The City of Florence has decided to take action following the recent attack on a police officer by an unauthorized vendor at the Uffizi and the so-called siege of beggars currently taking over Santa Maria Novella railway station.
For years, the station has been inundated with beggars pleading with tourists and commuters for money. In recent years, the problem has spiralled out of control, with countless individuals falling victim to thieves and pickpockets. Starting July 19, the railway police began erecting barriers, surrounding the ticket booths and blocking off the platforms for the high-speed trains to anyone not in possession of a ticket.
There have been instances of Romany women offering to help passengers to load their luggage on to the train before desperately asking for money in exchange for the service. Others hassle travellers using the ticket machines by offering assistance or simply begging while customers are engaged in their purchase.
Some are now complaining that the mendicants have simply moved to the commuter train platforms and that the problem persists, while others applaud the introduction of the Tendiflex for increasing security and order at the station:
“I think it is helpful to protect people from being cheated while they are in line.”
– Guillaume, France
“I think it’s a good idea; it also gives guidance to people waiting in line.”
– Megan, USA
This new measure is especially helpful to tourists who are most often duped into accepting help without necessarily expecting to pay for it, but what about local commuters who will now be subject to harassment in even higher concentration given that roughly half of the platforms are now blockaded?