By Dom Nozzi
Walking, in my opinion, is one of the great pleasures of life. That makes sense, as humans are hard-wired to be a walking species. Indeed, we all know that a person notices more architecture and landscaping and street design – and certainly is better able to engage in neighborly conversation with fellow citizens – when walking on a city street compared to driving a car down that street. Walking, in other words, is more HUMAN than driving.
But I have noticed during these days of pandemic in April 2020, where my partner and I do a lot more walking (in part to escape cabin fever!), that even though I tend to get around my neighborhood streets by bicycle, even bicycle travel is not as able to allow me to “smell the roses,” as they say, as when I walk. On many of my “pandemic neighborhood walks,” I find myself regularly thinking that “I’ve never noticed that before in all of my bicycle rides down this street!”
Walking truly is a way to be most human. Most part of your world. Not to mention a great way to be healthy and happy!
I have started calling my neighborhood walks “Smell the Roses Travel.”
Now that I am enjoying walking more than I have ever done so in the past – and doing a lot more of it each week these days! – I’ve given some thought to what my all-time favorite walks happen to be.
Here are my criteria for a great festive walk.
First, the walk should be vibrant, bustling, festive, and therefore entertaining. On a regular basis.
“Festive” is defined as a street that is full of people happily walking or otherwise socializing. The street is often festooned with colors and lights, and occasionally benefits from live street music and other street performers.
Second, the dimensioning of the street – how wide the street is, and how close buildings are to the street – is human-scaled rather than sprawling car-scaled.
Third, the street is flanked by plenty of retail, culture, services, or civic activity – so that the street is regularly energized and enlivened.
Fourth, the street is convivial and slow-speed. When I walk the street, I am likely to engage in conversation with people along the way, and the street design is such that motorists – if not on a car-free “walking street” — are obligated to drive relatively slowly, quietly, and attentively.
Using the above criteria, the following are my five all-time favorite festive walks.
- Via Pescherie Vecchie in the Quadrilatero neighborhood of town center Bologna, Italy during Christmas season.
- Corso Umberto, Taormina, Italy.
- The Ortigia/Siracusa outdoor food market on Via Emmanuele de Benedictis in Sicily. A happy, boisterous walk full of delicious, fresh Italian fish and produce.
- La Passeggiata on Via Maqueda in Palermo, and Mercato di Ballaro outdoor food market in Palermo, Italy.
- La Ramblas, Barcelona.
In sum, as the Italians would say, “Andiamo per fare una passeggatia!” Which in English proclaims “Let’s go for a walk!”
Monopoli Centro Storico (Old Town)
Bari Centro Storico (Old Town)
Via Tribunali in Centro Storico (Old Town) of Naples/Napoli, Italy
Via di Città and the Piazza del Campo outdoor food market in Centro Storico (Old Town) of Siena, Italy
Corso Italia in Centro Storico (Old Town) of Sorrento, Italy
Centro Storico (Old Town) of Venice, Italy
Marktplatz, Centro Storico (Old Town) Aachen, Germany
Bonn Old Town
Copenhagen Old Town
Dusseldorf Old Town
Madrid Old Town
Sevilla Old Town
Toledo Old Town
Valencia Old Town