The streets around us and the small local piazza are full of people. Women walk to and from the daily shopping, dragging their purchases behind them in little two-wheeled trollies. Listless teenagers are not sure what to do with themselves now that school is out, and hang around the piazza, flirting outrageously if any members of the other sex are about, or otherwise looking bored. Locals chat in the piazza, multiple generations stopping to talk, kiss on each cheek, and pass the time of day before moving on. 7 pm is a good time to catch them all there at once, or perhaps outside the gelateria just across the street. Later at night, the 20-something young men, with their cigarettes and beer, but not yet their cars, girlfriends, or own places to live, take over. Men at the bars engage in loud and vigorous conversation over a quick espresso in the morning, or later over a cigarette and maybe a beer or corretto (a “corrective” coffee – ie, one with some alcohol added).
Tiny cars whizz around the piazza, park two deep on corners, and stop in the middle of the road for a chat if they see someone they know. The one-way streets seem only to be one-way on the map. Certainly not in practice!
A couple of vegetable stalls – an Italian version perhaps of a mini-mart – are set up in our street, just beside the piazza, and locals stop for a chat with the vendors. A tourist (ie me) buys the occasional tomato, eggplant or incredibly sweet capsicum (pepper). I drool at the ripe peaches.
Over the road from the supermercato, where the local African guy tries to sell his fake handbags and cheap sunglasses, joggers, dogwalkers, mammas and babies, old folks, romantic couples, and the occasional tourist with a camera enjoy the local park and a rare wide open space in Rome. Its long dry grass and lack of facilities is made up for by the views across the city to the dome of St Peter’s Basilica.
The children play outside in the morning at the day-care/school across the road from our apartment, but are nowhere to be seen as the afternoon heat rises. A man wearing a t-shirt and his undies hangs out his washing on the balcony, and a toddler teeters out on her balcony, several flights up. And the old folks, later, lean out their windows or at their balconies, taking in the air and hoping for a breeze.