Dear Carrboro

The Report from Your Man in Italy

By Jock Lauterer
Advisor, the Carrboro Commons.

Our man in Italy, Carrboro Commons advisor Jock Lauterer, hard at work getting the scoop on Italian café culture.
Commons Photo Italia by Jock Lauterer’s self-timer

Ciao, Carrboro! Your intrepid reporter here in Bellagio, Italy, on assignment from the Carrboro Commons to this alpine lakeside town to assess the similarities between our two communities.
Seated at a tiny metal table adjacent to the cobblestoned piazza, I am nursing a latte-frothed cappuccino as the village goes through its morning rounds.
If you can forget for a moment the eye-popping “The Sound of Music” setting of lovely Lake Como, Carrboro and Bellagio share one distinct and fundamental characteristic. People trump traffic. It’s that simple, really.

This simple paradigm shift in urban planning is central to livability. To illustrate, I have this silly little rhyme of which I’m overly fond:
When traffic creeps, it’s good for peeps.”
“Peeps,” code for people, are after all, what matter. And as I look about this lovingly preserved village, that “human factor” plays out everywhere in daily life.
The tiny, narrow streets — little more than alleys by American standards — mandate tiny cars, inching along seldom beyond first gear. No honking, no fist-shaking, no one-fingered salutes. Here, cars stop for folks who might be popping out of one shop and into another.
So, Bellagio does remind me dear old Carrboro — as opposed to some other towns we could mention where you take your life into your own hands just getting across main street. Here’s to Carrboro with its mandated pedestrian right-of-way crosswalks. And here’s to Carrboro with its ever-expanding network of sidewalks. Walkable communities are more sane, livable communities, at least to my way of thinking.
OK, enough of that rant. What else? If you could but translate Bellagio into Carrboro, other parallels emerge. Here in Bellagio, as in Carrboro, shops are personable and unique.
Like the heart of any Italian town, the piazza, where everybody walks, has coffee, reads the paper, walks their dog, comes to see and be seen — why, it feels just like the lawn at Weaver Street Market. And the similarities continue:

Bellagio’s butcher shop is Cliff’s Meat Market. The local flower shop is Southern States. The gelato shop is Maple View Dairy; the café on the street is Open Eye and Padgett’s Station. The charming little “ristorantes” are the Spotted Dog, ACME or Tyler’s, to name a few.

Does Carrboro have a sister community in Italy? No? Then I nominate Bellagio.
Of course, they could use a good PTA Thrift Shop. That, and their own newspaper!

Note to readers: In the interest of full disclosure, your man in Italy is lecturing this week at the University of Bologna and accompanying his wife, Dr. Lynne Vernon- Feagans, of the UNC-CH School of Education who won a fellowship to the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy.

3 Comments so far

  1. silentlizard March 8th, 2007 4:17 am

    Good color and light.

  2. nic March 9th, 2007 5:30 pm

    jock, i’m jealous. beautiful town bellagio. since it’s an online zine, you have time to fix the “maple creek” to the correct “maple view”.

  3. jock March 10th, 2007 3:22 am

    Hey nic, good catch! Grazie mille. Jock

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