Musings on the Piazza

There is nothing comparable to walking through the piazza markets on a Sunday morning, with the elderly milling about in their clean and pressed church clothes, vendors shouting out to passing friends and simultaneously exchanging insults and greetings, youth gathering around the corners on bicycles and iPhones.  The aroma of fresh bread, of salami and cheeses and Sicilian pastry; the complete and perfect olfactory imagery of a weekend market morning, infused with the scent of fresh espresso emanating from the surrounding bars.

There is nothing like the calm bustle of the afternoon, as people mingle in cafés and bars, sipping their coffees or sitting down to a relaxed aperitivo.  Now, it is the aroma of pizza slices and toasted panini, coupled with the tinkling of chatter and laughter and loud outbursts of startling semi-argumentative exclamations (these are common, among Italians).  Warmth radiates from the sun as summer fast-approaches, and this warmth beats off the ancient walls of the establishments surrounding the piazza, this town centre which continuously survives, entering century after changing century, the unconquerable and undying beating heart of the city.

There is no equal to traversing the piazza in the early hours of the morning, still tipsy and filled with food, listening to the persistent sounds of youth, forever living out on the streets – not hoolingans, not loiterers, but respectable youth taking advantage of their pre-adult freedom.  There is always some event, some form of music, something happening – all for the entertainment of those who escape sleep, those persistently nocturnal European youth.  And the streetlamps shed their yellow glow onto the cobblestones, casting shadows across the discarded cigarette butts and illuminating only that which is beautiful.  And that walk across the piazza is a form of emancipation, of renewal.  As in the morning, as in the afternoon, at night it remains the sweeping whirlpool which draws individuals out of the crevices of their homes, out into the vivacious life of the city.

How captivating the piazza has been, is still, will remain to be …




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