discerning successful elements of people, place and urbanism

Nothing is better for advocates of urbanism than simple immersion in the look and feel of a successful, authentic place.

After a week of observation in the cities, towns and villages of Pugila, Italy, most notable is the age-old, multi-dimensional relationship between people and such places, especially given American aspirations—often rhetorical—for walkable and liveable cities back home.

Here, the people and place dynamic is intrinsic to climate and tradition, and naturally occurs amid commerce and curiosity, along streets, beside buildings and as a component of cross-town strolls. It can be read in faces, the simplicity of child’s play and nearby mealtime banter, often without pattern or prescription.

What elements might be isolated, and extracted for good use elsewhere?

Vignettes abound along streets and in public squares. Does a bouncing ball against a venerable door suggest certain types of urban playgrounds? Do open windows to the wind suggest building orientations that work? Do street vendors have lessons for markets and “street food” back home? What provides a sense of safety in crowds, at all times of day?

These illustrative questions suggest the power of imagery in inquiry about diverse urban settings, and only the beginning of adapting human-scale lessons from abroad to the often two-dimensional world of American urbanism.

Submitted from Otranto, Italy. All images composed by the author.

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