(Journal 1: First Impressions)
I left class on last Tuesday feeling very warm inside, as cheesy as it sounds. I am constantly reminded of how much I love the fact that I’m studying abroad in Perugia, and this was most definitely a reminder. It’s neighborhoods like Borgo Bello that keep Perugia humble and authentic. I don’t like to compare the moments I experience in Italy to my life in the United States, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was in San Francisco. The vibe of Borgo Bello felt homely. And this sense of familiarity is a precious quality not many places evoke. Familiarity draws on the feeling of a sense of belonging. Note to readers: if you have culture shock, definitely head down the stairs away from the city center to Borgo Bello. However, a sense of belonging makes me feel safe. Borgo Bello may have been stricken with bad activity in the past, however it is because of these impressions I received that will continue to draw people back in.
I can most definitely attribute the homely vibe to the mom and pop stores, friendly smiles I received on the streets, the community feel, and the people. An instance that probably seemed insignificant as people passed, was a man repainting his shutters. The shutters looked musty and worn out, but he was repainting them. He cared enough about the upkeep of his town to make his shutters look almost new again. In my eyes this portrays a sense of hope. He’s doing his part to upkeep his town, he’s not letting his town tarnish as it very well could have many years ago. However, with the care from the natives living in the area, Borgo Bello was regenerated. So it’s people like this man who was simply repainting his shutters that will continue to reliven Borgo Bello. I can attribute my surprise of this man’s care to my visit to the West Bank this past summer where I visited my Dad’s hometown. When we got to the town, my dad was in shock of how old, tarnished, uncared for it looked from when he last left it. In his eyes, the crumble suggested that his people had lost hope amidst the war, as if they stopped caring for their home immediately after a part of it was ruined. Thus, I truly admirer the painter, or should I say repainter I came across on the street.