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narrativa e di portafoglio

narrative and portfolio of Ian Siegel

Tonight’s adventure was an exploration of two parking garages. (Woohoo!)

I’ll admit that at the time I set out, I was less than thrilled to spend my night exploring these low-ceilinged concrete jungles. Another contrada was hosting a jazz festival tonight that I would much rather see.

But, as I should have learned by now, the city has a way of surprising me during less-than-exciting times like these.

I started at the parking garage near our group’s Porta Ovile entrance to the city, which is beyond the city walls and at the bottom of a valley. Tonight I utilized the escalator (original to the 13th century city) to descend the 118 feet from city level to the elevation of the parking garage below. When I had almost arrived, I heard the music off to my left somewhere, and might have danced a little down the street when I was all alone.

The parking garage lived up to my expectations. Mundane, concrete, lit with harsh yellow fluorescent lights. It may have well been in Jersey. We hope to study the trajectories into the city of people who park here to try to determine trends regarding the demographic of this garage’s users.

Less than excited, I headed across town to my next location, a garage called Il Campo, which was closer to the Duomo than it was to the Campo. I had almost reached my destination but didn’t see any signs for a parking garage anywhere—but did find a staircase that would take me above street level where it seemed like the garage should be. Of course, I climbed the stairs.

At the top of the staircase was a park, with trees and benches and lamp posts that lit the curving paths through the grassy field above the city. By now I was probably about twenty feet above street level, high enough that I had a clear view over the tops of most of the buildings. It was dark, so there wasn’t much to look at. The stars, however, were brighter there than anyplace I had found this entire trip. I appreciated them for a moment but I was on a mission—no time for stargazing tonight.

I continued along the path, soon to find a cylindrical knee wall with a railing in front of me. The wall was brick with a tile finish on the inside, and looked like it had been built within the past twenty years or so. As I approached it I felt more and more sure that when I peered down into it I would find the garage I had set out to find—I was probably standing on top of it right now. When I looked down my guess was confirmed. They planted a park on top of the garage! Now I was happy to be in this place.

The exploration continued, and I soon found that the park wrapped around the convent of St. Agostino, which I passed immediately before finding the stair. As the path turned around the building it revealed a clear view of the tower of the Palazzo Pubblico—as did the design of the parking garage itself, as I would come to learn walking about it. The deck itself treated the view as a spectacle, hiding it at times in order to dramatically reveal it around a corner or through openings. This emphasis on such an icon of Siena led me to think that perhaps this garage was intended as an entry point primarily for tourists who arrive in the city by motor vehicle—I admit that I forgot to look for the vehicular entry to the garage; it very well could be outside of the city walls like the first garage I looked at.

When I left the deck I decided to find my way back not by consulting my map, but by following the signs provided, as a first-time tourist would who had just parked his car, emerged from the garage, and entered the city. There were two directional signs in total, and they me put me onto a street that would lead me straight into the Campo from the front—“on stage,” facing everybody relaxing in the piazza.

Along the way, I stumbled upon two events: one was an outdoor showing of an Italian film, starring actors I had never seen or heard of, yet I slipped into the back row and watched for a few minutes anyway. The second was in the Campo, when I walked across the front of the Palazzo back toward the street to my dorm, and I heard classical orchestra and vocal music to my right, to see the doors into the courtyard of the Palazzo wide open and a live concert in session. Again, I slipped into the back to catch the end of the piece.

My conclusion for the night These are some of the beauties of urban life, the unexpected discoveries of things like that surprise and pique one’s interests.

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