Terrace Watch: Eyes on the Sides

I find myself studying the terrace very carefully for any sign of change. While last time there only seemed to be positive differences, today we noted some good, some bad.  Taking a Placemaking class has allowed me to thoroughly enjoy people-watching, and the latest Terrace Watch was no exception– although I wish there were more people, and less vandalism.

When Veronica and I arrived at the terrace, it was empty. We spent a moment observing the state of the place, noting a lot of garbage in the trashcans. Unfortunately, we also noticed that the blackboard had been broken and carved with the words, “MENSA DEI TOSSICI (BELLO),” and “[MEGLIO LE SIRINGHE, HAI RAGIONE SCUSA].” They seemed to have been carved recently, as flakes from the blackboard itself still stuck to the letters. These finds, if anything, were the most disturbing of the day.

However, despite the vandalism, we were joined by many people during our observation, which made the experience much better. We sat down in the middle, perched on the ledge. Soon enough, a man appeared, and he spent his time cleaning the right side for about fifteen minutes. He weeded and rearranged furniture so that they sat properly. Another young man strolled across the terrace, past us. He sat by himself on the ledge on the far left, away from the view, but he seemed relaxed. I first worried that he might be a drug dealer, but later a woman joined him and they sat, talking.

A group of four foreigners and one Italian showed up shortly after, sitting on the bleachers and observing the view. They conversed in their native tongue (it was either Arabic or another Eastern language) and were generally having a good time. Following the experiences we heard about from other students, I worried that these too might also be drug dealers, but they seemed to be friendly people just enjoying themselves. They spent their time on the terrace chatting and resting for the majority of our hour. During the rest of the time, there weren’t very many other people.

Compared to previously, there were far more people on the terrace with us, and it was significantly livelier. While last time we mostly sat in silence–with the exception of Veronica and my conversation– there was a babble of conversation emanating from both sides of the terrace. It was comforting, if despite the vandalism, the area was being used innocently.

We speculated that perhaps the increase in presence on the terrace was due to the EuroChocolate festival, as people– both foreign and Italian– may be exploring the area more, out of curiosity. It would be very beneficial if the chocolate festival drew attention to our terrace, but it won’t last forever, so we need a more permanent solution to the promotion issue. I considered the perks of advertising for the terrace in the different bars along Corso Cavour, but as Veronica stated in class, I believe we’d need to have an event in the area before we start promoting.

People want to know that the area is fun, a good place to spend the time. I like to think that more attractions would do good, but we’ll have to see how it goes. Meanwhile, with both eyes on both sides of the terrace, we were happy to see some people enjoying themselves! There will come a day when the terrace is awash with many people, and hopefully that day is soon.

(Pictured above: the terrace as it was when we arrived, the broken and carved chalkboard, the man who was cleaning, and the groups of people who were present for most of the hour. 18/10/17)

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