The Episodes top
The Episodes bottom background

Umberto, the Balloon Man

The opening scene of the March 16, 2004 episode:

balloon manThe moment I hit the piazza, I could see the place was jumping. The fountain was gushing exuberantly today, its water splashing extra bright sparkles as sunshine sliced through. Some of the children were playing running around games; mothers with strollers and toddlers were there, conversing. I have never seen the piazza so alive. All the entertainers I’d met a few weeks ago were there. As is true of many piazzas in Italy, several streets from different directions merge into the piazza. Each entertainer occupied a different corner.

The balloon man stood in his usual place, surrounded by children. He had the biggest audience, for they all knew him. He was a sort of permanent fixture on his corner. Although he does venture to other towns close by, he always returns to his special spot in this village’s piazza within a day or two…