This week I sat in Piazza IV Novembre and observed the crowds of people circulating through the city’s center. Keeping Jane Jacobs’ writings in mind, I noted how people tended to avoid the most open areas of the piazza. The places with the most space were avoided like the plague. People flocked together on the steps on either side and hardly any single person was left alone. Everyone seemed to be with at least one other person and most people were in larger groups. Since the weather was beautiful, there were hoards of people, though walking at the same time on a cloudier day I’ve seen far fewer people and nobody lingering and talking on the steps or in the walkways.
In tune with our discussion last week, people tended to gather in the middle of the way. Since that is the busiest place, people often are concentrated enough to bump into one another and socialize. In more open spaces this phenomenon is very rare if not obsolete. The most concentrated areas of standing people conversing was along the walkways close to intersections and corners where the open shops lie. Few teenagers and young kids were out, while the majority of the young adults in the center were sitting on the stairs conversing and meeting with friends. The older generations, mostly 60s and up were walking in large groups through the walkways. Most of the middle aged people in the center were conversing in areas in the middle of the way, like just outside of shop doors and on street corners.
In order to make a place, people need to be in close enough quarters to bump into one another. A downfall of some areas is simply the lack of people and the lack of confinement. Like the cat hotel we saw on our walk this past weekend, a resting place in the middle of an area frequented by common people can provide a place for socialization and conversation.