A Piazza Asleep

The dark gray cobblestones of this place dip and roll like the surface of a calm, strong sea, their surface worn smooth and shiny by thousands of feet over hundreds of years. If the stones had a voice, it would be an old man’s voice, cracking and shaking as he tells tales of the days before. For now they are silent. Only the men at the local bar are heard. The young banter as they glance at cell phones and smoke cigarettes. The old drink from tall glasses of beer as they tell their own stories of old.

Madonna and child keep watch over this place, the heart of the village. From their perch high above town hall, with only the pigeons for company, they have joined in the square’s life for what seems like an eternity. On festival days they have celebrated. On market days, they oversee commerce. Today they speak peace and rest to the community.

 The golden buildings enclosing the square sleep deeply as they bake in the sun. Only a handful of shutters are cracked to invite a breeze. The rest are closed tight as their inhabitants hide within. Businesses refuse to make money, their dark windows showcasing treasures that can’t be bought. A jewelry store’s gold gleams in the sun while the pizza shop next door makes a few onlookers salivate for what they cannot eat.

 Every seven days this place takes a new stride. It empties itself and its heartbeat becomes slow and slower still, reflecting and preparing anew. From the southeast corner of the square, the basilica rises high and mighty, its dome lifting above the clutter of many rooftops. Its stately presence hints at why the square refuses to wake. It is Sunday on the piazza.

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