History is not an impediment, but contributes to the stock of symbolic capital: an enduring and visible catalogue of social, political and creative obstacles surmounted.
The radial streets form a maze. It’s a drifter’s dream: a street that has seen traffic for two millennia; a university closing in on its thousandth birthday; wooden beams that have supported the same structure for 700 years, give or take a century.
Place names celebrate troublemakers: Garibaldi’s Thousand, Mohandas Gandhi, Mussolini’s failed assassin, Zamboni. There’s even a lane reserved for the vaguely disgruntled –oh, to have an address on Via Malcontenti.
Space is tight, so it’s a matter of coarse that bars, cafés and restaurants assume space on sidewalks and residential streets. The consumption of an aperitivo curbside does not appear to generate consternation.
And it’s civilized. On a warm summer evening thousands gather in the piazza to watch Terence Malick’s Badlands; a fair number will avail themselves of the opportunity to enjoy a cigarette.
But in this refuge, there’s little refuge. Eradicated from all that history is the wild. Green space is a tightly circumscribed fringe around a monument to a liberator. Of sorts.