A life of narrow streets and open squares


Give me an old city centre and I will try my best to get lost in it's streets. That's no joke, I mean it. That's how I find out about a place. I mean really get a feel for it and discover it. I'm a bit of a trial and error kinda guy like that. Especially when you drift in and down the narrow streets; some cities like Bologna and Seville are very special to me like this.

Walking down a narrow street I can feel the city home in on me. I can walk along it with my hands in my pockets but still reach out and feel it as it holds me in it's grasp. How the city breathes life, how the architecture paints it's character and gives it not only a face but also a soul. Following the stonework, the cracks, the shape of each corner and complexion of each fa├žade I can tell how it has lived, what it has endured and the way it will keep on keeping on.

Inbetween, the windows give a distraction to the slate of road, but enrich it even moreso. How they can have plants and curtains hanging from or in them. Shutters surround them and behold them. In them there might be things perched on the windowsill, there might be nothing; they are always full of life and a peeping hole to the life within the walls, yet they can reflect and shine and bounce to all reaches in the street.

Keep walking down, feeling the smoothed slabs of stone beneath your feet, as it has endured many others many times before you have trod there. Look to where the next winde or turn might be. Which sharp feature will jump out at you. Look up and see where the sun beams on and where it doesn't, how the shadows dance off and work with the lines of the architecture.

Then the end of the street comes in to view. My pace quickens as I anticipate and excite at what might be at the end of it. How it opens out on to a big square. It feels like a cool beer at the end of hard day's work, reaching out to your throat and just feels so damn nice as it flows down in to your stomach. This is what the square does to you, it gives you life again after the work of living through it's streets.

How many times do you see a fountain in these squares? It's an equation of life: fountain = water = life. Fontana = aqua = vita. The square is your field of play, it's where life gathers and plays together.

I can stand and just look around me. Up and down. Just as I did in the narrow street. My mind opens and I suck it all in and energise. I don't know how many times I have walked through Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, even for no reason, even if it is out of my way to where I'm walking. I need to be in touch with it.

Then you home in on a street that spurns off the square. It looks narrow and you can't see what is down there. It throws a lassoo around you and pulls you in because you want to see and discover; that's just how we humans are. Off we go again, the journey continues. Big cities have lots of streets. There are so many journeys to go on in life. So now it's time for a Sunday evening beer to energise myself of course.

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