5 min read

Walking in Dallas, Walking in Napoli with Alex Viviano

Walking in Dallas, Walking in Napoli with Alex Viviano
Photo by Slava Keyzman / Unsplash

Hi, Alex! Thank you for taking some time to answer these questions for The Flâneurs Project! 

Please tell us a bit about yourself and about any creative projects that you are passionate about.

My name is Alex. I’m 31 years old and have lived in Dallas, TX now for the past six years. I originally grew up here, but moved to Austin, TX for university. 

Between finishing university and moving back to Dallas, I’ve had the chance to live in a few places:

    • Madrid (6 months)
    • Paris (6 months)
    • Santiago, Chile (7 months)
    • New York (7 months)
    • Mexico City (6 months)
    • Rome (3 months)
    • With a few additional shorter stints between Houston, Lisbon & Porto, and Milan

What is your favourite street / area in Dallas and why?

The Lower Greenville area where I live! If you exclude cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and a few others, most of the United States, including Dallas, has the reputation for not being very walkable. In most cases this is a fair assessment. But if you look, there are little pockets of joy. From my apartment, I have three different bar/restaurant areas that are less than a ten minute walk. For example, I have five or six coffee shops that are less than a twenty minute walk. Just last night I walked to a wine bar to meet my dad to buy a few cases of wine for the family’s Thanksgiving celebrations later this week.

Above all, though, the people who live in my neighbourhood all seem to love walking as much as I do. Around 5 or 6pm each evening, the streets are full of people out taking evening walks, meeting for drinks on restaurant terraces, or going for a run. 

What café or restaurant did you visit the most often in Madrid?

This is an easy one! La Bicicleta Café in Malasaña, just off the Plaza de San Ildefonso, has been a staple of mine for almost ten years. When I lived in Madrid, I would go almost every day.

Since leaving Madrid, I’ve been back in the city for various reasons probably 15 or 20 times and I usually find an excuse to go back to La Bicicleta on each visit. Very little about the cafe has changed. There is still the same graffiti on the wall in the bathroom, the same harmonious mix of Spaniards and expats, even the wifi password is exactly the same (pericodelgado). There is a sort of magical energy about the place that’s hard to describe.

What city often brings you joy whilst walking?

I hate how cliche this is going to sound, but the term flâneur originated in Paris for a reason. There is no better city to go for a walk. Back when I lived in Paris, my favorite areas to walk in were the 6th and 7th arrondissements and the Jardins de Luxembourg.

Another underrated walking area is the 13th. The Butte-aux-Cailles is one of my favorite lesser-known areas in the city. 
Alex Viviano

Please share a serendipitous moment from a walk. 

My favorite flânerie of all-time took place while I was staying in Napoli, in the south of Italy. It came at a strange moment in my life where I was suffering from severe corporate burnout and doing a bit of solo travel. I started around the Villa Floridiana in the Chiaia neighborhood and walked back towards the Piazza del Plebiscito in the center of town.

The crazy route that Google Maps took me on led to a walk I’ll never forget. I went up and down steep, narrow streets that looked to have been forgotten decades ago, around dark alleys that were completely shaded from the afternoon sun, and up stairs that led to stunning views of the Gulf of Naples. Almost miraculously, I somehow ended up reaching the Piazza del Plebiscito as-intended but to this day I wonder if I accidentally passed through some sort of sci-fi continuum and went back in-time for an hour.
Piazza de Plebiscito

Please share a story of a stranger that you met or passed by on the streets and why that moment stayed with you until now.

Frankly, nothing comes to mind here. I guess I have something to look forward to!

What is your personal definition of the flâneur / flâneuse?

I think my definition is somewhat close to the “official” definition. It’s somebody who walks for the pleasure of it, without a set plan or destination.

What do you enjoy the most about walking?

Alex Viviano

What part of Dallas would you like to re-enchant and why?

Dallas is a much newer city, even for the United States. When compared to European cities, Dallas is still in its infancy. That said, I’m not sure there is much to resurrect here. It’s much more about letting the city continue to develop and age, like you would leave a sauce on the stove to simmer so as to allow the flavors to blend.

If you could name a street – what name would you choose for that street?

Perdu way - I love the ironic nature of the concept of being lost. There’s lost in the literal sense, when one is no longer following the path from point A to point B. However, in most cases, being lost is subjective, and I think there would be something satisfying about plugging “Perdu way” into Google maps as one’s final destination. 

If you could move to another city tomorrow (and have every expense covered, job security, a new home) what city would you choose, if you had to go with your first gut instinct?

Ah, not this question! I’ve been asking myself this for the last ten months as I’m currently in a remote work situation and seriously considering moving. For today, I’ll say London, although depending on the day you ask I might tell you Madrid, Milan, New York, or Amsterdam. 

If you want me to share a social media page or a website (about you and/or your projects), please share your links below:

Thank you, Alex, for your time answering these questions!

If you want to share your walking stories to be shared on The Flâneurs Project and join our community, book a slot here.