By Katie Barnicle and Alyssa Mercaldi
New Britain, CT, United States
One of the top cities to visit in Europe is Florence, Italy. It is home to one of the most famous city squares, the Piazza del Michelangelo, dedicated to the brilliant Renaissance artist. Another popular location in Florence is the Piazza della Repubblica. It contains one of the world’s most famous carousels, which are also known as merry-go-rounds in the US.
In the Family
This carousel has been in the Picci family for over 100 years. Current owner Carlo Picci loves running his family’s business. While the merry-go-round’s shape and size do not stand out, its location and history sell tickets.
Picci points out another advantage: the small number of horses allows for children’s parents to stand next to them for reassurance.
The ceiling of the merry-go-round is painted with dozens of Italian cities, such as Pisa, Rome, Bologna, Parma, and Venice. It would be fun to close your eyes, point to the ceiling of the carousel, and then take a trip to that city.
A Quiet Ride
Another unique feature of this carousel is its lack of musical accompaniment. Picci says that he would not want loud music to distract from people enjoying the piazza. Clearly, Picci and his family really care as much for the tourists as they do for this business. They provide entertainment without distracting those who are enjoying other attractions in the Piazza della Repubblica.
As Picca owns this small business on his own, he has to consider many factors in the costs of operation and profit. He has to maintain the mechanics, aesthetics, and structure of the carousel in order to encourage tourists to purchase tickets.
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- Algebra: Distance and Midpoint Formulas (Grades 7-9)
- Algebra: Quadratics (Grades 8-10)
- Geometry (High School)
Sample Operations Problems:
- Flavia has 14 euros to ride the carousel. She has ridden it three times and spent nine euros. How many more times can she ride the carousel? Will she have any money left over?
- Eduardo is having his birthday party at the carousel. He had to pay 15 euros to reserve the carousel for the day. Then, it costs six euros per person who comes to the party.
- Make a table to show how much it will cost Eduardo to bring 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 10 people to the party.
- How much extra does it cost to add exactly one person to the party? How much extra does it cost to add exactly two people to the party?
- How much will it cost if no one comes to the party?
- If 14 people can ride the carousel at the same time, what is the maximum number of people Eduardo can invite to the party?
- Do you think the carousel operator’s prices are fair? Should they charge more or less? Why do you think this way?
- If 12 people can ride the carousel at a time and you are the 38th person in line, how many times will the carousel run before it’s your turn? What if the operator replaces only one-third of the people each time the carousel stops? Then how many times will it run before it’s your turn?
Social Justice Question
Since the carousel was first installed, safety standards have increased. Retrofitting a complicated apparatus to protect riders comes with extensive costs. Who should be responsible for paying for the safety upgrades? Should the regulators loan the money to the Picci family or should the family be expected to pay out of their own pockets?
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