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ROME - In 1979, an up-and-coming Irish rock band called The Boomtown Rats released their biggest hit, which was titled “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Here in Rome, if you were to poll restaurant and coffee bar owners around the Vatican, you’d find a similar sentiment but a different day of the week.
Here it’s Wednesdays that tend to leave a bad taste, because it’s the day of the weekly papal audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Yesterday - Co-owner - Morning - Haunt - Via
Yesterday, the co-owner of a favorite morning haunt on the Via di Porta Cavalleggeri, across the street from one of the principal entrances to the Vatican, actually tried to talk me into moonlighting on Wednesdays as her bouncer, blocking access to the hordes of tourists who show up wanting only to use the bathroom, beg a free cup of water or ask directions.
This may seem a counter-intuitive reaction, since shopkeepers generally rejoice when major events bring unusually large numbers of potential customers into their neighborhoods.
Herein - Fault - Lines - Roman - Entrepreneurs
Herein, however, lies one of the major fault lines among Roman entrepreneurs. Owners of religious goods stores, for instance, will tell you that being close to the flame is usually great for business, as will the hustling class of people (usually foreign-born) who run small mini-marts around the Vatican, as they often do a brisk trade in bottled water and ice-based refreshments on days when the pope draws a crowd.
Restauranteurs and the proprietors of coffee bars (especially slightly nicer ones) generally have a different take, as do cab drivers and hotel owners. If you’re ever in the mood to hear an Italian-inflected rant, just ask a Roman cabbie what he or she thinks of big papal events.
Version - Pilgrims - Town - Buses - Cabs
What you’re likely to hear is some version of the following: “These pilgrims come to town on big buses, so they don’t take cabs and they make...
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