A walk through the market and you’ll pass East Indian vendors selling identical purses, belts and wallets while Americans haggle in their mid-western accents for souvenirs for their kids back home. Further along the cobblestone street and you’ll come across the jewel of Florence—the beautiful red, white and green marbled Duomo. Tourists of every nationality are taking selfies (us included!) while men in military uniforms roam around observing, keeping the streets clear of Roma and refugees, who as a result, are out of sight.
A walk to the back of the Duomo and one gets a sense of keeping up appearances: the facade gleams, while the back of this jewel is faded, bruised and abandoned by tourists. But that’s what we’re here for—the gleam not the grime.
Admittedly, my last trip to Florence I was overwhelmed by Roma, keeping heavy guard of my wallet, but this time I felt at ease snapping pictures and admiring the detail of the marble. I know these feelings are problematic and without commenting on the state of Italian politics, you can’t help but wonder where the Roma and refugees are? Much of our overall experience of Italy was without the presence of these figures that so animated my experience of this country only a few years ago.