Ok… let me start by saying – it was totally my fault and I should have known better. Now that I’ve eaten that slice of humble pie, let me tell you all what happened to me outside the Duomo Cathedral in Florence.
I was down to my last few hours in the city, so I decided to wander around and squeeze in as much touristy stuff as I could before I had to head to the airport.
Now, I’d seen a few people getting their portraits done by local street artists and considered getting one myself…if I was going to do it, it was now or never. Against my better judgement, I approached a street artist sitting outside the cathedral and began to question him about the work he had on display. Here were the warning signs I should have paid attention to:
1. He was super arrogant and boastful about the little work he did have on display…overly so.
2. When I finally agreed and sat down, he began yelling at a woman and children that were sitting on the bench behind us. When I told him to stop immediately, his response was “they’re just tourists”. I told him that we are all just tourists in other peoples countries and then I helped the woman and her kids. Not sure why I didn’t just leave then 😩
3. I kept looking in his sunglasses at the reflection of what he was drawing, and it looked like trash but I wasn’t sure if it was distorted by his lenses.
4. People kept stopping and staring with very amused looks on their faces.
When it was finally done. He turned it around and showed it to me:
I told him it looked like a lion and nothing like what he had on display. He began to yell that he would never draw what he had on display for such a small price (€30…not small at all)…and in such a small amount of time.
A group of people started to gather…I began asking others if it looked like me, to which one man answered, “more or less”.
With people around me, I was faced with the dilemma of whether to pay this crook or not.
It kept going through my mind that black people can’t get away with throwing public tantrums and that individuals tend to then represent the whole race. If I didn’t pay him it’d become, black people are the worst tourists…or some other stupid generalization to that effect. So I paid him…for the worst possible reason, which really put a bad taste on my whole Italian experience.