Like most other students, as I walked down the Sant’Ercolano steps on Tuesday into the beautiful neighborhood of Borgo Bello, I instantly noticed a change in the atmosphere. I had come into this area many times when I was walking about, discovering different parts of Perugia, but this was the first time I had noticed how different this quaint street was from Corso Vanucci and the nearby city center.
The most distinctive difference was the purpose of the street. It didn’t exist to serve tourists. Every store and street served a different, specific purpose. We walked through animal themed stories, tea shops, chocolate shops, and even wandered into a small Alimentari. Each shop was a specialty store and sold only one or two different products. I could instantly tell that the store owners weren’t accustomed to American customers as many didn’t speak English and some even seemed a little put off that we were shopping around.
As we continued to wander, we ventured down a few of the side streets. These side streets were deserted. It wasn’t until we happened upon Vivian’s mother working at the thrift store that we saw and spoke with anyone. The streets were very narrow and dark as the tall buildings blocked any sun from shining on them. In Jane Jacob’s article, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” the author discussed the three components that any street or area should have. What I found interesting was that Borgo Bello seemed to be lacking 2 of the components in some of the side-streets/alleyways: eyes upon the street and people using sidewalks continuously.
The previous placemaking classes have done a very good job at working to fix both of these problems. They have installed potted plants and very unique paintings to increase both eyes and people on the streets. I hope that our class is able to follow in their footsteps and continue to bring more and more people to the lonely streets of Borgo Bello and continue to help make it the beautiful and safe neighborhood it is meant to be.