We knew it was May in Trento because overnight about twenty new gelato places opened their doors. In Lyon, the bars and restaurants take over the streets. Literally. The owners of almost every establishment install a platform and pack it with cafe tables and chairs or outdoor couches to enjoy the sunshine and warmer evenings.
These temporary porches take up two-three parking spots in front of their buildings. (I can’t help but think how Amherst Town Meeting would react to this idea!) We certainly don’t care about the loss of parking spots, though we are wondering about the noise level, which is already really, really loud even on cold rainy nights when people are just stepping outside the restaurant across the street for a cigarette. (Have I mentioned that the stereotype of the French smoking is unfortunately alive and well? Everyone smokes!) We are not too confident that the customers are going to follow these posted rules about respecting the neighbors. Fortunately we have pretty loud fans that we place right next to our pillows and electric shutters that make the room-darkening shades we have back home seem transparent – they block out at least some sound, too. No doubt I will be a little more tolerant of UMass parties after this experience, though don’t mention that to my tenants!