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Taxi drivers in Milan rally around destitute businessman

'Tramp' faces 3,000-euro fine for small street sales

28 December, 16:49
Taxi drivers in Milan rally around destitute businessman (ANSA) - Milan, December 28 - Taxi drivers in Milan have rallied around a former businessman who faces a 3,000 euro fine for selling cigarette lighters, small flashlights, and other items to make ends meet.

Renato Moda, who spoke over lunch at a Milan soup kitchen, says he was charged with running a business in a public area without a licence, and fined by authorities at the city's Linate airport.

And he has no money to pay the fine.

Taxi drivers from that airport are defending the former textile salesman who lost his stores, his house, and then buried his wife.

"I had nothing more," until he found a cell-phone charger laying on the ground, sold it to a taxi driver for three euros and began a new life as a very small-scale businessman, Moda recalled.

"At that moment, my life changed".

At 53, Moda is a blue-eyed, handsome man who lives on the street, hanging in coffee bars to avoid the cold. "Then, on Saturday and Sunday, if I have enough money, I'm going to a hotel that costs 40 euros a night". The taxi driver's union says it admires Moda and mocks the police who charged him for trying to earn some wages.

"Renato is trying to rebuild his life without stealing, he is a good person for a pleasant chat and is never intrusive," says Marco Marani, vice president of Unica FILT-CGIL.

Quipped union president Giovanni Maggiolo: "I congratulate the local police who completed this 'bright' operation".