Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Flea Market

We arrived in Rome on Sunday morning, and immediately headed to the apartment we’d rented.

Alas, it was still in the process of being cleaned for us, so we were out on the streets – fortunately, without our bags – for a couple of hours.

And fortunately, after a bit of a meander around and about the Spanish Steps, we founded a perfectly nice restaurant and had a perfectly nice lunch. In truth, I think we settled on this restaurant because it was one of the few places in this heavily touristic area – especially crowded on a spring Sunday – where there was not a maitre d’ or waiter out front barking. What a turnoff? Truly, does this ever work as a means to lure someone in? To me, a complete and utter turn-off.

Back at the apartment, we all took brief but reviving naps before heading out once again.

On this walk, which took us to the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, we passed through an outdoor market specializing in tourist-ready kitsch.

If you’re looking for your 2013 Pope Benedict calendar, the Pope John Paul II bobble-head, or an apron designed to look like a Roman centurion with a bare chest (quite ripped), I know where you can get them.

As we browsed the stands, I noticed something that I will say shocked me: a number of them were selling kitchen magnets and/or posters of Benito Mussolini.


What would be the U.S. equivalent here?

KKK paraphernalia, perhaps?

There are no doubt some venues in our country where that kind of stuff would be for sale, but it sure wouldn’t be in the public market, in a major tourist area.


Okay, as totalitarian dictators go, he was nowhere near in the same league as Hitler, Stalin, or Kim Jong-Il. More of the tin-pot dictator variety. But he kept some pretty bad company (c.f., Hitler, Tojo), and ran a pretty repressive regime for a pretty impressive length of time.

Anyway, I wouldn’t imagine hope that there are many takers for trinkets like Mussolini fridge magnets (with a choice of several poses, including one where he’s giving the fascist salute). Unless there’s some sort of sentimental feeling about fascism emerging, which probably wouldn’t be all that surprising given the economy. Not that we’re seeing black shirts in the street, but you never know what might be brewing. After all, Benito put food on the table and got the trains to run on time. (Or not.)

Still and all, odd to see Mussolini souvenirs for sale.


trixie said...

Is this a warning that we may be seeing some of these items at this year's Xmas Yankee Swap?

katrog said...

We took a Venice to Bologna bike trip a few years ago and ended up staying in Castrocara Terme, an hour or so from Bologna. One of the "treats" on offer was a tour of Mussolini's own suite at the hotel. Pretty drab by today's standards, but completely weird as a tourist attraction. The other lovely thing about the hotel was that it was also a medical spa, and the breakfast room was full of German's in bathrobes.