From what I’ve observed, Italians are in love with authority. Nothing makes them happier to announce that something is ‘forbidden’ or ‘inaccessible’ . However, at times, the rules are not immediately apparent.
In Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, for instance, I went behind a chair to climb up some steps to look out a window. All hell immediately broke loose amongst the three attendants. “Signorina no, no! It is dangerous!”
Surely yelling at me, and startling me so I nearly fall down the stairs is more dangerous?
“You should have a rope across there, or a sign so people know not to go up”, I say to one of them trying to regain my dignity.
“No madam,” he says looking stern, “There is a chair in front and we are here to say ‘no’, “ as if this is a much better system.
Some shopkeepers also seem to work on the premise that ‘the customer is always wrong and we are always right’. Which is odd since the customer, especially in the summer months, is the tourist, and it would be a lot more fruitful for them to give ‘service with a smile’, instead of ‘service with a grimace’.
However, it must be annoying for Italians, especially when tourists intrude on their two hour lunch break. A couple of girls at my hostel learnt the hard way when trying to buy postcards right on afternoon closing time.
They were ‘hummmpfed’ at several times and then smartly escorted to the door by the gentleman concerned. I don’t think he even cared they didn’t buy the postcards. Rules are rules after all.