La Passeggiata: An Italian Tradition
Let’s all do as the Italians do as day softens into dusk in Italy, something in the air seems to tug people from their homes and work places to take part in one of the enduring traditions of Italian life: La passeggiata.
This evening promenade, generally between 5 and 8 PM, happens in virtually every town, village or big city in Italy.
Andiamo a fare qualche vasca! (Which literally means, Let’s go do some laps), Italians say to one another. This ritual involves much more than strolling to and fro.
During the week, the passeggiata marks the end of the workday and is a time to socialize before the family dinner. On Saturday and Sunday, the passeggiata often becomes the main social event of the day, when entire families take to the streets.
The most important thing, it seems, is simply seeing and being seen.
Attracting the most attention are young women of marriageable age. This is a socially sanctioned opportunity for flirting and courting.
The passeggiata reinforces a sense of belonging. The greeting of friends and acquaintances, the sharing of gossip, and the latest news weave everyone into the human fabric of the community.
In some cities, people dress to impress or at least to show how well life has been treating them. Shirts are pressed; jeans if worn, are stylish. Older folks sit along the route, on a bench or nursing a beer or glass of wine, and watching for things to gossip about; La passeggiata is where new romances and new babies are on display as well as new shoes. Folks of all ages take part, from the youngest babies to the oldest members of the community who take it all in from the sidelines.
If you’re out and about in the early evening, you may become part of a passeggiata whether you intend to or not. Walk slowly. Stop for a gelato or an aperitivo. And don’t be surprised if, after a while, you start feeling that you too belong.
This is yet another beautiful Italian tradition that makes me want to BE ITALIAN! Our world might be a better place if we all took the time to be with one another in peace, strolling along enjoying each other and life.
Just be sure and be on the look out for any one of these three to be strolling along a street in Montepagano, Marsala or Naro! If you see one, offer to buy them a cool gelato and sit a moment with you. Guaranteed best La passeggiata of your life!
Photo credits: Images for Passeggiata and All Things Il Volo
Story sources: becomingitalian.com
Martha Bakerjian-Italy Travel Expert