What a great way to start the day, sitting and eating breakfast with friends. I caught these neighborhood regulars one morning on a Venice Piazza in the middle of town. The tour groups had not arrived yet, the pigeons were scrounging for crumbs, and the shade was still in full force. As we passed through we could smell their coffee and cigarettes, hear their laughter and sense the passion in their Italian adjectives.
This group must have been meeting this way for years. Which means their friendship and neighborly affections have survived floods, storms, warm and cold weather, good and bad seasons. It is these types of communities across the globe that are the back bone for cities and countries. These are the real people who earn a living, take care of where they live and protect their family and friends. These are the men and women who keep a community going and continue traditions.
I thought about the happenings in a Piazza and realized that in Venice this is their version of the community watch, the Home Owners Association and the Welcome Wagon. These people live their lives together all the time not just during block parties or the holidays. They see the good and the bad, laugh at each other’s jokes even if they already know the punch line, and ride the ups and downs of life together. As travelers we are only able to observe these simple moments. We can snap a picture and catch the quaintness of the place, but we never truly experience the community.
What are the people like who share the place where you live? How long have they know you and you them? Would they help you if your house burned down? Do they know your birthday or the way you take your coffee? In this electronic world we have too many internet friends and not enough neighbors. Neighbors are friends who live and love you just the way you are. It is the simple things that remind us of what friendship and community is all about.