Babies, Bikes and Books

Pesaro is a great city to live in—it’s very family-oriented and has a small town feel, especially in the centro storico, which is where we spend most of our time. Italy still has one of the lowest birthrates in the world, but you’d never know it from walking around Pesaro. I spent the last 3 months of my pregnancy here and it was a nice place to live. There’s definitely a baby boom here—something’s in the acqua, folks. So many women—of all ages—have young babies. You see them at all hours of the day (particularly between 5-7 pm, when Italians are taking their daily passeggiata) and in all weather. They’re pushing strollers in the piazza, along the waterfront, through the narrow cobblestoned streets. Baby Bjorns (aptly called “marsupios”) have not caught on here yet. Lots of the mothers are in great shape and dressed to the nines when they’re out showing off their babies. Prada purses and shoes, anyone? How women walk steadily on 6-inch heels over bumpy cobblestones while pushing a baby carriage is beyond me. The strollers are often luxury vehicles and of the SUV-variety; you need a serious mode of transportation to navigate these streets. I made sure to get a stroller with sturdy wheels when I returned to Chicago last October (yes, it was much cheaper to buy a stroller in America and transport it back to Italy). I’ve also never seen so many baby stores in one area, although they’re quite expensive with the dollar being weak. A boutique baby outfit can easily set you back $100 and there are few discount stores around and no garage sales that we know of!

Pesaro is also a city of bicycles. It rivals Amsterdam in that regard. In fact, I’m more aware of bicyclists—and more wary of getting hit by them—than cars on the road. Motorini are a different story; I don’t see too many in Pesaro, certainly not the amount I saw in Florence when I studied abroad. It certainly cuts down on the exhaust. Only a few cars with residential permits can drive into the actual center of Pesaro, but bicyclists rule the city. In the winter, I saw elderly women dressed in elegant fur coats, their little dogs riding in the front basket. Businessmen, shopkeepers, school kids and teenagers . . . everyone is on a bike. Babies and young children share a seat with their parents, and I’ve seen a few tandem bicycles around. We mainly use our bicycle to block the parking space in front of our apartment, but I plan to break out the wheels soon. The weather is just too nice to pass up a lovely ride along the water.

Finally, Pesaro is a city of books. Bookstores are everywhere—three stores are within a one-minute walk from my favorite café in Piazza del Popolo. I work in publishing and I love to read and write, so seeing all this literary activity gets my heart pumping, particularly since they say Italians don’t read often . . . only 3 books a year, according to a recent survey ( The Biblioteca San Giovanni is also a fantastic library. Housed in an old church, it melds ancient and modern and is a good place to grab a coffee while book browsing. Off to get a cappuccino!

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