Borgo Bello made a great first impression on me. Walking down the narrow main street there were event flyers everywhere: theater productions and tango lessons alongside religious ceremonies. As we explored more, I think the flyers adorning the walls of the neighborhood represent the diversity of the space. Much like other parts of the city that I’ve explored, there were people of different ages walking about- it was the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday after all. I instantly felt comfortable there. I think because unlike the city center, Borgo Bello doesn’t have loud designer boutiques, colorful gelato shops and famous historical bakeries on every corner. Instead, it has nooks and crannies of arts, music and theater. Borgo bellow has narrower streets than the city center. A few cars passed us on our way to the site and we had to borrow into doorways to make space. The buildings are around the same height as the rest of the city, ranging from 2-4 stories usually. Unlike the city center of Perugia, there doesn’t appear to be a central location in Borgo Bello were everyone congregates, perhaps there is more of an interior culture in this part of the city, there seem to be fewer wide open piazzas. Hopefully we’ll help change that this semester.
As previously mentioned, we visited the site we’ll be working on this semester. It’s located on the north side of the the neighborhood looking up at the rest of Perugia on the hill. The location is underused in this season because it’s very exposed to the elements and it gets quite cold and windy there. There were some signs of visitation however: some trash had been left behind on the ground. We spent some time learning about the previous work that’s been done there, and we were introduced to two of the Borgo Bello neighborhood association’s finest members. They’re a few of the “Zealous Nuts” we read about in the readings for this week. Without a few people who just can’t live with the current state of things, we would never have the spark that ignites development and positive revitalization of a neighborhood. Without these community members there would likely be a very different future of the neighborhood. They showed us to the previous Umbra site across the neighborhood near the escalators that go down to a train stop. It showed signs of use and looks well loved and well kept. The major difference between this location and the site we’ll be working with this semester is the level of foot traffic that it sees any given day. The first goal of ours should be finding a way to get folks out to our site off the main road, and off the regular route through the neighborhood. After visiting our terrace we went to have coffee with some of the Borgo Bello neighborhood association members and I think I have a better understanding of how this place-making process grows. Within the physical revitalization and beautification efforts, real relationships are built around common goals and problem solving.