Everyone here is up in arms over the desecration of “our” piazza—the center piece of Greve for residents and tourists alike. If you have been here, you picture the unusual shape of the piazza with Chiesa Santa Croce anchoring the narrow end and arcades filled with shops lining both sides as it spreads out to the gastronomia, forno, café, bank and other shops at the base of the triangle.
It is, or one should say has been, a piazza where people stroll, cross easily from side to side and admire the view of the church while sitting with an espresso at the café. The piazza fostered friendliness, camaraderie and a sense of time moving slowly. It has been a mecca for Casey who loved to wander, see friends and sense a space that was “his.” We loved having dinner at Il Portico and watching the activities passing by. Casey treasured the freedom of getting up from the table and roaming for some of his buddies as we adults sat and savored the night.
Monday Greve woke to a travesty that has shopkeepers, residents and people such as we who love this town expressing anger and dismay as only Italians can—well, we primarily commiserate and moan with them, equally astounded.
The Comune has made a parcheggio (parking lot) out of the piazza. The entire center of the piazza has been painted with white parking spaces. The beauty of Greve and what charms people, the visual people take home with them—the centerpiece of this medieval town—is now, to quote our friend Bruno, “molto brutto”-very ugly. This is the phrase on everyone’s lips.
There is a reason for this disaster but that doesn’t pacify anyone. If you have been here, you know that Greve has a parking problem. There has been limited pay parking along the perimeter of Piazza Matteotti. There is a free lot behind the COOP and a small pay underground garage. Across the Greve River in front of Piazza del Popolo, across from the cinema there is a free parking lot. Then there are a few other places that people who live here know about but tourists usually don’t find. During the months of May through October, it can be a challenge to find a place to park—which, of course, is very frustrating for residents who need to go about their business.
In response to this need, the Comune (sort of like a county) has planned a large, multi level underground parking structure. This will be where the current parking lot is in front of Piazza del Popolo; thus that lot will be closed as of July 7—or so that is what is rumored. Therefore, new parking options needed to be found, ergo the disaster in the Piazza, which, by the way, doesn’t provide anywhere near the number of spots now lost.
Of course, the Piazza is where Saturday Market is so we are all waiting to see what happens come Saturday. It will be very interesting. The piazza is home to lovely flower markets as well as antique fairs, wine festivals, and a myriad of other activities that are at the heart of Greve and its traditions. What will happen to these events?
One might ask—and people are—why now in the middle of the tourist season? Does this seem odd? Well-yes! I have heard it was supposed to have been started in March but the torrential rains this spring and early summer, interfered with that plan. This does make sense. But, then, people ask—why not wait until October? So far, there has not been a good answer to that.
The biggest question is: “How long will the Piazza be so disfigured?” Well, things frequently do not move quickly here in bella Italia—often part of its charm to those of us from A type countries. An apartment/shop complex that was begun when we were here in March of 2006 is still not complete. This does not bode well.
So, know that when you come to this village we like to call home-Greve in Chianti, you won’t see it as it is supposed to be. And those who have been here, be saddened that what you see in your mind’s eye, is not what is any longer—for a while. We are sad, too.
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.