Giovedì, 20 Settembre 2018
ROME

New pope could mean more business for street vendors

English
© ANSA

(by Emanuela De Crescenzo).
Rome, March 13 - As Catholic pilgrims, the
international media, and the curious all mix in St. Peter's
Square, watching for white smoke from the Vatican announcing a
new pope, some street vendors say they are just as interested.
A new pope, especially someone from outside Europe who will
generate a buzz of new interest and activity, could be very good
for business, vendors say.
And with the recession that has been gripping much of the
world but hitting Italy especially hard, these
micro-businesspeople need all of the help they can get.
The conclave that began Tuesday inside the Sistine Chapel
adjacent to St. Peter's Basilica - the spiritual home of the
Catholic Church and the centre of the election of a new pontiff
- has brought in thousands of people from around the world.
That should be good for these vendors, who are offering
every kind of souvenir related to the Catholic church generally,
and Vatican City specifically.
But vendors say business has fallen dramatically as most
visitors are now waiting to see who the next pope will be, and
only then perhaps buy some memorabilia with the new pontiff's
image.
"Since this morning, we are selling only water. People
don't even stop to buy a key chain," said a 25-year-old street
vendor walking in Piazza Pio XII, who gave his name only as
Emanuele.
Store owners and restaurants are also feeling the pinch,
saying that unlike the periods around previous conclaves,
visitors to Rome this year are being very careful with their
spending.
Still, like the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world,
many of the vendors are interested in who the new pontiff will
be and where he will come from.
Apart from nationality, many say their model of a good pope
was John Paul II: a man with charisma, who reached out and
touched people of all ages, from all walks of life and all
nationalities.
They also report that he was good for business; John Paul's
popularity meant that he moved merchandise.
In fact, they say, visitors to the Vatican soaked up
souvenir items connected with John Paul to a greater extent than
anything connected with Pope Emeritus Benedict, whose retirement
on February 28 shocked the world and triggered the current
conclave.
Vendors say that within 24 hours of a new pope being
elected to replace Benedict, a whole new line of souvenirs -
from candles to rosaries and religious medallions - will be
available, bearing the image of the next leader of the Catholic
church.
Even small paintings with the image of the new pope will be
available very quickly, vendors say, although more complex items
such as calendars and books will take longer to produce.
"We are not suppliers, so I think we will have to wait for
representatives to come with new items in about 10 days," says
Giorgia, 47, who works in a shop on the corner of Via della
Conciliazione.
Vincenzo, who also has a shop, and his wife both think that
a non-European pope would be a welcome change of image for the
Catholic church.
Someone from a different sort of background, and a
different part of the world could be "much more engaging" and
therefore, more marketable than the long stream of European
pontiffs.
Luigi, another shop owner, agrees.
"I am rooting for an African pope because I think that an
Italian pope...would be, commercially, a disaster".

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