Thursday, February 25

Business in Italy: Business Weak

Today I was catching up on the goings-on in my neighborhood, considering I had been absent for so long.  I mean, in the two months I was gone, a whole new building went up, trees were planted along a 200 meter strip (while the other square kilometer went barren, but hey, it’s still better than nothing), and they took down the long-standing and city-block long OPEL ASTRA sign perched high above a huge building.  I mean, is Opel still making cars anyway?  I don't think after 25 years of seeing that sign, I've ever seen one.

In a charming little park in nearby (and even more charming – if you only look at the architecture and not the people), Garbatella, they launched a free wifi service.  In December.  On a trial basis.
While I’m hoping the trial lasts 'til the good weather comes, my conspiracy theorist in me thinks that looks may be a bit deceving. Most likely, the ‘winner’ of this deal came under the old government, the new government has to let them in, but by allowing them to set up shop in winter, thus no hits, they can close them down where an ‘amico’ of the current city government gets the contract – just ripe for the summer pickings like figs off a tree.

I had previously reported that Rome also launched last November, their fabulous Tourist Angels service.  These are people on wildly decorated modern chariots
(Segways in disguise) who will cart around Piazza di Spagna and environs hoping
to help tourists. Whether they’ll race after the pickpocket who just swiped
your wallet is another story: probably not in their job description.  This, like the wifi service, is great news and a long time coming (give or take 2000 years, I’d say—Imagine: if they’d had these guys in the day, the Pantheon may never have been stripped of its bronze in broad daylight).
But, November?  When there are precisely 12 tourists?  Not to mention the 68 days of rain and the snowfall that followed (the ads alone should have been removed for false advertising).  Lends more credence to my conspiracy theory by the minute.

And, if you don’t believe me, as the Rome n’Bike guys.  The Spanish company, Cemusa had won the favour of someone somewhere and gotten those red bikes placed strategically all around Rome. On a trial basis.   
Rome’s Mayor later came out strongly in favor of this great service for citizens and tourists alike.  As well he should:  It was unceremoniously taken over by the city-owned transport company, ATAC. You know, the guys who bring us buses.  You’d think there’d be a conflict of interest somewhere in there, but who's counting?

And, judging from the fact that the Red bikes were stopped to give the green light to Green ones, well, hey - maybe there's nothing to my conspiracies at all -- it was all just meant to be.


Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Oh best of luck on that free wi-fi becoming permanent!

Also, if you'd like to exchange links, please email me at michellefabio5(at)gmail(dot)com :D

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Tourist Angels could become licensed as the people's ambulance when the stranieri crash from the red bikes, or crushed by a car.