Monday, June 20, 2011
The Piazzas of Cervinara
Cervinara, like just about every other Italian town, large or small, has its share of piazzas. In Italian culture, the piazza represents communal life at its most vibrant. It is the place where children gather to kick a soccer ball around, where teens strut their stuff for members of the opposite sex, where parents watch their children run around freely, and where senior citizens sit on benches and talk over the good old days. In short, the piazza is at the center of every neighborhood and it plays a vital role in everyday life.
In Cervinara, there are several piazzas. The one nearest our home up in Ioffredo, is in front of the Chiesa di San Nicola. After the floods of 1999, the church, surrounding homes and the piazza were either damaged or destroyed. Now, in 2011, the town has begun reconstruction of the piazza, making it into the pleasant place to hang out that it used to be. Repaving, using small paver stones, has been completed. We are awaiting the finishing treatments....lamp posts, benches, fences that will protect little ones from falling into the river, etc. We can't wait to see the whole project finished, but we're not sure when that will be!
A short walk from our neighborhood takes us to the Ferrari section of town. The centerpiece of this neighborhood is Piazza Elena, named for one of the queens of Italy. It is, in my opinion, the prettiest of all of Cervinara's piazzas. There are lots of benches for sitting while enjoying an ice cream from one of the two bars that are located here. There is a lovely old fountain from which young and old alike take refreshment. There is the Palazzo Marchesale, the old palace of the Marchesa, which fronts up to the piazza. And, most importantly, are the trees....centuries old yet still offering shade to the tired pedestrian.
Further down into town is Piazza Trescine. This is the political center of town. Here we find the Municipio or town hall, banks, newspaper stands, bars and restaurants, etc. There is a new fountain that was put in a few months ago, not nearly as charming as the Ferrari fountain, but still a nice addition. The town has worked hard to make this piazza a welcoming one, adding benches and planting trees too.
Finally, another brief walk from Trescine is the Villa Communale. This is the largest piazza in Cervinara and offers something for everyone. It is a gated piazza, so children are free to run around through the playground and parents don't have to worry about them darting into the traffic. There are trees, statues, shaded paths for strolling, and most importantly, a great gelateria. Micione makes some of the best gelato anywhere. Their menu is limited to usually eight flavors, but that is because they make it fresh daily. Any sunny Sunday afternoon will find the Villa Communale bustling with families working off their dinner, children scampering through the monkey bars, lovers strolling hand in hand, and people like us enjoying a gelato.
Without its piazzas, Cervinara would not be the same. Without its piazzas, Italy would not be the same. These areas allow for a gregarious and lively people to meet, play and talk together as few places in the United States do. Tutti in piazza!