Living in a small town in Italy is just what you might be imagining; the little pedestrian city centre surrounded by two story houses with red roofs. The Saturday morning market that fills the main street. The silent Sundays giving space to bells of nearby churches. The lovely scenery and the mountains peaking at the the horizon.
But for someone born and bred in a city, there are also the poor public transportation with a schedule not being followed. The long distance between one place to the other for those without a driving license. The million pharmacies and the million restaurants with the same type of cuisine. The silence of most nights and of all Sundays.
And knowing almost everyone you meet in the streets.
At first it was just the ladies working at the supermarket I do most of my groceries at. Then it was seeing the people working at the pizzeria, waving as they drive by in their cars. And as much as it was cute at first to see the children where I work in supermarkets and stores, it isn’t when I’m having a bad hair day and still half in my pyjamas.
I miss the anonymity of the city.
Yesterday, I went shopping in the city and realised I kept looking around trying to see if I recognised someone so I would be able, within seconds, figure out the best way to walk by without engaging in any eye contact or worse, conversation. I miss walking the streets feeling invisible. Not caring if someone I know sees me. I miss not having to awkwardly talk to my neighbours when I meet them at the gate, or having to fake a phone call so a ‘hi’ would suffice.
Because as much as the city isolates you, it gives you privacy. It makes meeting someone you know a nice surprise and not a daily occurrence. It gives you the possibility to be someone else, or who you are outside work, without fearing to meet someone you work with, or your boss. It gives you a pub, a cinema, three type of different cuisines, an art gallery and a park with traffic and city noises as a background within walking distance. It gives you the possibility to stand out, without being stared at.