Una Bella Passerella

The lost art of the stroll.

Back when I was a Mormon, I served a mission in Italy.  I have many fond memories from that experience, one of which was brought to mind as I walked Christo's The Floating Piers. On weekends and evenings, the Italians could regularly be found strolling through parks and piazzas, frequently arm-in-arm with friends and family.  I particularly liked winter Sunday afternoons when Italian couples crowded broad park paths, men in their snappiest suits, women in their lavish fur coats, all casually wandering and chatting about nothing and everything.

I remember when I first moved into my current home near Liberty Park, Sunday afternoons felt familiar.  Lots of Eastern Europeans had moved into the neighborhood. They loved to get dressed up and lazily parade down the central promenade of Liberty Park, chatting in foreign languages I had no hope of understanding.

Maybe all those Eastern Europeans have moved out of my neighborhood.  Maybe the world is too preoccupied with cell phones and social media. Or maybe we're all too tired and busy to practice the art of the leisurely stroll anymore.  So it was a real delight to see the Italians embracing that tradition during The Floating Piers.  And embrace it, they did.

Almost three times as many people as expected visited The Floating Piers and the vast majority of those people were Italians.  In fact, I was surprised at the rarity of Americans (I ran into only a handful). There were a few more Brits, but only a few. Germans were slightly more common, but I'd guess that 95% of visitors were Italians.

And Italians know how to take an afternoon (or morning, or evening, or nighttime) stroll. Talking is at least as important as walking. Talking with your hands is probably more important that walking. Stopping to ooh and aah babies in strollers is a national past time. And there's always time to just stop, plop down, and enjoy the company of a chance encounter

Creative director and art nerd contemplating travel, books, theater, and art.