Sunday, August 17, 2014

Look Up

 "There is nothing more frightful
than finding ignorance in action."
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day in Bologna—sunny, warm, comfortable. I woke up early and decided that instead of trolling the internet for a bit, I would walk around the city before tourists started filling the piazzas. I also decided to do something different today. I looked up.
How often do we look up when we walk? I venture to guess that most of us look straight ahead or down. I know I do. Remember the luzzo fish sculpture from Friday? I've probably walked by that thing a dozen times, and until someone pointed it out, I didn't see it.  Had I not looked up, I would have missed the moon peeking at me over that balcony (above).

I walked through Santo Stefano as I always do (above).  A man was playing the accordion under the portico, and the music was lovely.  As I got closer to the accordionist, I noticed the scroll work on the top of the pillars (photo below).  It always amazed me that something so old and so intricate is intact. 

 I finished shooting the photo when an old man approached me, removed his hat, and shook it at me.

"Signora, please." I had not considered he was a beggar until that moment because his clothes were nice and the accordionist was not 10 feet away.  The beggars have their own territories, and the gentleman's understanding is that they don't intrude on each other's turf.

"No, grazia." I crossed the piazza and walked away from him.  He followed at a short distance and continued to shake his hat at me.

"Signora, please.  Please."  I hurried along and stopped near two policeman who supervising a tow-truck operator as he tried to hook his tow to a motorcycle.  I turned to see the man walking back to Santo Stefano.

I walked along for a bit and came upon Piazza San Martino, a small piazza a few blocks from the main street. I've walked across from it a few times and had always though that the statue in it was of San Martino.  Imagine my surprise today when I looked up and saw that the Blessed Mother actually reigns over the small square.

In my defense, I've always approached the statue from the backside and never really paid attention. Of course, had I turned around and looked, I might have noticed that blue thing (that appears to be a purse) in her hand.  On the other hand, man purses are pretty popular in Italy. . . .

At any rate, after two hours, I'd had enough walking and started to head home. I somehow ended up in the middle of Piazza Maggiore, so I cut through a side street filled with cafes and Pam Local, a small grocery ("Pam-a Loker! Food-a To Go! Nothin'-a easer!!'  You have to hear it to really appreciate how funny it is.). 

As I got close to Pam, I heard a woman.  "I'm better now knowing I can buy packaged stuff." Just at that moment, I was passing the door, and she and two men barged out of the market almost knocking into me.

"American English!" I said, ignoring the fact that they didn't apologize for practically knocking me over. "It's the first I've heard in more than two weeks.  Where are you from?" The three of them looked at me as though I were a pazza gypsy woman.

"Nevada," the woman replied.

"Las Vegas? I'm from Las Vegas!" I thought it was pretty cool that the first Americans I would meet in the city were from Las Vegas. Silly me.

"Well," the lady exhaled, "We actually live in Sun City Anthem."  Silly, silly me. Sun City Anthem is in Green Valley/Henderson.

"I live in Siena!" (Siena, I should note, is in Summerlin.  Summerlin is to the west side of LV as GV/Henderson are to the south side of LV.)

"I have no idea where that is," she snapped, adding, "You must be here a long time if you haven't heard American for two weeks." At this point, I finally noticed that the men, who had said nothing, had started to walk away.

I explained I would be in Bologna for six and offered my help.  "Can I help you find anything? A restaurant that is more local than tourist?" The men were walking faster away from us.

"No, we'll find things on our own." 

I nodded. "If you have the chance, you might want to see Santo Stefano. It's  beautiful and just a block away."

"Yah," she again snapped.  "We'll see it if we want to. Good-bye."

In the 10 or so hours since this happened, I've thought about it a lot and have tried to understand their attitude. I could, maybe, understand their being standoffish if I approached them on a dark, quiet street.

Perhaps they were tired. Perhaps I scared them.  Perhaps they thought a middle-aged American woman walking alone on a crowded street with nothing in her hand but a camera was going to overtake the three of them with her super-powers.

Perhaps they were just unfriendly. . . which I'm not. . . . Thank heaven.

I'm guess I'll just  continue to look up.

At any rate, when a lot of you are heading to bed tonight (tomorrow morning for me), I'll be on a train heading to Venice. 

1 comment:

  1. And THOSE are the type of people who travel in Italy or any other European country that make Americans look like buffoons with no class. Sad, really.