In this first enchanting week in my new apartment, I take pleasure in becoming familiar with the routines of Italian life. Upon opening my eyes every morning, I delight in the view of the hills at the base of Piazzale Michelangelo.
The bells of the neighbourhood church ring rhythmically every 15 minutes. Sitting at my kitchen table with my breakfast before me, I’m compelled to observe the eclectic assortment of neighbours across the street. The unfamiliar intimacy of living only 30 feet away from complete strangers takes me by surprise. Living in such close proximity necessitates one to be respectful to the comings and goings of ones fellow human beings, a learning curve I struggle with daily. I am however, determined to conceal (not suppress) my interest in these captivating individuals who live right outside my kitchen window.
Directly across from me, a woman in an Aztec printed housedress gracefully opens her shutters, pausing to greet the morning sun that bathes her face in soft light. In an adjacent apartment a stoic gentleman reading in his rocking chair nods appreciatively to his wife as she sets an espresso on the table beside him. Lovingly touching his shoulder she turns and walks out of view.
On the second floor an elderly man freshens his comforter on the windowsill. The occupant on the fourth floor with the double balcony, has failed to notice that I’ve moved-in across the street. I know this because he waters his plants every morning in his extremely tight white underwear, and I’m disappointed to report this is not an image from GQ.
Imagine if you can a young Woody Allen in his tighty-whities…walking from one end of his balcony to the other in plain and painful view, with his coffee in one hand, all the while scratching and adjusting himself with the other. The pièce-de-la résistance
of this scenario is when he turns his back to me, bends over, and prunes his roses for what seems like an eternity. It’s a little like a car accident. It assaults your eyes and you know you should look away, but you simply can’t stop yourself!
The bakery below is owned by a colourful fellow who sings and chats to his customers. The friendly banter drifts up to my window, and from the sound of the continuous laughter I deduce he has a keen sense of humour.
On the sidewalk, gentlemen in business suits stroll to the bus stop, unconsciously tapping closed umbrellas against the sidewalk. Impeccably dressed women in strikingly high heels ride past on scooters, weaving dangerously in and out of traffic, as silk scarves sweep effortlessly around their delicate necks.
Rising up to me are the excited voices of young children dressed in uniforms on their way to school under the watchful eyes of doting grandmothers.
Washing the dishes by hand I catch the scent of jasmine in the air. The white cotton drapes dance above my table, responding to the gentle Italian breeze. An appealing start to a flawless day.