Published on May 16, 2020

The City Listener: From my window

Before COVID-19, 2020 was supposed to be the year of the explosion of podcasts (which makes me happy) and the rebirth of personal blogs (in which case my instinctive reaction is enthusiasm). It happened that in this 2020 I ended up in an episode of The City Listener Torino podcast, by Nicoletta Daldanise. A very good thing

One part of this school opposite, which is a little lower than our balcony, has a flat roof: no tiles, just a grey expanse of bitumen sheathing. It is supposed to protect against seepage, but I suspect that, cyclically, the ceilings of some of the classrooms immediately below the roof get stained by rain. When this happens, a couple of people climb onto this flat roof and use a contraption with a flame to tar and plug the seepage.

I have always seen a vegetable garden on this flat roof. It is full of plants and vegetables, it has paths that run between the flowerbeds and some of these paths have a small arbour that blooms often.

The wonder is that in the beginning there was only that garden-garden on the school grounds. Someone had started to build it by going through the school stairs every time they had to reach the flat roof. And there was only the garden on the roofs of the neighbourhood at first. Then it happened that some of the inhabitants noticed that the building to the right of the school also had a small piece of flat roof: it was the very top of the lift tower. That too became a garden, tiny, of course, but you want to put that! No driveways, which didn't really fit, but four cascades of creepers descended from the sides of the lift tower and stretched over the roof pitches. A short time passed and it happened that the large terrace on top of the roof of the building a little further away also became a garden! Not alone, eh, someone took care of it, of course, but in the meantime...

At that point the situation was beginning to become obvious. I mean: the garden-gardens on the roofs were beginning to be seen even from the ground. And, of course, people wanted to go up there to visit them, the vegetable gardens, or just to spend some time there or read a book with the smell of salad growing in their noses. And when staying in one of these vegetable gardens (which had meanwhile grown to seven), people always wanted to go up and smell the slightly different noises and scents of the neighbouring vegetable garden.

It was easy and even logical, at a certain point, to build bridges between one garden-garden and another garden-garden. They were Tibetan bridges, mostly, and went from ledge to ledge, roof to roof, but they were easy to walk, not like the scary ones in some movies.

Now there are vegetable gardens on almost every building in the neighbourhood, of all sizes. Some are more vegetable garden and some are more garden. You can climb up to the wisteria-flowered one on the corner of Via Sacchi, right next to the station, and, from bridge to bridge, you can reach the school garden where it all began and you can go further, you can go all the way down, even as far as Corso Einaudi.

In the end, we built a Tibetan bridge too, between our balcony and the garden over the school where it all began: if you pass that way, take a diversion and knock, so that I can see you outside the window.


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I am Silvano Stralla. I am a developer, I like taking photos and riding bikes.
If you want, you can write to me at silvano.stralla at
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