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Torino, Torino

Thursday morning, we headed across the street to the Museo Civico de Arte Antica, where there was an exhibit of ancient Afghanistan artwork we've seen posters for. As you climb down the steps, you get a good view of the remains of the Roman theatre. There were fascinating pieces in the exhibit, showing the elements of Greek, Roman, Indian, and other civilizations that the Afghan cultures traded with or were influenced by. And again, signs and explanations in English next to the Italian.

Next, we wandered through the overwhelming markets at Porta Palazzo. This is said to be the largest open market in Europe. There must be hundreds of cheap clothing vendors, then produce, then housewares, then more produce, and still more clothing around the sides. Inside market halls are meats and cheeses; and every kind of seafood imaginable in another. Some day I do want to cook a scary octopus. Here's the recipe I got--throw the octopus into some boiling water, let it cook until it's tender when you stick a fork in. Let cool in the water, then drain, slice, rub with oil, and grill.

I didn't get the octopus today, but did console myself with a bag of the tiny yellow plums I love.

Next, we walked over to the Quadrilatero again to have a coffee at Al Bicerin, the coffeehouse dating from 1763, always owned by women. A bicerin (layered drink of coffee, chocolate and cream) sent a nice amount of caffeine and sugar into our veins. I had wanted to visit the church across the piazza, the Santuario della Consolata. There's a ton of over-the-top Baroque decoration, and in a side room, hundreds of ex-votos going back centuries. An ex-voto is a piece of folk art expressing gratitude after a recovery. We saw ones detailing fires, falls, tram accidents, illness, a lot of wartime injuries, work accidents, all sorts of horrors. There's even one carved into a boat, after someone was saved from pirates.
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We had arranged to meet up with a friend of a friend, an American who has been living in Torino for a few years. We sat at a cafe in the pretty Piazza Emanuele Filberto, and talked for a long time over nice crisp salads.

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After saying goodbye, we walked down to the Mole Antonelliana. The Mole was begun by Torino's Jewish community as a synagogue. When the enormous height and construction difficulties made the building fund throw in the towel, the architect convinced the city to take over the project. It's an enormous, very strange building that stretches up with a psuedo-Greek temple, a pyramid, then another temple, then a long spire. Inside is the Museo del Cinema, where we spend two and a half very entertaining hours. There's not a huge collection of "things" you might expect to find, but instead comprehensive explanations of the beginnings of manipulating images for entertainment; facets of the film industries of several countries, how films are made, thematic collections of clips, all packaged in a creative, witty way. How you view is almost as important as what you view here.You can recline in odd red barco-loungers and watch silent movies, sit on toilets, lounge in a 60's style living room, or on a round velvet bed. We took the stomach-dropping elevator to the top, where there's a great view.


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After we emerged, we walked down Via Po under the porticos to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, then crossed to walk down to the Murazzi, the riverway where the boathouses used to be. This is now a big nighttime area, with lots of bars along the water. At 7pm, they were still empty. We walked back up via Po, and stopped at the Bar Nazionale for a drink. Torino has a very civilised custom of offering free antipasti to go along with your evening drink. Everyone loads their little plates with cheese, vegetables, little puffs and quiches, salads, dips, and canapes. This, plus a cone of gelato from Florio up the street, was a great light dinner after a long day.

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Comments (2)

Kim:

Amy, sounds fantastic, and that coffee drink looks great.

Hi, Amy, glad to see you are getting used to the Piemontese way... eating and drinking your way through every street. It is only going to get more so down in the Monferrato. The weather is great, time to relax, take off your shoes and head for the country....

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