Beggars on the Paris Metro and Italian Trains

Unlike the Paris Metro where sophisticated beggars enter a carriage and give a beautifully composed oration about their hardship, even impressing listeners with a nice use of the subjunctive, the beggars on Italian trains are virtually mute. Instead, they place on your knee, or on the seat opposite, a tiny scrap of paper which tells you about their three children and lack of home or job. As they’re always female, you get the impression that there’s a male in the background making a profit from them.

Comparing the two types of beggars, there’s a lesson to be learned, I think. Whereas the French are not naturally so generous as the Italians, they seem to fork out more on the Metro than the passengers of Trenitalia. Could it be their love of the language correctly spoken which persuades them to part with their cash|? I suspect Italians would pay more to hear a beggar sing an aria, but I hope it won’t happen.

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