The Poet’s Plaza
by Fabio G. Giotta
In the mid 2000’s, Angela Alioto and Lawrence Ferlinghetti joined together to realize a vision. The vision immediately spread to all of San Francisco and far beyond; building a real Italian piazza in San Francisco’s historic North Beach district. Imagine “an oasis for San Franciscans and a national site for lovers of poetry, literature, music and art”, like the many storied piazzas of Italy, such as those in Orvieto, Firenze(Florence) and Siena.
Located in the 600 block of Vallejo Street, between Columbus and Grant Avenues, the Piazza Saint Francis project is a private/public partnership between the 501c3 Piazza Saint Francis organization/KNIGHTS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI and the City of San Francisco. In fact, the block will be closed permanently as of early September 2015 and will be temporarily outfitted for piazza duty, thanks to the efforts of S.F. Supervisor Christensen and the S.F. Board of Supervisors.
The Piazza is surrounded and anchored by the oldest church in California (following the Missions): Saint Francis Church, built in 1849, now, since 1998, known as the National Shrine of Saint Francis. In 2008, the Nuova Porziuncola chapel was built next to the National Shrine by Cardinal William Joseph Levada and Angela Alioto. The Porziuncola Nuova is the “little sister” of the original Porziuncola in Assisi, Italy, incorporating a wealth of art work, incredible stones including the famous “Pietra Rossa” of Assisi and materials fromAssisi……it is a stunning example of authentic, artistic time-travel, is a “working” chapel, and is the only Papally designated Holy Place in the U.S.A. The legendary coffee house that started the Espresso movement on the America’s West Coast and became an “artistic center”, Caffe Trieste, opened at the far opposite corner in 1956. These landmarks remain vital, global gathering places for people from all walks of life. The Piazza will be paved with green and white Granite, with red accents of Assisi’s famous Pietra Rossa stone, and the pavement will be incised with quotations from dozens of poets, writers and peacemakers, from Dante and Saint Francis to Shakespeare and Ferlinghetti.
Piazza Saint Francis will be “a small but beautiful open space;” a place where one can routinely enjoy the NEWCaffe Trieste Saturday Concert and other concerts held at the Caffe, along with the less formal serenades emanating from the Caffe as Accordions, Guitars and Mandolins play everything from Opera to Jazz in the mornings and evenings. Of course, we also look forward to the concerts and other artistic events and ceremonies held ON the Piazza. In fact, the KNIGHTS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI (www.knightsofsaintfrancis.org) Annual Gala is held on the “Piazza” each year, and the line-up has included such artists and celebrities as singer Franc D’Ambrosio, comedienne Annie Potts, flautist Andrea Ceccomori, news broadcaster Tom Sinkovitz, comedian Michael Pritchard and Assisi’s “singing friar” Frate Alessandro Brustenghi. Messrs. D’Ambrosio and Ceccomori are returning to team-up for the 2015 Knights Of Saint Francis Gala later this year!
The Piazza will become a destination that is passed on from one generation to the next; a locale that will bring the artistic past in to the future. Please visit www.piazzasf.org, watch the short, informative Piazza Saint Francis video at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of37y9FKLfU and, most importantly, make your tax deductible online donation now. One dollar, ten dollars, fifty dollars, or more; no gift is too small or too big. We’ll see you there!
Piazza web site www.piazzasf.org