An innocent scene: the city’s youth enjoying an afternoon on the steps of the Duomo in Perugia.

Italy Perugia Let's Go

How lovely. How Perugian. How reverent? Maybe not that last one, but the other two? You betcha.

Come the midnight hour, though, and hands once full of smartphones and gelato will be occupied by cigarettes and plastic cups of you-know-what. Music is provided by a certain caste of dreadlocked guitarists (one weekday afternoon set featured an emotionally stirring and curiously accented rendition of “Someone Like You,” a performance that was only missing a bonfire and some nostalgic anecdotes) and later in the evening, from the cranked up speakers of the nearby bars. The steps become an extension of those bars, a terraced temple to Bacchanalian revelry. And I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s the god the architects of this church had in mind.

As sharply-dressed carabinieri look on in wistful inactivity, the party rages on. Individuals take down more wine than the whole parish does on Sundays at noon, and puff more smoke than the Vatican on a papal election day. Chemically inspired ignorance prohibits any and all from remembering just where they sit, and you have to wonder if the Big Man is as disinterested as the police force.

“Hey man, where’s the party at?”

“The Duomo. Duh.”

“Right. Forgot.”

How lovely, and how very Perugian.

Perugia: How to Ensure a Stint in Purgatory was last modified: August 21st, 2015 by Chris Holthouse