Our class snoop about was the fifth time I had explored Corso Garibaldi. It is across the street from my apartment, and I often see it at varying times of day. Three weeks ago, I trekked up the main street to the Tempio di Sant’Angelo, the church that gives its name to the surrounding neighborhood. I was with five of my adventurous peers who decided ignore a forecasted thunderstorm to visit the temple. At the time, the street was gloomy, and hardly anyone was out on the street then. With this in mind, my classmates JP, Nicole, and I went through a small side street at the bottom of the hill, Via dei Pellari. I had passed by this alley the weekend before our snoop about, and I honestly did not think it was a very welcoming place to be. By daylight, however, the alleyway leading toward the park adjacent to Corso Garibaldi seemed like a harmless adventure.
The scenic route we took toward the temple was a completely new experience for me, as I had yet to find such a large green space in Perugia. The view from the park trail gave a refreshing view of the surrounding countryside, and as we walked we came across a small picnic in the tall grass. At our feet were weeds and wildflowers, and above us towered tall trees that provided us with a shady path through the park. We saw parking lots that allow for easy access to the park, and I was reminded of a conversation I had with Manuel where he joked that Italians prefer to drive everywhere out of convenience.
Coming back down the hill, the class stopped by a small garden that I had not noticed before. Considering that we did not see anyone immediately nearby, I was surprised that it was well kept and not dusty as I would imagine a place like that to be. Although it was empty at the time, I could easily imagine a nearby neighbor waking up early to unlock the small garden and sweep it so others in the community can enjoy the cool shade of the gazebo. It is residents like this neighbor that I can see so vividly in my mind that would benefit the most from our placemaking interventions in the neighborhood. I imagine that the most engaged residents (or the “zealous nuts,” as the reading calls them) would not only love to see youthful changes in their neighborhood, but would also fondly enjoy seeing their fellow neighbors utilizing these public spaces in a safe and non-disruptive manner. Most of the foot-traffic I assume comprises students and academics who are younger and of more diverse backgrounds than longer-term residents of the area, but I hope that public spaces like these can make the neighborhood feel more unified.