Friday, April 25, 2014

Promenade + passeggiatta

Venetian Promenade, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo 1750 

I've always loved this old print of men promenading in their fine clothes. Were these men walking along the ocean's edge, near the Academia, or were they strolling in Piazza San Marco past the Campanile? Was this an evening passeggiatta—or little walk?

What's a La passeggiatta, you wonder?! As evening falls and the sunshine slowly slips away from your favorite piazza, a lovely evening ritual begins—the Italian tradition of passeggiatta or little walk.

This slow and gentle pre-dinner stroll, usually between 5 pm and 8 pm, is especially popular on Sunday evenings. Folks saunter, perhaps arm in arm, and usually in quiet car-free, pedestrian only zones in the historical centers of towns, and most importantly, they look and are looked at!

And of course the Italians dress to impress in their finest cocktail party clothes for their passeggiatta, and inevitably look very hip and snappy compared to weary travelers in sneakers. This is especially so in the big cities. The locals wear their Ferragamo loafers, Versace trousers, Dolce & Gabbana dresses and carry their Prada handbags. Men might drape their colorful Armani sweaters around their shoulders. It's all easy, breezy and relaxed.

They gossip and babble away in lively conversation, meet and greet, check the shop windows, perhaps stop for a quick drink at a cafe or bar, bump into friends and perhaps make impromptu plans to have dinner together. This is is a molto bene way to work up a hearty appetite.

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