Saturday, August 10, 2019
The Saturday Snapshot: Spanish Steps
Photos are persuasive in ways that words are not.
But can you have your opinion changed by your own photo, years after you took it?
I read in Thursday's New York Times a story about how it is now illegal to sit on Rome's famed Spanish Steps. Of course I was aghast. The steps are a tourist destination, a local hot spot, alive at night with music, with young people gathering, strumming guitars, maybe passing a bottle. One of the most dynamic spots in the city. And now the municipal paper shufflers are dispatching their carabinieri to stop it all—eight of them at one time, according to the NYT's count, blowing shrilly on whistles and handing out warnings—for now. Eventually offenders will have to pay a fine of 400 Euros; or $450.
Quite a lot, really.
I figured, I must have taken a photos of the crowded steps. And I did. The one above. If the line of girls in the foreground looks a little awkward, I seem to recall it was a school group, singing.
The Spanish Steps look ... crowded. Very crowded. And I seem to recall ... navigating them with difficulty. The place was certainly too jammed to linger.
So maybe the Roman authorities are onto something. It's tough, running a city. I can't repost the NY Times photo, but after the law went into effect, the Steps seem ... empty, desolate.
Me ... I would have gone for a compromise. The steps are wide. Run a chain on bollards down the left and right sides, leaving those for going up and down. Reserve the center portion for sitting. See how that works.
I mean, in Chicago, people flock to the Bean, crowding around it. It can be hard to get a good photo of yourself reflected in its mirrored skin, because of all the people around. I'd hate to see them cordon off the thing, because people were smudging the polished surface with their greasy hands. That's what the Bean's for, why it's loved. Cleared of humanity. the Spanish Steps are just a way to get up and down. I'm reluctant to go out on a limb and predict anything about a society as quirky at Italy. But I'll bet—or at least hope—the ban doesn't last.