In many ways, the main streets of Italian cities are like the hallways of a shopping mall. They are lined with stores and people come not just to shop but to simply be a part of a crowd.
There is one essential difference, however. Italian cities are real. They are made of stone, people live in them, and they have lasted, and will. They are not mere replicas of reality, as are shopping malls, but rather works of art; beauty endures.
It is such a shame that we in the US are deprived of reality, and beauty, on a daily basis. In its place we only get crass consumption and ugliness. We have traded community for convenience, and as it has turned out, we don’t even have that anymore. What fate awaits a society that has no common, shared soul?