On sunny days, Sean and I like to follow up our morning cappuccini at Cafe Duoma with a walk to the park at the end of Corso Pietro Vanucci for a picnic breakfast. We sit on one of the park’s many benches, eat yogurt, biscuits, and oranges, and read or write, soaking in the sun. A curved terrace encircles the park, offering a 180 degree view of the landscape below. Tourists come here to pose for photos in front of the picturesque Perugian panorama, families stroll with their children in their prams, and lovers embrace on benches.
We’ve made it a habit now to travel on Mondays, since, barring special circumstances, they aren’t usually good busking days. Less people are out and about, and those that do show are tired from the weekend, and don’t have the kind of time or energy that they do in the week’s sweet spot—Thursday through Sunday.
So it was this past Monday that we left Bologna and headed for our next destination, Perugia, the capitol of Umbria.
On our favorite corner, in a respite from the rain.
Bologna is my new favorite city on earth. In the two weeks Sean and I have spent here, we’ve been welcomed warmly by buskers and locals alike. Our visit has been the perfect amount of time to make some friends, find our favorite spots to play, and meet many of the locals who stopped to listen or buy CDs (thankfully lightening our load for traveling). We also had time to become familiar with some interesting characters and performers of Bologna.
This weekend the two main streets in downtown Bologna were closed to motor vehicle traffic. Thousands flooded the streets to take a walk, to shop, to eat, to see the street performers who appeared to sing, play, dance, and swindle.
An excellent mime/magician we saw in the morning. Possible Bill Murray?
This happens every weekend in Bologna, but since it was the first time for us, Rachel and I were taken in by the novelty of the experience. It seemed as though every person in the city was there, crowding the streets with sound and excitement. I found walking in the street to be a delight—it seemed so wrong to be walking in the middle of what under ordinary circumstances would be the flow of motor traffic. I half expected some crazed driver to appear and begin running down the merry-makers.
On both days of this madness we were fortunate enough to find quiet spots to play, for at least two hours each day. Financially we did about the same as we had on Thursday and Friday, but we enjoyed the novelty of playing for these much larger crowds. At one point during a performance in the Piazza Maggiore, I experienced another moment of dislocation, looking out over one of the biggest crowds we’ve ever played for, swelled with strollers and passer-by stopped in their tracks by our voices. “I’m still not nervous,” I observed, even as I continued to play and sing and watch. “When did this become routine?”
One of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. A full post on this man to come. Just imagine deafening karaoke tracks to the Rolling Stone’s “Angie” blaring out of speakers mounted on the back of a motorcycle, with live distorted guitar playing the melody. Really.
As always, the crowds brought out not just the local buskers, but a full complement of beggars and umbrella men as well, and even a handful of buskers that seemed to combine attributes of all three.