In an email exchange today, Stephen D. mentioned that 2009 Fellows Edward LaLonde and Jennifer Milliron arrived in Civita on a beautiful, warm spring afternoon. Dreaming of this experience, which I will soon discover for myself, I smiled when I read of their first (and second) encounter with the “extreme topography”—in this case, the steep concrete footbridge that connects Civita with the mainland.

Edward and Jennifer’s work will focus on expressly that, seeking to (in their words) investigate the implications of extreme topography on spatial organization and the activities of everyday life.

Having moved from Belltown to Lower Queen Anne nearly 6 months ago, I’m still adjusting to extreme topography in my walk home each night up the hill. Thankfully, my apartment building is only a few streets up from the base, but it’s enough to make my heart race by the time my asthmatic lungs reach the front door.

I assume—I hope—that my heart will beat just as wildly each day that I’m in Civita, for all sorts of reasons.

Considering the many congruencies, I am compelled to wonder if last year’s move is a sort of cosmic training for Civita—not only in the daily climb, but in the daily experience itself. Exploring my new home, a 70-year-old building in the center of an established neighborhood, has enriched my experience of other places, and provided me with a story to tell in my fellowship proposal.

It affords me a unique view into how time-honored places simply feel infused with weight, a sense of substance and gravity, to which the body intuitively feels and responds. It allows me to live in a dense, safe urban village where I can walk to every service I need, and to some of the best transit lines in the city.

This lifestyle has begun to reveal comfortable patterns, too; ones that connect me with the local business owners and neighbors who have quickly become part of my daily life. They are my village.

This realization has me eagerly anticipating the exploration of a new village that awaits me—in Civita, in Bagnoregio, and in Orvieto—as well as the village of NIAUSI, its supporters, and simply those who love all things Italian.