By Ina and Mike Levin
Do you know what a Passeggiata is? It is an Italian word for a leisurely walk or stroll, especially one taken in the evening. The closest English word is probably “promenade” but that does not do justice to the multi-layered meaning of the original Italian. On warm Mediterranean evenings, before or after the late evening meal, Italians join in an evening ritual—a gentle and slow stroll meandering through the main streets of the city.
We first were introduced to the word by our friend, Fred, whose roots are in the lovely city of Romeo and Juliet: Verona. Whenever we ate dinner together, Fred would suggest a passeggiata to settle the food, enjoy the evening breezes, and discuss the news of our families. For us, the term has come to mean a walk in our Heights around sunset. And we have such wonderful places that turn golden as the sun is setting.
The tree-lined streets of the Heights beckon for a breath of fresh air. Like the roads of an Italian town, no two streets look alike. And we even have an Appian Way! Of course, we immediately think of a stroll through the Heights to the beach. And the dedicated pedestrian path provides the perfect place at that time of the day. Once there, we listen to the other strollers’ conversation. They are very often tourists from warmer climates who marvel at our ocean breezes. And we never forget to say a ‘thank you’ for how fortunate we are to enjoy these views, as well as the breezes, all year long.
In the summer, when sunset is around 8 PM, there is plenty of time for the passeggiata. When you stroll to the Colorado Lagoon or Marine Stadium, you’ll be greeted with a view to the East that seems to be out of an 18th century Italian painting by Canaletto who captured the marvelous light of Venice on the canals and ancient buildings. True, our architecture isn’t Venetian, but the wondrous illumination playing on the water and the adjacent homes is much the same.
People of all ages take part in the passeggiata — from babies in strollers to mature citizens (like us) who love to see our fellow denizens of the Heights out and about. And what a great time of the day to discuss what we’ve done and the plans for tomorrow and the week ahead. If you are feeling especially caught up in the moment you might even stroll down to Second Street for a cappuccino or a cup of gelato. Veni, Vidi, Passeggiata!