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.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Greve's Piazza Matteotti

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.


Terry (teaberry) said...

Oh, yuk! I've never been there, Jane, but a picture is worth a thousand words. How sad.

Anonymous said...

Your post reminds me of the Joni Mitchell song, Big Yellow Taxi..
"they paved paradise put up a parking lot"
I'm so sorry to hear that..

Jane said...

Terry, aren't pictures definitive?

anonymous: I love your comment but you forgot to tell me who you are. Obviously someone clever!

janie said...

Unbelievable. It must be hard for everyone to see this happen to such a beautiful space.

LMG said...

My name is Leah, I've been coming to your blog for a couple of years. I found it while planning my Italy (2006) vacation, but your and Casey's site are so precious I still visit them weekly.

Jane said...

Leah, that is a very nice compliment!Thanks. I guess you've figured that Casey is blogging from here, too.

Anonymous said...

Jane, this is disastrous! A sad thoughtless decision. Barb Cabot

Tourmama said...

Oh Jane - how very sad! What a shame that the openness and sense of community has been shattered with the influx of parking! I'll bet Casey and his friends will also be frustrated at their loss of freedom as the automobile takes over!

Given the pace at which things progress in building projects, it is probably just as well that the Palazzo a Greve apartment has not worked out for us - the parking lot may well still be there next June!


ps: per your comment on your last post - yes, it would be great to be in Greve TOGETHER. So you have to return again next June. Even if we aren't staying in town, we would make a point of meeting up with you.

Anonymous said...

I remember some haphazard parking but nothing warrants what is shown in your pics. I think Greve is the victim of its own success. It is just close enough to Florence. Sorry.

We were there not a year ago to get the fixings for a most spectacular picnic up at Montefiorale. I am envious of your vantage point, parking excluded.

As a side note I met Signore Landini at a tasting back here in the states gosh in 95 or 96 and have been hooked since. Ask him if he remembers Il Cingno resturaunt in Scarsdale NY.

You write wonderful words.

Danny P

Jane said...

Danny, I will ask him if he remembers. I'm sure he does as one of his major brokers in the states is from NY. Thanks for the compliment.

Judy, I didn't know that Palazzo a Greve is finished. I'll PM you.

We will be here the last two weeks of July and the first two of August next year.

SI-FA-SI said...

Hi Jane,
I'm Silvia and I live in Greve in Chianti and, since I mainly work outside the village and there are weeks that I don't go home, I heard about the parking lot from a couple of dear friends in Seattle who found your blog with this news!:-)
Isn't that weird??:-D

The Piazza is really awful, as I was writing to my friends, though is a temporary condition but, as you well say, in Italy things go very slow...
The only thing that is sure and clear is that the mayor is such a dumb person, that's it, as they could and they would have to wait till October, at the end of the touristic season, of course!

And also, if you consider that Euro is very strong these months, prices are definitely up for us italian people and for you from abroad (and here the tendence is to take advantage of the whole situation), you can have the nitid situation that tourism and economy in Greve will have a drastic stop.
One can't pay Euro 8,50 for a pasta dish just because you eat it in Piazza Matteotti!...Not all of the shops and trattorie do this, but the majority tend to keep prices high.They're blind and they can't or don't want to see that foreign people aren't that dumb as the mayor, for example:-)

Now, more than ever with this global economical crisis, people keep the eyes wide open to everything. The word "Chianti" can't be the passe-partout to be thieves with tourists and people in general, can be?....

I'll come here again, compliments for your blog and greet San Diego, Casey and all the good stuff for me:-D!
Ciao from Greve,


Jane said...

Silvia, what a coincidence!! I can not write much now because I have just a few minutes on the net but will write more later. Thanks