I always love a good wander around Piazza especially on a Sunday when the traffic is minimal. Piazza is filled with history from its significant architectural wonders (many or already demolished or sadly in decline of course) to the locals who have been born and raised there. Even as a foreigner peering in, one can savour the sense of community and history of this unique area of Old Addis, where many Ethiopians from diverse backgrounds have grown up.


I had the privilege of being introduced to one such person on my last visit. Abdi Negash is Piazza born and bred: Abdi acquired an interest in Antiquarian books and artifacts after working in the old Italian book shop “Libereria Italiana” in Piassa (on the same block as Enricos) where he also learned to speak Italian fluently. Once the bookshop sadly closed he was able to inherit much of the classic collection and he had already begun to seek out other such treasures from individuals and families. And so a new business was born! Abdi has a small off the beaten track shop (you must make an appointment for a visit) in Piazza; it is an incredible treasure trove of books, artwork, records and various old artifacts.  All crammed together in two small rooms surrounding his desk, there is barely room to move but rest assured that Abdi knows where to find anything and everything! 


In addition to selling these items, Abdi also provides informal tours around Piazza. Part of the enjoyment of these tours is the obvious love he has for his community (lots of stops en route to greet friends and neighbors). They don’t seem to mind his tours (ferengies and Ethiopians alike) because they know he promotes Piazza positively and that the people who take these tours are genuinely interested in the area and about the history he reveals. He knows all about the families who lived in some of these great houses or villas both past and present, which truly brings the history of Piazza to life. You are not just looking at four walls within a compound; you are learning about the inhabitants and appreciating the current residents, from a true local historian!




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