People travel to Italy to see the sights, and one of the things people are told to visit are some of the great piazzas of the world. These are apparently some of the great outdoor public spaces, and everybody wants to experience the atmosphere of te Piazza Navona , the Spanish Steps, St Peter’s square, St Mark’s Square, and all the others.
Tourists are told that Italians go to these spaces to see and be seen, to drink cappuccino, debate art and culture, and generally experience what is considered one of the most unique aspects of Italian culture.
I hate visiting these piazzas.
They are beautiful, yes, but there is no Italian culture here, only tourists. The trattorias and cafés lining the square, supposedly supporting this café culture are full of tourists. The shops cater to tourists, the prices reflect tourism, and the quality is definitely lacking.
If the piazza is well known or there is some major attraction thre, then here are large tour groups swarming the place, following raised umbrellas or flags.
There is no Italian culture here.
In fact, I would be surprised if there was a local Italian in these squares that was not a waiter or tour guide.
Or trying to sell something of course. Maybe dressed as a gladiator?
Does that mean that piazzas are not the centre of Italian public life? No, I guess I wouldn’t go that far, but tourists are certainly not finding it at these large popular plazas. We aren’t seeing Italians there, we are only seeing ourselves pretending to be Italian.