Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon in Bolzano, Italy the streets and village squares came alive with people. It was the same all over Italy.
The people of Italy have this inherent need to be out and about whenever possible. They sit at a street-side café sipping
a cup of cappuccino and attentively watch the people parade past. Sometimes they sit at one of the benches along the square visiting with other bench sitters but always have one eye on the people parading past.
Young couples obviously on first dates talk about their likes and dislikes with animated hand and arm motions and laughter. Senior couples walk slowly holding hands content in the comfort of each other. Young couples push baby carriages or have toddlers in tow.
Most often there is a cone or cup of gelato (ice cream made with milk, cream, sugar and flavorings lower in fat but higher in sugar than typical ice cream). Always the strollers are aware of the watchers.
It seems Italians love to see each other and be seen by each other.
For the last several months I have been reading and hearing about the political strife and turmoil going on throughout Europe concerning immigration and assimilation of foreign people into European cultures. After a few days in Milan, at Lake Como, and a few days in Balzano, I have seen a few hundred thousand people in all types of settings. I have not seen any protests, signs, or graffiti telling people to go home. Most of the local people who know about the “unrest” are upset and confused by how it has grown legs in its telling across the Atlantic.
I feel it comes back to the time they spend in strolling through the city and village squares. Spending time with each other encourages understanding. With understanding comes tolerance. With tolerance comes compassion. With compassion comes acceptance. With acceptance comes community.
A community cannot exist among people who do not understand and appreciate each other. In order to know each other we have to see each other and that includes the family. In Italy’s case this involves strolling through the square.
What the United States needs, is more village squares and people having the time each day to enjoy them.
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