Bangladesh Rose Street Vendors in Italy
Visitors of Italy soon realize that just as inescapable as the marble statues, the Bangladesh street vendors present themselves with no less frequency, albeit much less regal. The Bangladeshi specialize in selling roses to tourists on the streets, and they are quite aggressive with their sales strategies, working all the touristy places, popular restaurants, etc. Their modus operandi is to target men in the evening with their significant others who either want to score some extra points by giving their dates roses over a bottle of wine, or who simply acquiesce to maintain the chivalrous persona they set out to achieve. Whether you are holding hands with your loved one near the Trevi Fountain in Rome, or eating with your spouse at a restaurant in Venice, the Bangladeshi will come right up to you with a bouquet of roses, trying to sell.
Known by Italians as Rosari, visitors often get frustrated, comparing the Rosari to gnats who never leave you alone. It is true that they can be annoying, but visitors should realize that annoying is the worst of it. They are generally not dangerous and they do not steal (although they will try to overcharge you for a rose, which is why it is acceptable to negotiate). Their practices are largely accepted by Italians, with restaurant owners tolerating their evening invasions, and police often turning their cheeks. They are not to be confused with gypsies, who have a reputation for begging, pick-pocketing and stealing. The Bangladeshi provide a service.
At first, and as a frequent visitor of Florence, I wasn’t sure if the presence of the Bangladeshi was only a Florentine thing, but over the past few years in my travels all throughout Italy, I’ve noticed them everywhere. In fact, Italy has the second largest Bangladeshi community in Europe, with approximately 122,000 residents. So if you see the Rosari during your next trip to Italy and if you think roses might woo your significant other, then the convenience of having an ever-present flower vendor will be perfect for you; however, if you simply do not want to be bothered, the best way to handle it is to politely inform the Rosari, “no thank you” (although you may need to say it four or five times before he gives up).
For me, even though I personally find them to be annoying, I understand that it is their job and like all aggressive sales people, sometimes you feel your space being invaded. Aside from their sales methods, however, I have always found them to be friendly people. If any of my readers have had similar experiences, or you want to share how you handled an encounter with a Rosari, please share.
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Upon our trip to Italy, we saw only artists with their wares out in the street, and “Africans” selling a fake Rolex. They wanted to haggle..but there never was a threat. They gypsy pick pockets were a lot more aggressive, and had no problem jamming their hands in your pocket. One person not in our group in such a confrontation just slapped the guy in the face, and they backed off. Let’s face it…..if your at a craft fair in the U.S… you don’t even respond to people trying to sell you something. If we want we buy….if not we move on. Italy’s street vendor needs to be aggressive to survive….another thought, the lack of enforcement by the Italian police just support the vendors quest without fear of arrest……..well, how much lemonade did you sell at your stand when you were a kid….