Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Piazza

by Jennifer Colton-Jones
Nothing defines life in an Italian city like its piazzas.

One of our required texts, The Italian Way, calls the piazza the “pulse” of the community, and I, familiar with the idea of a town square, thought I understood what that meant. I didn’t.

The piazza is where life happens in Cagli.

In the first light of the morning, the newsstand opens, and the Cagliesi cross the piazza to buy their morning papers. They sit at one of the two cafés on the piazza and drink their cappuccinos and watch the town wake up.

The men of the town gather along “the wall” to watch life in the piazza.

On market days, the piazza fills with vendors, and cars surround the fountain every other day of the week.

When it rains, the sound echoes off the ancient stones while the wind whistles through the shutters.

At night, the buildings and streetlights glow in different shades, keeping the piazza alive even when it’s empty.

Wedding parties march through the piazza from the steps of city hall to their church of choice.

In summer evenings, the piazza closes to vehicular traffic, and people sit at the cafés in peace while children ride their bicycles and tricycles over the cobblestones.

If you want to meet with someone, the answer to “where” is almost always, “In the piazza.”

I will miss the piazza.

I will miss Cagli.