14 February 2009
In the US most of the buildings you see do not have any interior open space, though this is not true of many larger government building I have seen in Washington, DC. Here in Italy the norm is that an older building will usually have an interior courtyard. Many of these buildings are only one or two rooms deep from the street before you encounter the courtyard. These were important in the days before electricity to have windows on both sides of a room for light and ventilation. Courtyards were also many times the only place for a garden or to keep your livestock.
As we would walk the corsi and rue of Ascoli Piceno we liked to peer into the open doors that lead to courtyards. These are large doors, often big enough to ride a horse and buggy into, usually a work of art in their own right. Some courtyards are now nothing more than a parking area but many are small oasis in the travertine city.
When in the cities and towns of Italy be sure to keep an eye out for courtyards that you can peer into, many times you will be pleasantly surprised.