Ray Oldenburg in his book “The Great Good Place“, argues that the neutral places we come together, such as downtown, coffee houses, bars and post offices, are tremendously important for us as people and for our society. They provide the place of interchange where we build ties to each other and our community, giving us a sense of rootedness, purpose and belonging.
The pedestrian nature of Italian towns makes many of its streets third places. That pedestrian character supports a host of other important third places, and particularly the cafe/bar. A cafe/bar in Italy serves coffee all day, pastries in the morning, light lunch fare, and drinks in the evening. It is busy and active most of the day. You always find people in conversation, whether standing at the bar or sitting inside or out. It is wonderfully warming and nurturing. The rich human interaction of these places is one of the reasons Americans find Italy so enthralling.