If you're drawing on the street, in a foreign place, and a man comes up to you and asks what you think of the subject of your drawing, I suggest you always say "beautiful," even if you don't mean it. That's what I've learned.
Often, people look surprised by what I'm drawing. They stop and look at what I'm facing and seem confused. "Why that?" they seem to think. This summer in Italy, one woman tried to intervene, pointing out, that to my left was a shrine that I should be drawing. "Did you not see this?" she asked.
However, when someone asks specifically about a subject, as Giuseppi did this summer, "Beautiful" is a recommended response. That's what I said, and I'm glad I did. Although it was less than honest, I admit. The reason I draw anything is a bit mysterious. Most often, a scene grabs me and compels me to draw it for reasons that are better understood later, or are described only through the drawing itself. On this occasion, I think I was struck by the mess of architectural elements before me, and probably by the beautiful decay and stark light.
After drawing on site, I try to do some research. You never know what you'll discover about what you've stumbled upon. In this case, the fountain in the foreground is called Fontana della Crocetta (Fountain of the Cross). It turns out that the patron saint of the town, Santa Rosa, performed a miracle there. In the 1200s, she brought a ceramic jug there which had broken into pieces, and put it back together, much to the astonishment of onlookers.
Giuseppi didn't mention the miracle when I talked to him, nor that Santa Rosa lived in this neighborhood. What he explained was that his grandmother lived in the house that I was drawing. And it was around the fountain that he and his cousins played on Sundays and holidays. To him, whether or not the building was in disrepair, it was "bella" (beautiful).