Five days ago I was sitting in the Florence train station reading a book. I am a 71 year-old woman with grey hair. I was traveling with my husband and adult son. As I sat reading, I heard a voice say "Signore" twice. I ignored the person, a woman. She then kicked me hard on my calf leaving what would become a very large bruise. My son got up and told the woman who was accompanied by a man in a wheelchair that she could not attack his mother. The man in the wheelchair began to assault my son with his wheelchair, even when my son backed off. Approximately 20 or 25 people witnessed this assault. Two Italian policemen were nearby. I described as best I could what happened. They asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and then press charges. Since I was waiting for a train, I didn't feel I could do so. Other than talking with these two people, nothing was done to these attackers that I could see. One policeman did tell me that this couple are regulars at the Florence train station.
I believe I was a great target because I am old, obviously a tourist passing through, and probably do not speak Italian. I have made five trips to Italy throughout my life and consider myself to be a savvy independent traveler. I have never been assaulted like this before. On this trip we were almost continually bothered by very aggressive beggars who were persistent in their demands that we give them money. I live part time in France and go to Paris frequently. I haven't seen the level and aggressiveness of begging in Paris and I did in the Veneto and in Florence.
I am writing this to warn others who are in my category to be aware of what can happen to older independent travelers who are perceived to be vulnerable.