This week's Photo Hunt theme is 'square'.
Some might think of the geometric polygon with four congruent sides and angles. I did not. I thought immediately to the favourite 'square' I encountered in Italy last June: the Piazza Santo Stefano.
My wonderful friend Palma took me to the oddly shaped piazza on my first day in Bologna. I had travelled all day from Toronto to Rome and then north to Bologna. I was exhausted but was eager to show me the city she had been visiting for weeks while leanrning Italian so we set out on an adventure.
Our last stop before dinner was the piazza that sits outside the fabulous Basilica di Santo Stefano. This 'square', named for its location in front of the famous church, is a charming cobbled piazza, one of the most magical and historical places in Bologna. It is surrounded by beautiful old noble family palazzos and seems to be an entity in itself. Stories abound about the origins of the Basilica Santuario di Santo Stefano but it seems probable that it was first a Roman temple which was dedicated to the worship of Isis. It is also said that St Ambrose buried here the remains of the protomartyrs, Vitale and Agricola. It was conquered by the Lombards and visited by Charlemagne. Leopardi and Giorgio Morandi used to love coming here as part of their afternoon walks.
We spent many a happy afternoon sitting at one of the wine bars lining the edge of the square watching what seemed like all of Bologna enjoy this special place. Children tussled with dogs, the local priest played soccer with the neighbourhood children, anti-war protesters marched, lovers sat arm-in-arm, lost in the moment, beautifully dressed couples hurried by, a young girl zoomed through the square sitting atop a skateboard, nonna slowly wandered home from the market - her arms ladden with fresh produce. This square could have been a museum yet it was full of the rhythm of life - this is one of the many reasons why I love Italy.
Later, when our friend Sandi joined us in Bologna, we took her to this same square and she too was smitten. How could one not be when one slows down and just grabs a hold of life for awhile?