Who’s Who Italy: The Rose Peddler

The rose peddler is male and mostly from Bangladesh. When or how this nationality cornered the market is a mystery. He begins work in the afternoon and continues offering his bouquet of red roses until the early hours of the morning in a seasonal routine that runs from late spring until early autumn. His traditional haunts are iconic monuments that attract tourists and in Rome, where the profession thrives, you can spot him scouting the Spanish Steps (above), Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. At night his tactics change and he stalks the outdoor tables of restaurants targeting young couples that make up the bread and butter of his trade.

The Rose Peddler‘s silent sales technique consists in offering a single stem to a woman in the hope her companion will feel obliged to purchase. It’s a hard pitch to resist and the peddler is acutely aware of the pavlovian instinct humans have to accept whatever is handed them. That and an endless churn of tourists willing to pay €1 for a rose keeps the rose peddler in business. Holding a stem however can quickly become a nuisance for visitors and leaves the bearer’s hand perpetually occupied unless petals are confined to a backpack or purse where they risk destruction.

A great rose peddler on a lucky night can earn up to €50 but most average much less and supplement their financial existence hawking umbrellas when it rains and cheap nicknaks that attract the eyes of children. Most peddlers are supplied by florists who operate kiosks throughout Italian cities and charge significantly more than the rose peddler albeit for a much wider botanic offering.

Should you wish to purchase a rose ensure the one being offered is of the best quality. The peddler always hands prospects the rose he has held and handed back and forth for hours. Ask to chose from the bouquet and depending on the hour for a better deal if the price sounds excessive or make an offer on the entire bouquet to truly impress. If however you have a different vision of romance a shake of the head is usually enough to send the peddler off in search of a sale.

Moon Rome Florence & Venice


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