The Steps. Even in Italian, a language hesitant to capitalize anything but the first letter of the first proper noun in a long name (e.g. “A farewell to arms” instead of “A Farewell To Arms”), you can hear that capital S. The capital S in “le Scalette,” the Steps…which mean the beautiful steps on the long side of Perugia’s cathedral that faces the piazza. During the winter the Steps are mostly empty but like the wild asparagus popping up all over Umbria, people were popping up on the Steps this weekend. Spring has arrived in Umbria and clear skies and mild temperatures filled up Perugia’s outdoor living room, Piazza IV Novembre.
“Perugia doesn’t have the sea. But the Steps are Perugia’s beach, and the people in the piazza, the waves.” An old Perugian cobbler once whispered that, as if it were a secret. The cathedral’s Steps are the city’s social center, the fulcrum around which the city rotates. If you sit there long enough, the Perugians say, you’ll see everyone you know. Umbra students may not see everyone they know if they sit out there, but they did sit and chat with Italian friends this weekend. And that’s exactly what we’re shooting for, getting more into Italian life. A presto!