An Exercise in People Watching by Talia Schaer

Something we engage in every day whether we recognize it or not, is people watching. We naturally observe who is around us, if we recognize them, do we like their clothes, and what they are doing. For an hour this week we were set out to people watch in the piazza and take field notes.

Even though I have only been here for a little over a month, these steps and people seem familiar now. There are some people I see every day, and noticed them immediately. And others in the class also recognized them as someone we almost knew personally. There is the man with two dogs I see all the time, and have in turn constructed my own idea of who he is.

Then there are the people I have never seen before sitting on the steps. Each of them drawn to that place by their own reasons. Some are alone, some are in pairs, and some are in groups. Each of them a separate in a collective of people who I watch without them realizing. Trying to understand why they are there in the piazza, the relationship to the person they are with, and just overall being a fly on the wall.

Something you notice immediately in the piazza is that you can tell who is a local and who is not. There are the groups of tourists bunched over by the fountain being talked to by a guide explaining the significance of the piazza and taking pictures left and right. Then there are the Italians from Perugia who are sitting and chatting with friends on the steps or maybe getting a coffee at one of the cafes. There are the other students from abroad that go to the school for foreigners. Each of these people exist in this small ecosystem and embrace the common area of the piazza.

(Pictured: A group of tourists next to the fountain being talked to by a guide and two women having a photo shoot in the piazza.)

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