I am convinced that the concept of a piazza is totally lost on North America.
Our society would never allow for such a large plot of land in the middle of a city to be set aside solely for the enjoyment of the people.
Rather, they would build shopping malls, fast food joints or worst of all, casinos.
There is a world of difference between a Starbucks, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons, and an old world sidewalk cafe.
A friend at work once asked me…
“Is there really such a thing as a sidewalk cafe where you can sit all day in the sun drinking expresso complete with accordion players and all?”
I could almost see the tears welling up in his eyes that the thought of this most pleasant of visions could actually be in fact a reality.
I almost wanted to say…
“Yes Virginia, there is such a place where people gather day and night to enjoy the company of family and friends in an outdoor social setting. There, you can indulge in coffee, tiramisu, authentic pizza Margherita, among other world class delicacies.
These meeting places complete with beautiful fountains can only be reached on foot as motorized vehicles are not allowed as they detract from the simplicity of the setting.”
Dear and gentle readers:
These places are known as piazzas.
If you want to gain some sense of what a piazza is like, imagine a a rectangular square the size of four football fields. This is the gathering ground for people who seek to escape all the noise, the traffic, and the rat race of their working day.
People bring their dogs here. People play their musical instruments and even sing here. There are original fountains and statues dating back to the renaissance along with the obligatory pigeons. People can make their living here by simply selling fruits, vegetables and flowers here.
Hanging out at the shopping malls is unheard of when there are outdoor piazzas to enjoy.
And why would we be hard pressed to find these same piazzas in North America?
They would no doubt be considered as…
“Not economically feasible.”
In closing, I think I’ll end with a silly bit of verse that stems from from a song sung by Andie MacDowell’s character the movie ‘Michael’ starring John Travolta:
“Oh me, oh my…
I love Piazza Pizza pie!”