Saturday, May 30, 2015

Market Day: Crowds, Part Deux

“Shopping is a woman thing. It's a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase.”   ~ Erma Bombeck

"You dirty b@5t@rd!"  I heard the woman shouting (in Italian) before I saw her.  The massive crowd hid her from my view, but a man pushed through followed by the red-faced woman.  "Gobbledy gook Gobbledy gook. F#¶K you! F#¶K you! F#¶K you!"   (Sometimes it pays to know Italian words. I wish I could have understood everything she said.)

I have no idea what the guy did to enrage the gal, but he hurried along as she berated him for quite some time. I was halfway up the huge aisle before I couldn't hear them any longer.  What amazed me the most about this entire incident wasn't that the woman screamed at the man but that the crowd completely ignored both of them. No one stopped to stare, and except for a few who gave them a cursory glance, most people didn't even stop what they were doing. Market day is serious business in Italy.

I don't quite know why the European markets attract me. I don't tend to buy much—although I can't deny buying a beautiful scarf or two or three at times—but I love wandering through them week-after-week.  While I prefer the food markets, I also enjoy the general markets, too. The amount of stuff available for sale boggles my mind.

(Side note: When I get to talk about Florence, I'll talk about the market there. It's very different than the ones elsewhere in Italy.)

The Bologna market is more like a discount store than what we usually consider markets. In Sulmona, one can buy fresh flowers, fruit, vegetable, meat, cheese, and fish alongside the clothing and home goods. Certain booths always have crowds looking through the clothing piled in large bins. Usually, these vendors sell seconds and store cast-offs for a set price (sometimes as little as 1 euro). If you've ever seen the comedy shows where Lucy and Ethel or some other comedian goes through a bin and tosses clothing in the air while searching for a certain something, you'll know what I mean when I say the women (and sometimes men) tear through the piles of clothes in search of the perfect article.

In fairness, there are a lot of vendors who have good merchandise. It is, of course, more expensive.  I've seen everything from first-quality underwear to cocktail dresses at the Bologna market. I think I mentioned last summer that one has to really look at the item he/she is purchasing to decide whether it is worth what the vendor wants.  There is one place that sells scarfs for 1 euro each (See photo at the top of this entry.), and while some of the scarves look beautiful and the booth always has women clawing through the packages, the scarves are not well-made and will not last long. That, of course, doesn't stop me from wanting one of those multi-color scarves with the squares. (If you see one falling to pieces on my neck next fall, remember that I paid only one euro and deserve what I get)

Tomorrow, I Mercanti Petroniani (The Petronian Merchants) will hold their spring market in Bologna. From what I understand, the vendors in this market sell only items made in the region. I'll have to see, and I'm sure I'll let you know. :-)

1 comment:

  1. Glad you can relax a bit. See you Monday. Our suitcases are stuffed.