Strolling into a Tradition: A Passeggiata in Squinzano

August 10, 2015 / Local Interest
Squinzano, Puglia

Passeggiata is derived from the Italian verb passeggiare meaning to stroll or take a slow walk. Well, we know about slow food in Italy, but slow walking, too? Si! And what a delightful tradition it is.

Around midday (usually 1:00-1:30pm), you may find many eateries and shops open in larger cities but the small towns are virtually deserted. Windows and doors of homes and shops alike are tightly shuttered closed to keep out the heat and noise. Streets and piazze are empty. Don’t even think about finding an open osteria or trattoria!

Photo - Victoria De Maio
Photo - Victoria De Maio
Photo - Victoria De Maio

In late afternoon there are signs of life… the sound of doors unlocking and shutters opening. Shop signs change from “chiuso” to “aperto” and by 5:00 – 6:00, in the town centers and piazze of cities large and small, the time-honored ritual of the passeggiata, the evening stroll, is observed once more.

Photo - Victoria De Maio

No internet, no Facebook or Twitter is needed to find out local news, gossip or, for that matter, what’s going on in the world. The exchange of greetings and casual conversation is warm and friendly. Perhaps just a nod and smile or perhaps pausing to chat with friends, shopkeepers or neighbors standing in their doorways. Everyone is invited to join in. Dogs are walked and children are encouraged to play. It’s lively and it’s absolutely lovely…

In the tiny hamlet of Squinzano, this evening ritual takes place in Piazza Plebiscito. Instead of a stroll, chairs appear, benches are filled and soon circles of what appears to be mostly retired men gather to chat and socialize. One can guess that they have known each other all of their lives. There’s a friendly murmur, lots of gesturing and laughter.

Photo - Victoria De Maio
Photo - Victoria De Maio

And, where are the ladies of Squinzano? Perhaps enjoying a few hours of neighborly chatter while the men solve the world’s problems?

Victoria De Maio

by Victoria De Maio

Victoria is a lover of all things Italian! A travel advisor, blogger, writer, tour leader, and published author, she is passionate about traveling to and writing about Italy.

Her book, Victoria’s Travel Tipz Italian Style, is available on Amazon.

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9 Responses to “Strolling into a Tradition: A Passeggiata in Squinzano”

  1. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    Vittoria il mio cuore si gonfia, il tuo post provoca gioia, come ho letto

    Reply
  2. Gian Banchero

    Grazie Victoria! Over the years I’ve lived in small towns where the afternoon procedures you describe are the daily event. In one town of 300 I lived maybe 100 feet from a small market that took only seconds to walk to, but this being Italy due to meeting up with people who usually had to relate family news and a little bit of neighborhood gossip to walk the hundred feet always took well over an hour. It’s interesting that the only people I talk to for long periods on my street here in Berkeley, California, are Europeans: French, Germans, Finnish, French Canadians… Everyone else is in a rush.

    Reply
  3. Anne Robichaud

    Good one! And where are the women? Home cooking and cleaning..and/or caring for the grandchildren (after all, an estimated 30% of the children of Italian working mammas are cared for by the nonni….beati loro!)

    Reply
    • salvatore liotta

      Anne,
      I have learned that Italy is a complex country and that sex roles are not as egalitarian as they could be but I saw one woman, only one but she was not tossed out of the circle. In my experience it might look as if men run the show but oftentimes the men are mommoni and the women run the show. If you feel like doing something about the apparent sexism that you see, there are books yet to be written about the difficult situation that Italian women live in. Women are adored like the Madonna but I believe that the men have mistresses.

      Italy is hot wired with the oddities of Catholic dogma and the primal nature of a pagan people.

      Let’s leave this by saying……the next time you are in Italy and come upon a circle of mostly men, introduce yourself or yourselves if you are with a group of women. Ask if you may enjoy the company of these uomi pensonati and see what happens. Then, help us all out please, and report on your experience.

      Respectfully yours,
      Sam
      100% Siciian American

      Reply
  4. sylvia ross

    Love the entire concept of the passaggiata. thanks for everything…

    Reply

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