In the walks around Perugia I have realized how majestic every new street I stumble upon, every café that I walk in to, and all the architecture I see is almost mesmerizing. As a student only studying here for a semester, this is not a shock. My emotions and perceptions are heightened. I’m in an unfamiliar environment where the language, people, environment and culture have captured my attention in the most distracting way. I constantly find myself wondering how could everyone not love this city that I only have four months to explore.
As we walked through the neighborhood of Borgo Bello, I was again mesmerized by all the shops, the tiny side streets, elegant churches, and several restaurants that lined the streets. So close to the city Piazza near Umbra and my apartment were, I kept thinking to myself how did I not realize that this entire gem of a neighborhood was steps away from my everyday movements.
As we learned a little more about the neighborhood and the community efforts to make it a place that is as inviting and mesmerizing as other parts of Perugia, I realized that even though I am very much an outsider looking in to the community at large, my enchantments with Perugia may not be that different from Italians that have lived in Perugia all their life.
When I originally came to Perugia and explored the city center in the initial couple of weeks, I already found myself in such a short time feeling comfortable in my routine hang out spots and familiarized with the tiny streets I walked every day. Not that I didn’t have an interest to explore outside the center, I just generally didn’t know what was there or if it was something I could see myself loving as much as the city center where I first saw the beauty of this city.
Now after speaking with Italian community members from the Borgo Bello neighborhood, I can’t help but wondering if Perugians who live in the city center, like me may not utilize the space because the city center already has so much to offer. Maybe they are stuck in their familiar pathways like I felt so quickly after being here for only about a month. Or maybe they are just unaware of what the Borgo Bello neighborhood has to offer. I hope that in the weeks to come this class and neighborhood gatherings will give me a chance to speak with members of the Borgo Bello neighborhood and those that live outside of it to view their outlook on the area. The passion and commitment from those who live in the neighborhood is inspiring, and I look forward in the weeks to come to share the not so hidden gems of this neighborhood with Perugians and my peers.