(Umbra Institute, Fall 2013)
It’s nearly Fall and the wind is howling today. At times it blows so hard it makes your hair whirl before your eyes and cover everything there’s to see. And then suddendly it turns in a gentle breeze and makes you feel thankful for keeping you fresh, because the sun is so bright in the sky that you could think it’s still Summer.
In days like this Perugia shines. The sunlight gleams on its stone faced buildings and reverberates everywhere. It tries to convince you not to wear that heavy scarf you carry in your bag, but no way: the wind today is more persuasive. Better defend yourself from the cold.
As I walk through corso Vannucci, this lively wind brings to my nose strings of scent that expand down my throat and tickle my stomach. I stop for a while in the middle of my walk and concentrate: there’s the warm and savory smell of pizza. I close my eyes and start to imagine a big, arch-shaped mouth, blackened by the flames that roar within. A man, dressed in white and covered in flour, peers into the oven every now and then, closely watching the dough that is baking inside.
I can imagine the oil piercing into the dough, blending together their molecules. The tomato sauce, on top of it all, makes everything softer and the warmth of the flames seals all together in a unique thing. My tongue starts to cover with saliva, then the breeze drops the baking pizza and offers me another delicacy to be smelled. There’s sugar in it, and it’s warm too. Maybe cornetti? Perhaps filled custard-filled ones? I open my eyes and see a waiter carrying a tray, surely coming out of Sandri’s. He’s bringing beautiful pastries to a couple sitting at a table. Their faces smile as they thank the man, then they exchange a glance full of gluttony and give a bite. With a bit of envy, I smile to myself and finally decide it’s time to move on.
This walk through the corso is making my mind float between reality and fantasy. What if I had the time to sit on the steps of San Lorenzo’s Cathedral? It could be beautiful to stop for a few minutes and try sketching the view from there… I’d emphasize the vertical lines as to transmit the austerity and majesty of the buildings, which seem to have resisted the storms of time just to keep standing in their noble role of street keepers. Then I would draw softer lines to depict the arches that shape windows and stairs, especially those stairs in front of me, which come down like a wax casting from Sala dei Notari. And what about the fountain? It really looks like belonging to another time. It makes me think of when my grandparents were young, and I picture them very next to it: hand in hand, sometimes sharing sweet looks. I’ve seen so many newlyweds there! Taking pictures near the fountain has become a tradition during the last years, and I like to imagine that those photos will be beautifully framed, and given a special place in the newlyweds’ house.
Once home I could use my watercolors to refine the work. Perugia may seem a gray town, because of its several stones and marbles… But she tells me, deep down, she’s brown like chestnuts when Fall gets older, and apricot-orange when the sun is hot; she can be milk-white in the early fresh mornings, and even vivid green, if you know where to look. The atmosphere here can capture you, if you’re careless enough to let it do. Today I’m giving it free pass.
I go on, one foot before the other, but my senses continue to scan the surroundings, hungry for some more details to catch. Immediatly something meets my ears, a sound different from the everyday chats that fade away, unnoticed.
Music. But it’s not the young generation’s egocentrical noise; this is someway old and simple, not perfect, not sofisticated, but genuine. It gives me the sense of how life should have been, years ago, in this town. The music comes undoubtly from an accordion, and my mind runs to the image of an old countryman, with his sunburnt skin and deep wrinkles surrounding his smile. Thoughts of squared and stained shirts, dungarees and old torn shoes appear before my eyes; but as I turn the corner my fantasies are disappointed. The musician’s a young, tall boy, wearing a heavy sweater. Yes, it is stained, but it’s not what I expected! Furthermore, his hair is outrageously long and with dreadlocks! Definetly not what I thought! I give a little laughter and pass by, considering my naive romanticism.
Another sound interposes between me and my fantastic path: the bells have started to ring the hour, their voices tell me it’s time to say goodbye to the fantasies I made friends with. As I let a coin fall into the musician’s hat, I resume walking my way.
This evening it will be nice to sit at my desk and greet those images again, through the pencil and the pages of my old sketchbook.
Viola Mariotti, 23, was born in Perugia and is currently studying Foreign Languages (English and Portuguese) at Università di Perugia. Her hobbies are reading English books, drawing, watching movies and hanging out with friends. She loves shopping and, of course, eating Italian food! Being a typical Italian, she also likes taking her own time!