas, and strict regulations limit the size and height of their stands. For example, rent in Piazza della Repubblica can cost up to 700 euro a month.

Secretary of the National Itinerant Vendors Association, Lapo Cantini, unsuccessfully attempted to calm the vendors with an explanation. According to Cantini, because Florence’s municipal laws were approved having taken these issues into consideration, street vendors in the city should not face any difficulty following Rutelli’s directive.

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