Since native son Dante pronounced them a malicious, miserly and ungrateful lot in the Inferno, Florentines have not enjoyed a reputation for friendliness.
City officials hope to change this with the “Courtesy Point” initiative. The tourists that double and sometimes treble the local population can look for this special orange logo written in English to find visitor-friendly establishments.
In a town where it is easier to stumble upon a Renaissance treasure than find a working pay phone or a café owner who doesn’t keep the rest room under lock and key, the idea is long overdue. A detailed map, free at tourist information centers, shows what amenities besides courtesy are available, including disabled access, taxi booking and bus tickets.
There are 76 establishments currently adhering, ranging from historic hangout of Futurist artists Le Giubbe Rosse to hipster club Cardillac Cafè. Business owners were inspired perhaps more by incentives than a philosophy about random acts of kindness: they were given non-recoverable grants to spruce up locales, especially the rest rooms.
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It’s very interesting… from one side i can see why florentines are a bit cold to outsiders because of the constant year round invasion, but on the other side without tourists the city and most of the businesses would struggle. Customer service in florence is different than other countries… in my observations some store owners know they have an endless line of clients so why should they have to be kind or ‘customer serving’ when it doesn’t matter to them if you hate it and never come back (chances are you won’t come back anyway)… with this mentality customer service or acts-of-kindness will always be hit-or-miss.
hit-or-miss, some experiences i’ve had have been great… others left me shaking my head.
so what does ‘courtesy point’ really tell people coming to visit, is it the right message… or just another way to get some ‘grant’ money?