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The Charming Italian Tradition of La Passeggiata

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The Charming Italian Tradition of La Passeggiata – The Evening Community Stroll

Experience the charming Italian tradition of la passeggiata – the evening community stroll. Each evening, Italians practice the charming Italian tradition of la passeggiata, a cultural tradition of strolling between the hours of 5 pm and 8 pm. Italians take to the streets to walk and socialize in a nightly ritual called “La Passeggiatta.” Sociologists have labeled la passeggiata a cultural performance, and on Saturdays and Sundays, entire families participate, this frequently being the main social event of the day. Afterward, everyone heads home together for the evening meal. When in Italy, you should participate in the enchanting Italian tradition of la passeggiata – the evening community stroll.

One of many things that makes us proud to be Italian is this heart-warming Italian tradition of la passeggiata. It is one of our favorite experiences when we visit Italy and we love participating in this lovable Italian tradition.

La Passeggiata Gallery

La Passeggiata Tradition and Custom in Italy

In her book titled The Passeggiata and Popular Culture in an Italian Town, Giovanna Delnegro states that this custom “reinforces a sense of belonging.” Individuals greet their friends and acquaintances while sharing all the latest news and gossip. Women frequently hold hands, walking together in what appears as an informal parade. As they mark the end of the workday, men can be heard to say Andiamo a fare qualche vasca, or “let’s go do some laps.”  Not only is the custom of la passeggiata a social bonding experience, but also good exercise, and each of us can use all that we can get!

According to Margie Miklas, “one of the original purposes of la passeggiata was to display the charms of young women who were eligible to be married, and in this process, parents of these girls encouraged them to be flirtatious. They wanted their daughters to fare una bella figura, or to look good. This could be one of the reasons that generally people change their clothing after working, and put on their finer attire, dressing to impress, for the evening stroll. The goal is, after all, or to see and be seen.

La Passeggiata Commiunity Evening Stroll in Larger Cities

In the larger cities such as Rome, some streets are just packed with people, making it nearly impossible for cars to get by. One of these streets, in particular, is Via del Corso, known for its shopping. As people are walking, it is not uncommon for them to stop and do some window shopping.

Another favorite spot for everyone to congregate during this evening ritual is the piazza, and Piazza Navona is a wonderfully entertaining spot. Usually in the early evenings, you will find mimes performing, musicians entertaining and vendors selling the latest new items. Piazza di Spagna, or the Spanish Steps, becomes another crowded spot for la passeggiata in Rome.

As an integral part of everyday life in Italy, la passeggiata is an endearing and charming custom in Italy, one that we enjoy immensely. Italians like to share things and be with one another, and they like to be outside, as their homes are frequently small. Unless it is raining, you can count on la passeggiata to occur in most every city, town, and village in Italy every day of every week.”


Experience La Passeggiata In This Video

Palermo’s Recent Adoption of The Evening La Passeggiata

The passeggiata in Palermo mostly occurs on their main walking street (Via Maqueda), and it is an unforgettable, inspiring sight to see. Via Maqueda is a large street, yet like our recent experience in Bologna, la passeggiata fills the large street so that it is a gridlock of pedestrian congestion that one normally only sees with a road clogged with cars. But in contrast to car congestion, when everyone is angry with everyone else on the road, pedestrian congestion adds to the sociable joy of being on common ground with other people. As Dan Burden once said, cars are happiest when there are no other cars around. People are happiest when there are other people around.

As I understand it, the size and popularity of la passeggiata on Via Maqueda has been growing since it became a walking street in June 2019. I believe that is because such an event benefits from being a self-perpetuating virtuous cycle. That is, because humans are a social species and our world tends to isolate us from each other, something that draws people to sociably be with others is so enjoyable, so rare, and such a “people-watching treat” that others in the city start learning about the enjoyable event and join in. And this growing number of participants induces even more people to join as word about it is spread (or people encounter it on their own). And so on and so on.

La passeggiata is, in the words of urban designers, a “social condenser” that most humans seek out to enjoy.

In my view, all cities, to be healthy, should have a nightly passeggiata.

How to Dress for a Passeggiata in Italy

Italians tend to dress up for passeggiata. Remember that Italians dress fashionably. For some, it’s a perfect time to show off new and stylish clothes. You will quickly identify as a tourist if you were shorts or a day pack.

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La Passeggiata in Italy

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